How I got into watches (Collection Showcase 2016)

My hobby was headphones and now it is collecting watches. It all started in a trip to Vienna when I got my Longines Conquest Classic for my 18th birthday in 2015. After getting my first Swiss made watch I did more research on horology and finally became interested in collecting watches

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My first Swiss watch bought in Vienna for my 18th birthday. I didn’t treat it right so it got scratched so bad. However it is still my most loved one.

Initially I focused on new watches and modern contemporary watches or living fossils (ie. Sub, Speedmaster, Navitimer).

After convincing myself that a timelessly designed watch should always look good regardless of any factors, I ended up owning a Speedmaster Professional. My first 2 watches were brand new from boutiques because I had not known eBay.

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My second Swiss watch. This ‘Sapphire Sandwich’ is currently my everyday watch. I plan to buy a Speedy (used or vintage) with hesalite crystal some time in the future.

In mid-2015 I started surfing through watch forums. My focus shifted from new watches to vintage (and used) ones as I dug deeper into the world of watches. Because a pocket watch is always cheaper than a wristwatch of the same qualities (condition, brand recognition, value, rarity, etc.), I chose to first collect pocket watches. You can buy a very well preserved 100-year-old Omega pocket watch with a fraction of the price you pay for a random mint second hand modern Omega watch. I ended up owning 2 pocket watches from the revered maison Longines and American innovative manufacturer Waltham who, in late 1800s, utilized automated production in contrast to conservative Swiss manufacturers who prefered traditional labor intensive, time consuming production procedures

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Waltham model 1883 in sterling silver powered by the abundant American made ‘Grade 81’ movement. The watch was produced in 1900 in a very large quantities thanks to new equipments and automated production of some parts.

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Both are from Longines. The one on the right is 103 years older.

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Engraving on sterling silver hunter case of my Longines pocket watch from 1910. Tough not very popular today, Longines was once one of the most well known watchmaker. Longines has maintained deep connection to the world of equestrian sports.

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Grade 81 movement (18s 17j) of my Waltham Model 1883 from 1900. Guilt finish was more prevalent before 1900. The configuration of this movement is called full plate and was exclusive to American pocket watch. On top is the balance wheel that beats slower than our new watches. It ticks comparatively louder than wristwatches.

After I found eBay while on hunting for new straps to fit my Speedmaster, my weak spot for vintage watches got weaker as I see many varieties of them on eBay from an exorbitantly expensive vintage pink gold Patek to an affordable vintage art deco Bulova. Online market can be a paradise for people seeking vintage watches but it can also be dangerous especially in vintage watch market where buyers need to have some level of knowledge in order to avoid franken watches, redialed or relumed or polished watches, or, possibly, fake ones. A week after I bought straps for my watch, I bought my Enicar as trial. My collection now is so mixed and eclectic that it ranges from cheap Japanese watch (Seiko 5) to Hi-End Hi-Beat Hi-Tech Japanese watch (45KSback then).

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This Enicar from 1960’s is my first experiment with eBay after straps.

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King Seiko 45KS ‘Hi-Beat’ in steel that ticks at 36000 vph or 5Hz. Higher frequency watches were considered technological marvel and more superior to traditional, low-beat watches. To this day, Grand Seiko views their Hi-Beat 36000 as paramout of their mechanical watchmaking and hence only preserves it for Grand Seikos and other few important Hi-end Seikos.

My collection also has a field watch, a diver’s and a pilot’s, all of which are essential and critical tools for professionals and military personnels. Now that I like tool watches very much for their functions and their designs that are meant to be used in some specific area, I’m really craving for an IWC 3706.

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Benrus GG-W-113 field watch issued by US army. Note that the crown was replaced after being turned for 4 decades

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SKX007, one of the most famous and enduring model of Seiko, is popular for its rugged case with recessed crown and reliable 7s26 automatic movement. This 200-meter water resistant watch is a very popular choice among Thai students as a more affordable version of Seiko Monster diver’s. The production of SKX007 was officially stopped in 2015, 19 years after its introduction in 1996.

My beaters are usually sportier; Omega Speedmaster Professional, Longines Conquest Classic, Seiko SKX007

My others watches (I call them sedentary) that are worn less often are King Seiko KS45 from 1970, Benrus GG-W-113 from 1973, a classic Seiko 5 and a white dial Enicar from 60s.

So, my first watch is a Seiko 5 that I got in 2006. From 2008-2015 I wore G-Shocks. And after I got my Longines in 2015, I bought many watches since then.

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My Longines pocket watch circa 1910. In the past Longines was a dominant ‘manufacture’ with its own movements.

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Longines watch powered by ETA movement (Longines cal.L619) circa 2014 and 2015. After the Quartz crisis, many Swiss brands opted for blank or assembled movements to reduce cost.

So I have my conclusions.

  1. My most loved watches are Longines and Speedmaster Professional.
  2. My watches with most wrist time is either the Speedmaster Professional or the SKX007
  3. My watch with best history is unexceptionally Speedmaster Professional. The watch has its own book!
  4. My most expensive watch is Speedmaster Professional which I bought from a THAI Omega boutique where the discount is limited to 5%. This added a lot additional charge
  5. My cheapest watch is Enicar which is Swiss but was very popular and successful in Asian markets excluding Thailand. Enicar is related to Racine and distantly Gallet.
  6. My most abundant movement is Seiko 7s26 in 3 watches: two Seiko 5s and one SKX007. The 7s26 is well known for its robustness and ability to gain time for nearly a minute every week. It is however capable of chronometer performance if regulated by skilled watchmaker. It has plastic parts that are considered superior to some metals but are criticized for aesthetic reason. It is purely automatic with Seiko’s magic lever system that winds the watch really fast compared to other automatic winding system. It cannot be manually wound. The 7s26 is the most produced mechanical movements and are made outside Japan to reduce cost.
  7. My overall best watch is King Seiko 45ks. The hour markers and hands are sharply executed to razor sharp edge that reflects every tiny ray of light. Tough not that impressive by today’s standard, let’s not forget that this watch was produced in 1970. Its level of finishing was sublime back then and surpassed that of many Swiss brands. The fact that in 60’s Hi-Beat movements were so hard to manufacture and Seiko was the pioneer in Hi-Beat watches represents Seiko’s excellence in watchmaking and thus makes this watch even more collectible. Seiko’s attempts to improve accuracy to compete in chronometer competitions eventually led to creation of Hi-Beat movements and brands like Grand Seiko and King Seiko. It is in this era that Seiko was banned from European chronometer competitions because it won too much awards. So this 45ks is a great example of King Seiko and Grand Seiko. It was made with highest craftsmanship and was years ahead for its revolutionary technologies for better accuracy. The rivalry between Grand and King Seiko also makes a very strong connection to the brand as if we have have to choose side between the King and the Grand.
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From many aspects, I consider this watch ‘best’ in my collection though it has wrist time less than Speedmaster and SKX007

Happy hunting everyone!

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