What's Your Watch Story? - Alvin Chong
In the first edition of What's your watch story? We speak to Alvin Chong also known as @watchrology on Instagram. Read on to find out what sparked his passion for watches and more.
Hi Alvin, could you give a brief introduction of yourself, what was your very first watch and how did it come to possession?
Hi there! I’m Alvin and I’m currently an undergraduate at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). My first watch was a G-Shock given to me from my father during my 12th Birthday. I remembered getting excited to own my first watch as that was when I had the ability to tell time wherever I went (as I did not have a phone yet). My father felt that I needed to own a watch as I was at the age where I’m getting more independent, and so a watch will help me to keep track of my creeping responsibilities.
I recalled being fixated at looking down at my wrist to admire the watch than actually using it to tell the time and its other functions such as the stopwatch. Due to the seemingly indestructible properties of G-Shocks, I wore this watch throughout most of my stint in the army, in which it withstood the vicissitudes of nature when I go outfield. The scratches and dents on the watch’s case serve as a reminder of my NS days. This watch will always be a keepsake for me due to its significant sentimental value.
How did the passion for watches came about and what is it about watches that draws you to them?
The aforementioned G-Shock that I received already instilled in me a fascination and adoration for watches. However, it did not really blossom until I was 17. For my 17th birthday, I decided to get an automatic analog watch as a present for myself. I’m sort of a detail-oriented person who ensures that I love every aspect and facet of a watch before I purchase it. Since watches don't come cheap, I have to make sure that I really like what I buy. This kickstarted a long process where I scoured through the internet to research and look for a watch that really appeals to me. During my research, I came across an article on the Rolex Submariner that inadvertently changed the trajectory of my life forever. I started to fall into the rabbit hole of horology. I instantly became enamored and transfixed by how a watch can have such an illustrious history and also how it has been ingrained in pop culture (James Bond etc). Being a history buff, I am also very fascinated with the relationship between history and certain material goods. The history of the Submariner harkening back to the Rolex Oyster (the world’s first waterproof watch) which was on Mercedes Gleitze’s wrist when she was the first to conquer the English channel in 1927 elevated my interest in the watch and dive watches as a whole. As I did not have the means to purchase a Submariner then, I went for the equally venerable Seiko SKX009 which is well built and possesses classic diver aesthetics at an affordable price tag. This is a watch that receives a lot of adulation from the watch community as well. As such, you can say that the history of a particular watch and its brand is a strong factor which attracts me to it.
Tell us more about your very first luxury watch. How did you decide on that piece?
It was the first Tudor Pelagos 25500TN which runs on an ETA movement. I purchased this watch shortly after i ORD-ed from the army as a milestone piece. Besides the movement, it differs from the current generation of Pelagos as it is slightly slimmer owing to the movement and that it has only 2 lines of text on the bottom half of the dial which provides the watch which a “cleaner” look. This is why the ETA variant has sometimes been colloquially referred to as the “2-liner Pelagos”. The current generation of Pelagos has 5 lines of text on the bottom half of the dial which, in my opinion, makes the watch look clustered and busier. Additionally, it has a lumed marker beside the date window which is missing on current models. The Pelagos appealed to me heavily because it feels like a very utilitarian piece and is not very flashy. It is a supremely legible watch thanks to the stark white markers and hands which stand out when juxtaposed against the deep matte black dial. The applied markers also make the watch appear very 3-dimensional. The anti-reflective coating applied on the sapphire crystal is perhaps the best I’ve seen to date. The crystal disappears easily and in some cases it appears as if the watch does not have any crystal at all. This makes for very photogenic shots. Speaking of the best, the lume on the watch is easily up there with the heavyweights. The blue lume on the matte ceramic bezel as well on the hands and markers glow with nuclear proportions. The spring-loaded clasp on the bracelet is a sui generis clasp which easily stands out amongst the competition. All of the details of the Pelagos harmonise effortlessly to produce a watch which, in my honest opinion, is one of the best watches Tudor has ever made and perhaps one of the finest dive watch that you can get today as well. Unfortunately and regrettably, I sold the watch to fund other purchases and its one of my biggest horological blunders so far. That said, if Tudor were to release a slightly smaller Pelagos in the future, I would hurry back into the Pelagos family. As the Pelagos was my first ever luxury watch, it will always occupy a soft spot in my heart.
What is your favourite watch in your collection? Could you share with us the reasons for that choice?
The favorite watch in my collection is unquestionably the SeaDweller 4000 (116600). For me, it is the closest to my ideal diver and it has some details which make it unique when compared to the Rolex Submariner.
Firstly, it has fully-graduated bezels which harken back to the bezels of the very rare Milsubs 5517. It also has a matte black bezel reminiscent of older Sea Dwellers. What I love most about the watch is in the way it wears. Unlike the modern day Submariners with their broad maxi cases, the 116600 has shorter and narrower lugs which makes it wear more compact and appear smaller on the wrist. It sits better on my wrist compared to the Submariner. Although it is slightly heavier and thicker than the Submariner, I love the extra heft on the watch as it feels more substantial on the wrist. The Sea Dweller is more of a niche watch and I like that not many people has a Sea Dweller compared to a Submariner which is very common to spot when I’m on the streets. The 116600 is also a lock to be a future collectible. It was only produced for only 2.5 years around 2014-2017 making it one of the shortest batch of homogenous watches produced in Rolex’s history. If the vintage Rolex market is of any clue, the value of the 116600 will rise to stratospheric levels in the future. Another reason that adds to the collectivity of the 116600 is the possibility of it being the last 40mm SeaDweller to be produced and without a cyclops over the date window. Its descendant, the 126600 Sea Dweller that was released in 2017, was controversial to say the least as it departed from the traditional Sea Dweller designs with its case diameter being increased from 40mm to 43mm as well as with the addition of a cyclops over the date window.
What watch have you got your eye set on next?
Currently my eyes are set on the “Pepsi” ceramic GMT Master that was released in 2018. I love the “Pepsi” colorway as the combination of red and blue are very striking to the eyes. I also love the comfort of the jubilee bracelet which conforms around the wrist effortlessly. However, the watch has a very long waitlist and it is very hard to get one at retail. Its desirability led to grey market prices of a brand new stock to be twice that of retail, which is insane. It is arguably the hottest watch of 2018 and one that I hope to be able to get by year’s end. In the long term though, my “grails” are the F. P. Journe Chronometre Bleu and the Patek Phillippe Nautilus 5711, both of which represent some of the finest watchmaking the world has to offer.
Thank you for this interview and sharing your watch stories. If you'd like to see more close up shots of watches, follow Alvin @watchrology on instagram!