Interview with vintage watch lover, Jenson - Whatʼs Your Watch Story?
Hi there, could you give a brief introduction of yourself? What do you think of the watch scene now?
Sure, my name is Jenson. I started my IG page, @jensonslog as a way of documenting my journey in horology and architecture. The name actually means ‘Jenson’s Log’ or ‘Jenson’s Logbook’. I have a deep interest in collecting vintage and modern timepieces, as well as documenting certain styles of architecture (e.g. Art Deco commercial and residential properties). From time to time, I also contribute to online communities such as Hodinkee and Reddit. Outside of jensonslog, I am in professional services, working and living in London and Singapore.
If you ask me what my favourite watch brands are today, I would highlight some of them but I personally believe in design and style over brand name. This is something I have realised as I questioned myself why I was drawn particularly towards vintage watches; why not modern pieces? I simply prefer the design that vintage watches offer - I can summarise it in terms of expression, elegance, and not to forget, eccentricity.
A unique 1940s double signed Zenith-Favre-Leuba, retailed in British India. Featuring unusual ‘teardrops’ lugs, aged blue hands, and paired with a vintage ‘bonklip’ bracelet (likely factory original)
Having said that, my favourite brands are, in no particular order - Longines, Cartier, L.U.Chopard, Zenith, Zodiac, Pagol, Favre-Leuba, Movado, Enicar, Rolex, and Jaeger-LeCoultre. Apart from vintage, I also do have a couple of modern watches in my collection - a Rolex Explorer 214270 and a Cartier Tank Solo.
The watch scene of today is multifaceted. The vintage sphere has been growing and bustling like never before. People are starting to realise the value of vintage Omegas, Longines and Universal Geneves. I shall say, tongue in cheek, that there are a few vintage brands that I simply will not mention again, for fear of over-subscription, haha! Substance wins - these are great movements paired with classy, elegant dial designs - it is hard not to like vintage watches. As for modern watches, brands like Tudor, Omega and Cartier are pushing for a revival of iconic designs. Even Casio and Timex are pursuing the ‘limited release’ model for certain releases. I am also watching the independent brands closely - I am fond of the likes of Spinnaker, Baltic, and others that cater to sophisticated collectors, like MING.
How did the passion for luxury watches come about and what is it about watches that draws you to them?
Passion is a probably a nicer way of describing obsession. My obsession is with dress watches with unique dials.
Where do I begin? I started my journey when I was at university in the UK. I wanted a watch to wear to school, something that was fancy, with some interesting history. I ended up browsing for vintage Russian watches on Etsy, because I thought they were unique, and very much unlike your typical Daniel Wellingtons (well, DWs were the craze back in 2015). There was no doubt about that - but I moved on to vintage Swiss watches instead (and never ended up owning a Russian watch, strangely). The obsession soon became apparent - it was convenient to buy online, and prices were usually very wallet-friendly. My first vintage watches were Oris, Enicars, Tissots and Zodiacs. I still love these brands today.
My collection grew in size and sophistication - I began to appreciate vintage Omega, Rolex, IWC, and the Genta classic you-know-whos. As I said earlier, it is all about design for me. A watch’s dial is its face - well, that is uncontroversial, but for a visually-focused collector like myself, it excites me to find a watch with a unique dial. Fundamentally speaking, and I suspect many collectors (not just watch collectors) will agree with me, the joy of collecting is akin to ‘treasure-hunting’ - nothing can beat the euphoria of finding a ‘treasure’ which may feel like the best thing in the world to you.
Tell us more about your very first luxury watch story. How did you come to own that piece?
In my eyes, my vintage quartz Seiko is a luxury watch too. Jokes aside, although I have had many first Omegas and Tudors before, it was this vintage Girard-Perregaux Gyromatic that I truly considered as the (italicized) first to me.
This watch eluded me once during my final year at university; I was too slow to act before someone else bought it. Fortunately, it resurfaced again online a year later, to which I promptly snatched up. I always have a soft spot for vintage Girard-Perregaux - they are very different from the GP watch company we know today. This particular one featured an original black dial, with a fair amount of patina. The case was sharp and lugs were unpolished. It was a beauty to me.
Let’s talk about your watch collection. What is your favorite watch in your collection and could you tell us the significance of it? Was it a milestone acquisition or does it have sentimental value?
This 1950s LeCoultre ‘Powermatic’ is truly an all-rounder favourite for me - from an aesthetics, functionality and background story point of view.
My LeCoultre “Powermatic”: that is a power reserve indicator. Features full Breguet numerals and a set of very unusual lugs, on an aged ostrich leather strap
Jaeger-LeCoultre sold their watches under the ‘LeCoultre’ name in the US during the early 20th century, in compliance with US trade laws. The watch features a rare, full set of Breguet Arabic numerals, against a rich patina-ed dial. I find the power reserve functionality to be an excellent addition for a dress watch like this. It is an automatic watch, but you can wind the crown slowly, and watch the indicator disc turn from 0 (red) to a larger number in multiples of 20 (white) to manually ‘charge’ the power of this caliber 481 bumper movement. Furthermore, the lugs of this watch are extremely unusual - giving it even more character to an already unique aesthetic.
I acquired this piece during the first few weeks of my first job in London. It was a period of change for me: first venture into work life after university, and taking baby steps to upgrade my collection since getting into this hobby in 2015.
The story behind this piece is quite unique too, I suppose. It was a long journey to get this piece. It started with a purchase of an unrelated vintage Longines online, and I hopped on a train to Leeds and picked it up from the owner in Harrogate, UK. A few months later, I traded the Longines for a vintage Omega located in Belgium, which I had spotted and fancied online. Later, I returned to Singapore and traded that Omega for a vintage Tudor Oyster. A few months later after I returned to London, a guy posted this LeCoultre online from the USA. It was love at first sight. I took the chance to cold approach him for a trade. He liked my Tudor Oyster, and we performed a trans-atlantic transfer.
I suppose I am the type of person that would not pass on a good opportunity, and would do anything to make things work.
What will your next watch acquisition be?
For vintage: I need a vintage tonneau watch that is unique. My next goal is a vintage Rolex Prince. I cannot emphasise enough that the dial must be unique, and ideally unusual, which is a tough ask, as always.
For modern: it is time I should get a diver watch - I do have good feelings for Rado Captain Cook, Tudor Heritage Black Bay (Harrods), and Rolex Submariner.