The Collector’s View: A young collector talks about true love

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In this collector’s feature, I invited my childhood and family friend Ryan Ong to share on his watches and thoughts on watch collecting. It is certainly impressive for a young gentleman like him to collect watches that are in precious metals. 

The collector’s view: A young collector talks about love

Meet Ryan Ong, a watch enthusiast originally from the charming city of Perth, now residing in Singapore. He initially kickstarted his social media platforms (Instagram and TikTok: @ryehn) as a hobby to share his passion for horology. However, his growing collection of timepieces have piqued the interest of notable titles such as The Peak, Tatler and Channel News Asia.

Ryan Ong.

1) How did you get into watches, and when was that?

My curiosity with horology was first piqued many, many years ago. This was during the time when social media started picking up, and my algorithm would be flooded with content related to cars and watches. It fascinated me and I started to find an interest in timepieces. Subsequently, I would then take notice of watches worn on family members or friends at gatherings. For me, it was incredible how varying watches would look and function differently; and from there, I was hooked.

2) Can you briefly take us through your favorite pieces in your collection?

It’s difficult to pick favourites from my collection because I find that they all serve different purposes; some have sentimental value, and each of them have a distinctive look and feel.

Four watches, a selection from his collection.

However, if I could narrow them down to my current favorite rotations, they would be my gold watches: the Rolex Daytona, Rolex DayDate, and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. I enjoy the allure and versatility of a full gold watch with a bracelet; it’s something I can wear on a daily basis and can also be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

3) What is your approach when it comes to buying a watch for your collection? Do you buy with your heart, or do you curate?

Both aspects have to be considered when purchasing a watch. For me to justify adding a new timepiece to my collection, I need to truly love it, and it also has to serve as a watch that can stay timeless throughout the seasons. 

After years of curating my collection, I find myself more careful about my next purchase. It is important to buy something you love with your heart, so that you have no regrets when trends change.

4) We understand that the AP Royal Oak is your latest piece in your collection. Can you walk us through the purchasing process and what made you pick this piece?

A full gold Royal Oak has been a dream of mine since I first saw it on display at the Sincere boutique, Takashimaya close to a decade ago. I have had experiences with steel Royal Oaks multiple times, and while they are beautiful timepieces, they have always felt too light (perhaps due to the fact that I have never held a gold piece until recently).

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak: 15510OR.OO.1320OR.02 

This new pickup came through nearly three years after I registered my interest. I initially opted for both the strap and bracelet model as I did not have a gold watch then and would have been happy to add either to my collection. An offer came in for the strap version later on, however my heart seemed to know what it wanted: the bracelet model.

So I waited, and lo and behold, the call finally came.

5) What is currently at the top of your watches wish-list?

If this question was asked a couple of months back, I would have mentioned a Patek Philippe Chronograph 5170P, Patek Philippe World Time Enamel 5231J, and a Rolex 126755SARU. Unfortunately, the hunt for these timepieces was not successful and it pushed me further away from chasing them. 

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona: M116508-0009. Rolex Daytona that Ryan has is one of the most desirable sports watch in the market, this variant was recently discontinued. One unique feature of this watch is the striking red centre second hand which is rarely sighted on the Rolex Daytona and is certainly absent from the current line up that was released during Watches and Wonders 2023. Ryan has another Rolex Daytona in almost the same configuration but features a ceramic Tachymeter and oysterflex bracelet that isn’t featured in this article. 

Right now, frankly I am happy to take a break from purchasing and am grateful to enjoy my current collection. Most of the time, people can get caught up in the NWA-high, and it can become an unhealthy obsession to constantly chase it. 

Patek Philippe Manual Wind Chronograph: 5172G-010. Patek Philippe Manual Wind Chronograph. Ryan’s Chronograph features a white gold case and a salmon dial. This variant is one of the more desirable piece for this model. Interestingly knowing Ryan for so long, this is one of the watch that I rarely see him don on his wrist. 

When the time comes, however, I would still be keen to explore the high-complication range of Patek Philippe (e.g. reference 5970, 5270, 5370, 5204). Perhaps I may even consider adding a Nautilus with a bracelet to my collection. As for my dream timepiece, I would say it is the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph 5271P, set with rubies. 

6) Now that you have collected most of the mainstream brands, would you foresee yourself moving towards the indie watches?

I appreciate the complexity and craftsmanship of indie watches, however it is not something I am willing to dive into yet. The reason is simply because I do not purchase watches often enough for me to want to scratch that itch. Surely, I have been a long-time fan of the MB&F Horological Machine series since the HM01, but at that price point, I would likely prioritise other timepieces I have in mind. That said, I would not mind owning an F.P.Journe Chronomètre à Résonance.

Rolex Day-Date 36: M128238-0051.Rolex President is the nickname for the Day Date where it is spotted on various Presidents of the USA. The one that is in Ryan’s collection features a yellow gold hardware complemented with a diamond-paved dial and rainbow indices. Interestingly, this is the watch that caught the attention of many on Ryan’s instagram. You might just catch him in clubs or in one of swanky bars in town wearing this as his party piece. 

7) What sage advice can you give to aspiring watch collectors who may be reading this now?

First and foremost, always buy what you like. Trends are ever-changing, and something hyped up and in the spotlight now may not be the case down the road.

If you happen to get allocated a watch through a retailer, it is fine to turn down an offer if you do not genuinely like it. After all, this hobby is a slippery slope, and you should never feel obligated or pressured to spend on a watch you do not enjoy. Most importantly, take your time; no one is in competition.


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