Did you already have this habit of wearing a watch in the early stages of your career?
No, I actually came to the hobby much later on, at my first restaurant in Hong Kong. Back in 2011, whenever I needed the correct time I’d use my iPhone – because you can always rely on Apple [laughs]. Still, it proved annoying having to pull out a phone in the midst of a busy service – especially when you’re trying to deliver dishes to an incredibly tight timeline – and I never felt comfortable doing so in front of our guests. So the decision to buy my first watch, more so than a lot of the collectors I know now, was motivated exclusively by practical concerns.
Is this a piece that’s still in the collection?
Yeah, I still have it – a Cartier Calibre fitted with an integrated bracelet. I forget the specific reference. What I do recall is being taken with the watch’s sportiness and size. That, and it provided everything I needed in the kitchen: date, time, a certain guaranteed durability. For me, nothing can detract from the fact that it was my first ‘nice’ watch, and I still thoroughly enjoy wearing it.
That’s so nice to hear. Did you cross the threshold for ‘sensible’ collecting soon thereafter? Because I think it’s fair to say that – based on the pieces you’ve acquired and your outspokenness about certain brands – watch collecting is no longer just about function to you, right?
Technically – and this applies to a lot of other hobbies I enjoy – the moment you buy your first watch, the practical aspect becomes a lot harder to justify [laughs]. Typically, when you start acquiring your second, third, and then fourth piece, and so on, it’s not about needing to tell the time anymore.
A big part of my own experience with the watch hobby also has to do specifically with life in Hong Kong. It’s not the most drivable city, so I don’t have a car, never mind multiple, to sink money into.