Whatʼs Your Watch Story? with Aaron aka "mr_black_and_his_black_watches"
Updated: Sep 17, 2019
Hi there, could you give a brief introduction of yourself? Do you remember your very first watch? What was the story behind it and how did it come to possession?
Hello, my name is Aaron, though I have given myself the moniker of “mr_black_and_his_black_watches” on IG. This stems from my love of the color black.
I have always loved watches since I was a child. I can’t remember when I ever characterized myself as a watch lover, but I do remember the first watch I ever coveted – it was a Casio watch with an integrated telephone directory. To my 8-year-old mind, this was the pinnacle of horological achievement (if I only knew! Lol!). I ended up getting the watch for my birthday that year, but it was rather anticlimactic, as I found the watch didn’t sit just so on my wrist, requiring me to constantly adjust that inflexible rubber band. Still, I did enjoy that piece very much.
Fast forward to secondary school, and I remember my uncle giving me an Omega watch, with a steel bracelet. This was my first brush with a luxury watch. (And it just so happened that I overheard a family friend, a kid at that, talking about Omega watches a few days before.) The lugs were jammed up with rust, so the bracelet wasn’t able to have its full range of movement. That being said, I LOVED that watch very much, and wore it to school! I loved the heft and feeling of that warm steel on my wrist. However, my dad found out and promptly took it away from me. He didn’t actually say so, but I figured it was because a 14-year-old teen shouldn’t be donning luxury watches to school. But of course, I didn’t see it that way then. I resolved in my mind then to purchase an Omega watch in the future.
How did the passion for luxury watches come about, and what is it about watches that draws you to them?
When I was young and didn’t know better, I was incredulous why a normal steel watch, that didn’t look all that different from a “lesser” one, could be so expensive. I was in my teens and since I frequented book stores with my dad, I began to browse around the magazine racks and flipped through horology magazines. The magazine opened a world of mechanical movements, finishing and complications. I began to find out more about the hard work that manufacturers put in to craft a timepiece. I began to understand the value proposition of these timepieces and how they stood apart from generic pieces.
I think the one key thing that I first noticed luxury watches were superior over their more generic brethren was…. how wonderfully intricate, delicate, and expertly finished the watch dials could be. I just could not find that level of craft and workmanship in generic pieces. As a lover of beauty and one who believes that details matter, it was this awareness that pushed me over the precipice into watch-lover territory. Oh gawd….
Beyond learning about these mechanical movements, I was naturally exposed to the heritage behind storied pieces. Having a keen interest in all things military, particularly in military aviation, I began to learn that certain watch companies had developed military watches. I also love space, and through it I found out about the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch. I learnt that IWC made pilot watches for the Luftwaffe, that Panerai provided watches for naval divers, etc.
So when storied heritage and fine craftsmanship are combined together into a beautiful ticking timepiece, I become weak at the knees.
Tell us more about your very first luxury watch story. How did you come to own that piece?
In my twenties, I still nurtured my love for watches, but as you know, watches are expensive little beasts, and stopping by ADs like Cortina, Sincere, and Hour Glass in my twenties quickly put the brakes on my ever acquiring a watch. I just couldn’t fathom ever spending that much money on a timepiece, no matter how much I wanted it. At that time, I was wearing a Nautica Steel Chronograph which I really enjoyed. It was $500. In addition, I was saving up for marriage. Other priorities took precedence. This didn’t mean I didn’t occasionally stand outside the stores and gaze longingly at the pieces on display knowing they were out of my reach.
I got married when I was 28, and welcomed my first child when I was 29. Being a sentimental person at heart, I recognised the importance and value of noting milestones in life, all for posterity.
I wanted something that could stand the ages of time to mark this important moment in my wife’s and my life. Thus, I decided to celebrate by purchasing a watch for my wife as her push-present. I remember we went to Cortina and I purchased a quartz Tag Heuer Link watch for my wife. I paid $2,500. This was quite significant for me as it was the most I have ever spent on a watch to date, and for better or for worst, I crossed that psychological limit of paying big amounts of money for a timepiece. The watch represented value to me that was far in excess of that dollar amount. It was also important that my wife liked the piece. She is still wearing it even today. In addition to the many others I have since bought for her. Her grail was a Rolex Datejust 26mm with diamond markers, MOP dial, jubilee bracelet and fluted bezel. She was pretty pleased when I made that purchase for her.
As I have crossed this psychological threshold, I began to think that maybe I should buy a watch for myself for my 30th birthday. I was now married, and was responsible for my wife and new born child. I told myself that this would mark myself transitioning from my happy-go-lucky twenties to (hopefully!) more mature thirties.
So I did some searching around, and chanced upon a beautiful Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow GMT. It sang to me, and with that, I cobbled up the funds, made my way to the store, and it became my first luxury timepiece.
It ticked so many boxes for me. It fulfilled a childhood dream of mine to own an Omega. I was never one for base time-only models, determining that expensive watches should come with correspondingly complicated movements, and the Omega had the day/date complication, chronograph, AND a GMT to measure two time zones. I also loved how the light played on that dial, and how the rhodium coated indices sparkled like diamonds in the right light. Also, I discovered that 316L steel was superior to “normal” steel found in most watches.
All these were revelations to me. It’s one thing to read about these features on paper, it is quite another thing to really experience it and caress a finely crafted timepiece. I began to understand more intimately that you almost every time (not always!) get what you pay for when you pony up all that funds to acquire a luxury timepiece.
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?
