5 types of watch collectors you’ll meet in Singapore
Die die must buy
In Singapore, the saying "you are what you wear" rings true not just for fashion but also watches, especially luxury watches. Retailers here sell A LOT of watches and while a large number goes to tourists predominantly from China, a quick scan of wrists filing along Orchard Road or Shenton Way is all it takes to prove that Singaporeans do appreciate beautiful timepieces.
The plethora of brands available in boutiques across the country means it's difficult for us to make do with just one nice watch for all occasions – although some people do live with that, and something like a Rolex or an Omega could get you sorted. Indeed, owning more than one watch is your first step to becoming a... collector!
By virtue of their (oftentimes astronomical) price tags, however, amassing a decent collection takes anywhere from a couple of years to decades. Uh uh, don't roll your eyes – Rome wasn't built in a day, was it? In time, a man's horological inclination comes through in his watch collection, not unlike the way a woman's fashion sense can be construed from a peek into her wardrobe.
Singaporean watch buyers tend to be very sensitive to global trends and are among the first to get access to the latest novelties. But we're not without our own idiosyncrasies and people get into watches for all sorts of reasons.
Some buy watches to fit in, others to stand out. There are those who just want to spend some money, and those who want to make some money. Sounds familiar already? Read on to meet the six types of watch collectors you'll find in this little red dot we call home.
1. The Hype Beast
Ah, the Hype Beast. He's got those gimlet eyes trained only on the most popular brands and models because who cares about diversity and nuances? In his books, there is only room for three great brands, Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Panerai (yeah we know), because he thinks that these are the ones with the greatest re-sale value and/or highest demand on the pre-owned market, which is horological myopia at its worst. He doesn't know it all but thinks he does, and will go so far as to chide you for considering a watch from any other brand and advise you to "not waste your money." A dilettante at best, he's clearly not the best person to go to for recommendations.
He may or may not be a flipper (someone who buys watches with the sole intention to re-sell for a profit) but he definitely gets his kicks from learning how much the price of one of his Rolexes has surged since the day he bought it. Because value means so much to the Hype Beast, one of the first things he'll do is to retrofit his watches with third-party straps so as to keep the original in mint condition, which is basically rule number one in Watch Flipping 101. If you ever see someone desecrating a Patek Philippe Calatrava by wearing it with a NATO strap, he's definitely a Hype Beast and our hearts go out to the Calatrava.
2. The WIS (Watch Idiot Savant)
Now this is who you want to go to for watch advice, the WIS. He really knows his watches but be prepared to spend a few hours sitting down with this fellow and don't expect any simple answers. He can go on and on. In fact, you might walk away with more questions than answers because nothing is ever simple with this dude – he's an idiot savant for a reason. A walking horology encyclopaedia, he is an educated buyer and often has eclectic tastes in timepieces. He is led foremost by the product and brand equity, not trends and least of all celebrity ambassadors. He has a long wish list of watches which may or may not include the Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon.
Watches that interest the WIS have the potent combination of pedigree, craftsmanship, history, quality, and above all good design. He's gone through his fair share of duds of course but that's all par for the course in watch collecting. Forever icons like the Rolex Daytona, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, the Omega Speedmaster Moon Watch, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the Cartier Tank, and the Patek Philippe Nautilus are just a few staples in his collection.
He spends inordinate amounts of time deliberating over what watch to wear, but doesn't pay that much attention to clothes or shoes and his favourite hashtags include #wotd, #instawatch, and #womw. The WIS likes nothing better than engaging in a good ol' verbal sparring sesh with other fellow WIS's on horological trivia, and splitting hairs on eternal debate topics including but not limited to what is the ultimate chronograph.
3. The Clueless Collector
The Clueless Collector doesn't collect so much as he hoards because watch collecting usually implies some sort of curation or at least an indication of style or taste. This dude very likely got into watches through friends and also because he can well afford this hobby, not to mention the whole "keeping them for your future generation" ideology propagated by Patek Philippe's (in)famous Generations campaign, which simply resonated with his life goals. He doesn't know very much about horology and isn't very interested in gaining the knowledge. As a matter of fact, he can't even pronounce most of the names of the watch brands he owns, much less explain what a tourbillon does.
He leaves the enviable task of watch shopping to a trusted watch salesman whom he met through a friend's referral. Every so often, he'll get a call from the store with updates on new arrivals and he'll simply take his pick from the selection. In short, he'll literally buy whatever the salesman recommends and whatever sounds "about right." At home, he's got an entire arsenal of watches stored in a vault somewhere. Don't be surprised to find a CVSTOS and a De Grisogono sitting next to a Greubel Forsey and a Roger Dubuis. Don't be even surprised to find treasures like a De Bethune or an old Daniel Roth. He likely doesn't have any Rolexes because he finds them dull.
As he impulse-buys his way around the luxury watch scene, the Clueless Collector might amass more misses than hits, but he doesn't care; for him it's all about the experience.
4. The Patekaholic
Here's a guy that everybody loves to hate. The Patekaholic is always seen wearing the most quintessentially sought after timepieces, many of which are Pateks (obviously) but occasionally he'll show up in Vacheron Constantin, Breguet, or even a solid gold Rolex. He might even own a Blancpain. He's got expensive taste in watches, there's very little doubt about that, but he can also be a little too conservative. Venturing out of his comfort zone means wearing something like an A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk and nothing will make him wear a Franck Muller. He's a distinguished, highly respected gentleman who conducts himself well although close friends know that he's a bit of a humble braggart, especially after a few drinks. He would buy a Richard Mille, if not for the fact that he just doesn't look good wearing one. Yes, the struggle is real.
While he holds a lot of esteem for popular classics like the IWC Big Pilot and recognises the appeal of up-and-coming brands like Tudor, he refrains from partaking in either of these because the last thing he wants is to be walking down the streets of Orchard Road and see some random office lemming wearing the same watch as him. His watch collection, you see, is the stuff of dreams for many of us and there's no way he'll tarnish it with something as pedestrian as, say, a Bell & Ross BR01 – which is an awesome brand, just, it's not quite what the Patekaholic envisions to own, but it's not like he could pull it off anyway.
5. The Watch Lord
No one collects watches like the Watch Lord collects watches. This guy is practically the Pablo Escobar of luxury timepieces; his collection is the stuff of your wildest dreams. Very likely one of the handful of billionaires living on our small island nation, he's totally slaying the hobby and if watch collecting were an Olympic sport, he gets the gold for sure. He makes a ton of money every month and he knows how to spend it like a boss. Every watch in his collection is eye-wateringly to-die-for and he proudly shows them all off on Instagram. You see, he's got enough watches to wear a different one every day for years, AND COUNTING.
He has a predilection for ultra-high end unconventional timepieces and watchmakers or companies that have remained true to their roots rank high in his books. A VVIP for many brands, he's always among the first to own the latest new watches. Heck, watch CEOs probably have him on their speed dial. He loves the crazy designs by independent brands like MB&F, URWERK, Richard Mille, Vianney Halter, Cabestan, even Romain Jerome because he's got a sense of humour, and HYT just because. But he also appreciates rare, vintage, and limited edition Rolexes and has a trusted buyer who looks out for him on the auction market. Basically he loves flashy designs – the louder the better – and has a lifestyle to match, but beyond the outrageous front, the Watch Lord is really deeply passionate about watches although like most things, he doesn't take it too seriously.
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