Hi Flex, 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?
Hi everyone! My friends call me Flex and my surname is New. Firstly, thank you for the invitation to this interview and I certainly do hope that my sharing is able to help new collectors of Vintage Rolex. This collection hobby of mine started during my college days, back then which I could afford watches that were less than SGD$100 each. I would find them at flea markets in Clarke Quay or Sungei Road, which is the place to go to for vintage items.
Should my memory served me right, the first watch I got for myself was a Fortis dress watch which cost around $25. Then after, I started collecting watches from different brands. With my growing collection and limited funds, I realized that I could not keep buying and started selling most of them. Making a loss of more than 50% every piece. However, my first luxury watch that left an impression was the Rolex 1601. Not only did I make a profit, I was also to recoup some of my losses incurred previously.
From then on, Rolex became the main brand in my vintage collection because of the value which it carries with age. It was difficult collecting Rolex at the beginning of my collection journey. Back in the day, we do not have social media and Rolex related news on the internet was not readily available. It was hard to do research. The only option then was to send the watch to RSC to obtain a certificate. Along the way, being a newbie in the vintage industry, I have stepped on many landmines and although they are painful, these experiences helped to widen my knowledge which I then started to help others in purchasing and growing their collections.
How the passion for luxury watches did came about and what is it about watches that draws you to them?
I love vintage watches for their vintage look and feel. The natural aging of the timepiece brings a new dimension to appreciating them. But I believe that it was my dad who passed this passion to me in collecting used items. He was a Rag-and-bone man or whom we address as the ‘Karung Guni Man’ in Singapore, who collected used items for a living. At times, he will come across awesome vintage toys which he will pass it to me for my collection.
As aforementioned, what draws me to collecting vintage Rolexes is definitely due to it's sustainability. The ability to retain or gain in terms of value enables me to continue growing my collection. Secondly, I very much enjoy looking through the eye loupe learning and checking for it's authenticity. Being the most popular brand, there are many counterfeits in the market, with imitators trying to duplicate and nail almost every reference part. Understanding Vintage Rolex requires a lot of comparison and studies and I enjoy the process.
Lastly, heritage is also another element which draws me to collecting watches. Vintage military watches are magnets to collectors. Just like others, I will go crazy just about any watches with Military provenance.
Tell us more about your very first luxury watch story. How did you come to own that piece?
My first luxury watch was the Rolex 1601 which I have spoken about earlier on. At that point of time, I got it for 800USD off Ebay and sold it to a Malaysian for about 1.5k USD.
Let’s talk about your watch collection. What is your favorite watch and could you tell us the significance of it? Was it a milestone acquisition or does it have sentimental value?
Every watch seems to have a life of its own so it is difficult to choose just one from my collection. What stands out, would be the rare Rolex 5510 that I have recently acquired.
Built only between one to two years from 1957 to 1958, the very last production of the 8mm big crown family, 5510 is one of the rarest sports references Rolex ever built. This watch is also known as the ‘James Bond’ watch by collectors. It features a Gilt Radium dial and hands, fitted with red triangle insert, super dome plexi and a 6636 rivet expendable big crown big logo bracelet. Majestic case which looks very different from the rest of the non-crown guard version of Rolex watches, it is very similar to the reference 6538 and 6200.
Thus, for me, getting the 5510 big crown is considered a milestone in my collection because it is not a reference that you can find anywhere.
What will your next watch acquisition be?
I am hoping that I am lucky enough to acquire the Rolex 6200 Big crown or the explorer dial Rolex 5513. They are super rare watches with high volume of collectors searching for them. My chances are considered low, but still I will not give up looking for them!
You can also follow me on my instagram account, @flexnew. In my IG account, you will notice that 90% of the posts are about Vintage Rolex as they have been part and parcel of my life for the past 15 years and I certainly think that this will remain unchanged for the next few decades.