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Throwback Sundays: Six Watch Recommendations for the Crazy Rich Asians, from Our Archives

Crazy Rich Wrists?
by Robin Lim on August 19, 2018

The highly anticipated Crazy Rich Asians – based on a popular novel by Singaporean Kevin Kwan – premiered on the large screen this week. The movie, which depicts the lavish lifestyle of ridiculously rich Asians, features stars like Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, and Henry Golding. 

The movie is not short of details that showcases the luxuries and toys of rich people. Big houses, flashy cars, and beautiful dresses – you name it. Of course, when it comes to such luxury goods, watches are something that should not be excluded out as well.

In this week’s article, we shall be taking a little turn. We will be looking at six watches, with no limitations on the budget. What should a crazy rich Asian wear on his or her wrist? Let’s find out!

 

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-date 40 Platinum

 

The Rolex Day-date, also known as the “President’s Watch”.

 

We begin the article with a brand that is synonymous with both wealth and success: Rolex.

The Day-date is perhaps one of the most well-known pieces in the collection. The timepiece – which has been worn by tycoons, politicians, and who’s who of the society – is one of the few pieces in the repertoire in which it is only made with precious metal. This particular Day-date 40 is a bit more special though. It is made from platinum, which is one of the rarest metals in the world.

The platinum Day-date is an interesting option. What makes it remarkable is the fact that it is pretty subdued, and it is only those who have a keen eye will be able to identify the use of this particular precious metal. The use of the ice-blue dial makes it a rather pretty and tasteful combination as well.

Retailing at S$84,050, the platinum variant has a hefty S$34,000 premium over the white gold brethren. However, the feel of the platinum piece is completely different, and we reckon that this is one of the few watches that represent success without shouting it out too loudly.

 

MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual

 

MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetua

MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual in Green.

 

MB&F is a brand that has been fascinating many for years. When they first launched their initial Horological Machine series in 2005, it took the entire industry by surprise. Max Büsser continued to impress the industry with its avantgarde design, and the Legacy Machine collection is a result of combining the art of traditional and classic watchmaking style with a contemporary twist.

The Legacy Machine Perpetual, as its nomenclature suggests, features the perpetual calendar complication. The challenge here is to redesign the traditional grand levier system for the perpetual calendar, in order for the timepiece to retain its signature “floating” balance wheel on the dial side. MB&F circumvent it by employing a “mechanical processor” consisting of a set of discs. The base per month is 28 days, and the system works in such a way where the discs add the additional days as required by the month. It is certainly a nifty approach to the problem.

In typical MB&F style, the Legacy Machine Perpetual is available in different dial colours and case materials. The top of the range platinum model is priced at S$275,100, and we reckon the 44mm timepiece will be a strong conversational piece amongst serious collectors.

 

Patek Philippe Nautilus Platinum 40th Anniversary Edition

 

The Nautilus 5711/1P 40th Anniversary Edition.

 

When the luxury sports watch category was launched in the 1970s, there were certainly many sceptics. It was not just the fact that the designs were too controversial, but the price points were much higher than most of the other watches as well. Despite all that, the watches proved to be very popular – even till today.

The Patek Philippe Nautilus is one of the few luxury sport watches that had attained a cult status over time. Its popularity can be seen from its incredulous waiting list – in which it was rumoured to be four years long for the stainless steel model. However, for the ultra wealthy individuals, we would probably need to turn it up a notch with something truly special: the 40th Anniversary Edition.

This limited edition timepiece has a few subtle differences as compared to the usual variants. This includes the use of platinum for the 44mm case, as well as a new dial that features baguette diamond markers and a commemorative inscription. The 40th Anniversary Edition is priced at S$149,300, and it will be limited to a production of 700 pieces.

 

Breguet Classique Tourbillon Automatique 5367

 

Breguet Classique Tourbillon Automatique 5367

Breguet Classique Tourbillon Automatique 5367 is an example of Breguet manufacturing capabilities. Perfected over a long time, the tourbillon is a “classic” complication of the Place Vendome brand.

 

A nice dress watch is quintessential in any watch collection, and few people does it better than one of the most venerable brands in the horological industry. Time to cue Breguet, and its Classique Tourbillon Automatique 5367.

The highlight of the piece certainly lies in the grand feu enamel dial. The white enamel dial is very pure and elegant, and it is only achieved after multiple process of continuous powdering and firing. The reason why enamel dials are so rare is due to the fact that its rate of failure is very high – as most of them are either cracked or visually imperfect. The stunning dial is paired with the usual Breguet touches, such as the Breguet numerals, and the heat-treated blue Breguet hands.

The movement, in typical Breguet fashion, is gorgeous. It features numerous forms of engraving and polishing, as well as an interesting interplay between the matte and mirror-finished surface. In addition, the movement also comes with technological improvements, such as the use of a peripheral rotor, and an inverted lateral lever escapement with silicon horns and silicon balance spring. This, in short, shows that the Breguet is a timepiece that exudes both form and functionality seamlessly.

The 42mm 18k gold watch is priced at S$211,900. It is definitely a beautiful work of art, and we reckon this is probably a very fine dress watch that would command a lot of respect and admiration from the purists and collectors alike.

