In this collector’s feature, Stanley celebrates his birthday this week and it has also been 6 months since he joined Deployant as a writer, we decided to invite him to share his passion on horology and his collection.
The Collector’s View: Stanley Leung speaks of his love for meaningful watches
1. How did you get into watches? When was that?
I started getting into watches when I was at the age of 13 when my mother bought me my very first Swiss Watch, the Tag Heuer Formula One. It was a gift for me when she made money from her equity portfolio that I helped monitor.
From then on, it is a relationship and bond (no pun intended) that I forged with watches and the world of finance. At the age of 18, I was given my late father’s gold Rolex Cellini (a family heirloom) which made me fall deeper into the rabbit hole. Upon graduating from the University of Western Australia, my Godparents gave me a Ferrari Granturismo that is powered by the ETA 2824.
When I was 22, I decided to forage into the world of Banking where just like my friend Serene Chua, the natural inclination into the world of horology really begins. It was the only “tool” that I have during meetings that kept me punctual by stealing quick glances at it (without being rude by taking my phone out) and it is also a gorgeous piece of jewelry that a man should have that can express one’s character.
With all the experiences above, I believe that in every milestone and every phase in life, I made a mental note that I would get myself a watch to commemorate it. Having been a recipient of watches in the major milestones in my life, I decided to pay it forward by buying watches for the people I care about as presents that could last forever if one knows how to take care of it.
2. Can you briefly take us through your favourite pieces in your collection?
Currently, I have around 17 watches in my collection which includes Rolex, Tudor, IWC, G-Shock, Kurono Tokyo etc… Honestly some of them were forgotten until I started to write this article and I certainly hope that I don’t miss out any. Every piece is carefully curated as they all mean something, a certain milestone or a certain memory. Till date, I’m proud to say I am a hoarder who has never sold any pieces. Every piece is a favourite in that particular point of life therefore making this a very difficult question. At my current stage in life, other than the super memorable milestone pieces, it is the complications or the lack of it that attracts me.
On the top of my list, my favourite do it all watch now is my Rolex Submariner ref 124060 that was allocated to me from Kee Hing Hung’s Max. I will elaborate further in this article why the Rolex Submariner is my favourite piece now.
The second watch on the list is my very precious yellow gold Rolex Cellini that still has all it’s original box, papers and strap. This watch belonged to my late father and is a watch that I cherish a lot.
This particular watch is something I remember my late father by, a memory and a physical item that I hold dearly to, having lost my father when I was in kindergarten, there wasn’t much memories to cling on to. Donning on his watch on my wrist during important occasions makes me feel that he is still with me and every time when I take the watch out from the safe, it makes me miss him dearly. I rarely wear the watch after sending it for a full service from Rolex Service Centre as I fear losing it and fearing that it will be damaged from my negligence. The Rolex Cellini is my most significant piece despite any pieces now or anything that comes along in the future. To compliment this watch, there is a similar piece but with smaller dimensions that is in the ownership of my mother. All the factors above create this watch as the most precious watch in my collection.
The third watch that is on my favourite list is the rugged G-Shock Mudman ref. G-9300GB-1. It is a watch that is always with me on every trip that I go on from staying in the glitzy Rosewood Hotel in Hong Kong to the beach clubs in Bali, it is my trusted companion everywhere I go. I love that it is fuss free and stealthy where it doesn’t catch any unwanted attention.
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?
“Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.”-Deuteronomy 14:26 (NIV)
Just like the bible verse above, I buy with my heart but with a certain sense of curation. When I was younger, the percentage of buying a watch at a whim is higher but as I grew older and having more disposable income, I begin to curate my collection more. I begin to wonder if the watch I am buying would stand the test of time, would it be durable that it would give me a fuss-free experience with exception of servicing it once every 5 years. I often find my self squeezed of time from being a banker which requires me to constantly fly overseas and being a regular contributor to Deployant. The factors above makes it important for everything in my life including watches to work like a well oiled machine so that I can optimise the usage of time.
