Recent grumblings on social media expressed concerns from certain disgruntled “watch family” members about in-house vs outsourced movements and components, brand transparency, even the overuse of star ambassadors to up the prices on first-hand purchases. Seasoned connoisseurs, it seems, are little affected by these minor tremors, steering their course based upon years of experience that have (almost) always included both first- and second-hand buys, while more recent collectors tend to look towards out-there pieces from independents, with an occasional exception. Five collectors from around the globe open up to tell us how their collections started and how they evolve. Their stories are accompanied by their photos of the “if there could only be one” watch.
Singapore – Turonny Fuad, entrepreneur
For Turonny Fuad, who runs his own trading company based in Singapore, constantly “tweaking [his] watch collection is part of the excitement”, although it was another collection that sparked his interest when, as a boy, he’d look through his father’s “mostly Rolex and Lange” timepieces. He wore “Swatches while growing up”, until he was able to buy himself his first luxury watch – a TAG Heuer quartz. However, knowing this was going to be an expensive hobby, “I stopped buying and resigned myself to admiring from a distance.” Until about three years ago, that is, when, window-shopping at a local watch dealer, he saw for the first time the F.P. Journe Resonance. “I knew then and there I had to have one. It wasn’t something I could afford right away but it did rekindle my interest in collecting luxury watches”.
Today, he likes to keep “15 to 18” watches in his collection, which he sells or trades when he becomes “disenchanted or grows tired of certain models”. Among the brands he collects are Tudor, Rolex, Panerai, A. Lange & Söhne, Ressence, MB&F, Patek Phillipe, Audemars Piguet, F.P. Journe, IWC and H. Moser & Cie. With an annual calendar from Laurent Ferrier “coming soon”, he believes his current watches “are close to an ideal collection, with plans to acquire perhaps a few more interesting pieces”.
This collector has “always been attracted to independent watch brands”, and wasted no time finding out about such names as MB&F, HYT or Urwerk. “I admire the levels of creativity that the big established brands tend to shy away from,” he says. “I also enjoy owning something that may be rarely seen. It gives me a certain pride and joy. The first watch I bought in my current collection was the MB&F LM-101 and to this day, I would never think about parting with it.”
People behind the brands
The history of the brand is “less important than the people behind it. A very good example would be François-Paul Journe. His company is relatively young, but what he has managed to create is astounding. His passion for watchmaking and the quality of his end products are nothing short of spectacular. I have the utmost respect for the man, and several of his watches are part of my collection. I will always be proud to have owned timepieces that bear his name.”
Despite this, an in-house manufactured movement is not a priority. “I don’t stop at the inner workings of a watch. I don’t even try to learn the differences between an in-house versus a non-in-house movement, as long as the watch is in working order and does not give me problems.” What is, however, of the utmost importance is transparent communication: “I think any brand that wants to earn a customer’s business needs to be forthcoming and willing to communicate clearly,” he says, adding he would be “extremely upset” (to say the least) to learn he had spent his “hard-earned money on a product that was falsely advertised by the brand”.
While brand image is important, “the quality of the product is more crucial”. Rather than seek out a specific shape, colour or functions, he is more inclined “to look for something that is different yet wearable at the same time”. His priorities have nevertheless evolved since he began his collection: “Whereas I used to go for timepieces with quirky designs or brand names that no one had heard of, I realize now that I need to have some stability in the collection in terms of value retention. This has turned my attention to brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe which I must admit I learn to appreciate more with each passing day.” His choice for “the one and only”: the F.P. Journe Chronomètre Bleu.