 

Richard Mille RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough

 

The Richard Mille RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough.

 

Richard Mille is a brand that had constantly fascinated us. The eponymous watch manufacturer is most known for its bold and striking designs, as well as its relentless pursuit in R&D for its case compositions and movements.

One of the latest novelties from Richard Mille is the RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough. This watch challenges Richard Mille’s engineers to create a tourbillon that is virtually indestructible, as Pablo himself is a professional polo player. The watch is cased in Richard Mille’s signature Carbon TPT case, and the pièce de résistance is undoubtedly the movement. In order to allow the movement to resist up to 5,000G worth of shock, the manufacturer leveraged on the use of a double skeletonised baseplate in Grade 5 titanium and tension from a cable-suspension mechanism to ensure the stability of the movement itself.

Priced at US$900,000 (approximately S$1.23 million), the RM 53-01 easily costs as much as an Italian exotic car, or even a nice apartment in the city. For a crazy rich Asian, however, this might just work out to be a small change in the pocket.

 

Urwerk UR-T8

 

The Urwerk UR-T8 features a reversible case, which makes it a tad even more interesting.

 

We round up the article with something that is outrageous and flamboyant: the Urwerk UR-T8.

For those who are familiar with the independent watchmaking scene, Urwerk is one of the highly unusual and outlandish brand. They are particularly known for their bold and futuristic themes, as well as its time display. The latter, which is termed the satellite complication, features rotating hours modules mounted on planetary gears. It is the brand’s trademark, and it certainly makes their watches very unique and conversational indeed.

The UR-T8 is a tad more interesting than the usual Urwerk watches. This particular piece comes with a reversible case, which can be operated with a button at the side. Due to the diamond cut finish on the titanium case, the reverse side of the case makes it look as though one is wearing a shield on the wrist as well. Cool is perhaps an understatement to describe it.

The Urwerk UR-T8 is for someone who wants to make a statement. The UR-T8 is available in an initial series of 60 watches in natural titanium or with a black PVD coating. It retails at S$176,800.

 

Concluding Thoughts

 

The two main categories of watches that we have chosen are (i) brands that are universally renowned, and (ii) watches that are unique. This are basically the characteristics that Asian collectors look out for, in particular. When Asians buy luxury goods, they generally want people to know that it is expensive (and that’s why big brands are popular) and/or they want something that is different from the crowd. While we understand that the crowd is starting to move away from the trend, but this still generally applies.

We think that as the trend continues to move away from big brands, this is when independent watch manufacturers – especially those with unique and interesting design – will shine. This is why we have chosen some of the independent watch manufacturers who are bolder in terms of their designs. Brands, such as MB&F, Urwerk, and Richard Mille, are definitely very different from the usual offerings, and we believe that they will only continue to grow in the Asian market.

So, what will you wear if you are a Crazy Rich Asian? Do you agree with our selections? Let us know in the comments section below!

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  • @Maillechort
    August 27, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    Hmmm, not sure how Jaquet Droz was left off this list, the automata creations are exquisite, as are the paillonee dials. Kari Voutilainen’s Vignt-8 Kaen being a collaborative effort with Japanese lacquer studio Unryuan seems a given, and while we’re at it, Eichi II (hell, if Dufour is impressed. . .) Romain’s Logical One would be on my short list, as well as a trinity of Bvlgari Octo Finissimo watches composed of the Ultranero Tourbillon, Carbon Minute Repeater, and sand blasted red gold. Let’s add a few of Lange’s Handwerkskunst references, a Parmigiani Tonda Chornor Anniversaire, GP Esmarelda tourbillon 3 Gold Bridges, JLC Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon paired with an Atmos, various De Bethunes, Gronefelds, and Akrivias or the Rexhep Rexhepi Chronometre Contemporain, a bespoke Roger Smith of course, and because one needs a beater in the box, a Seiko Spacewalk Spring Drive reference SPS005 just to name a few. Patek and Rolex? Way to predictable, and dare I say. . . lazy choices. Especially since I’ve yet to see a single Patek advertisement that even remotely attempts to connect with me as an Asian customer.

  • Milhouse329
    August 22, 2018 at 6:55 am

    Here’s a thought…..

    “Crazy rich Asians start contributing to the care of the poor Asians and not letting the west pay for them!”

  • Just another guy on the web
    August 20, 2018 at 2:55 am

    If I were a crazy rich Asian I’d be so “over” using silly little things like watches to prove my wealth that I’d wear a Casio and fly my friends to my own private island.
    Imagine buying a solid platinum PP and only then realising
    1. It doesn’t hack
    2. The bracelet has zero micro-adjustment and so will only ever fit you properly if you live inside a temperature-controlled bubble.
    Tip for the editors.
    “Serious collectors” are not children who buy shiny new things to impress their friends. They are not stupid enough to spend $1M for a few minutes’ conversation in a nightclub. Serious collectors collect things like mint-condition 1940s Elgins and PQC Longines.
    And if you don’t know what PQC means, you are not a serious collector.

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