We all get into the watch game for different reasons. Some people do it for the status of wearing an expensive timepiece. Others purely like the design. Others love the mechanical nature of the pieces, especially in this digital age where almost everything involves circuitry, switches, wires, etc. Others love the melding of both high engineering and design. Others want to mark important occasions. Fact of the matter is that we all have our own personal motivations and reasons for spending all that money on these ticking objects we strap onto our wrists.
Before I get into the actual collection, I need to first share about my love affair for…ceramic. And in particular, black ceramic.
By itself, zirconium oxide is a relatively cheap material. So why is it that ceramic watches have a price premium over the more-traditional steel as a case material? The answer lies in the huge amount of effort needed for watch manufacturers to craft out a ceramic watch case. Utilising high heat and pressure, and copious amounts of elbow grease, manufacturers expend an inordinate amount of effort to forge a ceramic watch case. The result is a ceramic case that is virtually impervious to scratches, as its hardness is second only to diamond. I very much appreciate the hard work and effort behind the manufacturing process. There is value there to me.
Being a geek with OCD tendencies, I absolutely ABHOR any imperfections/marks/scratches on my watches. After close to 10 years of wearing my first watch – the Omega Broad Arrow GMT – it is now badly scratched with copious amounts of user marks. I love my things and want to preserve them in mint condition for my own personal enjoyment. As such, ceramic, as a watch case material, seemed to be tailor made for me! With a bit of care, I can easily overcome the fact that ceramic is brittle in nature, so I can never, ever, drop the watch from height. But who goes into this hobby with the view of being careless enough to drop their watch? So ceramic’s brittleness is a non-issue to me as I am always very careful with my watches when I wear them.
Also, I have to share about my love for the color black. Black is mysterious to me, it’s stealthy, and it goes with everything. Black is everything and nothing, and its aura appeals to me in a very base, primal manner. I can’t explain it. I think the world recognizes the allure of black as I do. The “Little Black Dress” is a classic and must-have, but you don’t often hear of a “Little Blue Dress” as a wardrobe staple for women, do you? So black ceramic for my watches? It’s a perfect storm for me, a convergence of so many things I adore, where I can pose no resistance.
While I have 10 watches, I consider my black ceramic pieces as the core members of my collection. I own the IW502902 Top Gun Perpetual Calendar, the IW379901 Top Gun Double Chronograph, the limited edition IW378601 Pilot Double Chronograph, and the Panerai Luminor 1950 PAM00317 Monopulsante. All are encased in black ceramic and all are beloved by me.
There is a story associated to each of these pieces in my journey to acquire them. And each are unique to me that gives me the feels each time I think of it, especially the one where I finally acquired the PAM00317 Monopulsante after lusting after it for the longest time.
But for the purpose of this article, I have to say that since acquiring the IW502902 Perpetual Calendar Top Gun, it has displaced my PAM00317 as my favorite watch.
The reason for this is simple. The Perpetual Calendar Top Gun (PPCTG) is more than a watch to me. Corny as it may sound, I feel that the watch connects me to something bigger in the universe. As the days, months, years, and even centuries go by, at least up to 2499, my PPCTG will continue ticking and ticking. It is the impartial observer to all that happens in the world, and distilled down, in my life. As watch lovers, we are all used to snapping pictures of our watches on our wrists, and for very special days, like birthdays, etc., I make sure to snap a picture of my PPCTG in the foreground clearly showing the date, while having a representative scene of the special moment in the background. This serves as a visual bookmark, a “lifemark” if you will, on an important moment in my life. The PPCTG is thus my life companion, together with my beautiful wife.
Beyond this sentiment, I love that in-house manufacture Caliber 51614 Kurt Klaus designed mechanical movement. This ties to my love of all things mechanically complicated, and till now, I am STILL amazed at how Mr Klaus managed to design this movement WITHOUT the use of the computer. I am not familiar with the intricate details, but I understand that Mr Klaus referred to date books, put pen to paper, and designed the first generation of IWC’s famed perpetual calendar movement from scratch. I place great value in this, so was willing to part with that significant amount of money. The fact that the watch featured a double moon phase indicator was further icing on the cake for me. As I have always loved this “connection” to the celestial bodies above.
Alas, by the time I was willing to acquire this piece, the PPCTG was already discontinued. However, through some patience and sourcing around, I finally acquired my PPCTG. While it hurt a bit as I saw the funds transfer out, I very quickly got over it when I caressed my 48mm black beauty in my fingers.
What will your next watch acquisition be?
I am the proud father of 5 beautiful daughters. While they give me immense joy, raising children in Singapore is never a cheap undertaking. As such, I have had to revisit my watch fund and the amount I place in that account.
However, another material that has caught my fancy is bronze. I love the fact that bronze is a living material, and that as time goes by, the metal will react and acquire a patina totally unique to me. For this reason, I am hunting for THE bronze watch.
Currently, I am eying the newly released limited edition IWC Spitfire Bronze Perpetual Calendar. However, I have always associated bronze to the high seas, where brave men don bronze dive helmets and plunge into the dark watery depths. As such, my bronze piece will HAVE to be from Panerai. Where the PAM00317 was once my dream, grail Panerai which I have since proudly acquired, my dream bronze Panerai would now be the PAM00317, except this time, housed in a bronze case. Trouble is, this watch still does not exist. But I hold out hope that one day this will happen. After all, the P2004 movement is already housed in a steel case (PAM00275), titanium case (PAM00311), ceramic case (PAM00317), and rose gold case (PAM00277). Surely a bronze model would be coming out soon….until such a time, I will patiently wait.
Meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy my current pieces and engage with my similarly passionate watch friends on IG where I am at @mr_black_and_his_black_watches.