Therefore, at my current juncture in life, I am not suited for vintage watches where the watch has a higher probability to have a hiccup and always gone for brand new watches that are from Authorised Dealer (AD) or Boutique only. I think with the above points, it would mitigate as much risk as possible in terms of having to break the chain of my routines.
4. We understand that the Rolex Submariner ref. 124060 is your latest “significant” piece in your collection. Can you walk us through the purchasing process and what made you pick this piece?
The Rolex Submariner is a watch that I have lusted over for the longest time. It is a watch that has so much history behind it, the 124060 is a direct linage from the original Submariner ref 6204 that Rolex have released. It is a watch that has no date complication on the dial just like the current 124060. In this current 124060.
Complimenting the rich history of this iconic diver, the famed super spy James Bond donned one of the earlier model ref 6538 in the movie (Dr No, From Russia with Love, Gold Finger, Thunderball) before Omega came in with their product placement. As a huge fan of Bond and Ian Fleming’s literature that turned into movie, that was one of the point that intrigued me. After owning the watch, I noticed that it is a watch that could compliment any discerning gentleman from donning on a well cut bespoke suit like my favourite spy to days where one decides to lounge by the beach in an Orlebar Brown swimming trunks. I believe that due to the versatility, it is why the Submariner is the choice of MI-6’s favourite spy.
Moving back to reality, my lifestyle as a Banker warrants my full attention for more than 12 hours a day. I barely have time to adjust anything else other than the time and this is why the Submariner No Date compliments me as it is time only. The OCD-ness in me won’t trigger and drive me crazy that the date on my watch is off and to my clients who spy at my watch, they won’t think that I don’t pay attention to details and is meticulous.
Finally, here’s a little tip to my bros out there. The Submariner features a Glide-Lock function which enables it’s owner to adjust the bracelet up to 20mm which makes it easy to share it with your other half. That is a function that I constantly use when my girlfriend decides to wear the Submariner.
5. What is currently at the top of your watches wish-list?
Right at the top of my list is the new Rolex Daytona ref 126500LN in Black Dial. The Daytona has been a piece that I have been pursuing for the longest time. Granted that I am a self-proclaimed Rolex fanboy but it is also a piece that really got me weak on my knees. Firstly, the linage of the watch that is being associated with motor racing/cars which is my other favourite hobby apart from watches. Secondly, the complication. Chronograph is my favourite complication currently but most Chronograph comes with a date complication too which I dislike as I barely have the time to deal with setting the date therefore complications wise, the Daytona would compliment my lifestyle.
Finally, the science behind the Rolex brand, many don’t understand how much Rolex have invested in their Research & Development (R&D) and just buying it as a status symbol. Unfortunately, it isn’t just a status symbol for me but the mark of excellence. I love that they have put in the thought of using Oystersteel (aka 904L steel) which is rich in chromium and molybdenum, it is extremely resistant to impact and corrosion. Rolex inspects the steel on a microscopic level from the shaping throughout the priming processes, so as to control and refine it’s microstructure prior to machining it therefore improving the mechanical properties of the alloy along the way. Moving onto the dial, the indices and hands are made in white gold to make it less susceptible to corrosion and rust. All the above factors enables a watch lover like me to keep the watch for my next generation while wearing it often as a corporate warrior in the world of banking.
6. What sage advice can you give to aspiring watch collectors who may be reading this now?
As both a Banker and a watch collector, I would always encourage to buy something that pull your heartstrings with the only condition that is to buy within your means. Learn to collect them all without selling and you can see how far you have came when you take the collection out of your cabinet.
My second advice and albeit of a controversial one is to move on from those disposable watches. Watches that doesn’t stand the test of time (*cough* fruit watch *cough*) is quite the waste of money. Yes it tracks your fitness level, your steps, stress level yada yada but it doesn’t stand the test of time and would be obsolete in a year when the electronic manufacturer releases a new model. Think for our future, think of what we can pass down to our loved ones. Leave a legacy that can withstand the test of time.