Monday, 13 October 2014

Pointers on Buying in Singapore ~ New, Pre-Owned or Vintage Watches, from ADs, Non-ADs and Local Watch Forum/Sites

i have bought a number of pre-owned and vintage watches over time and have done a fair amount of watch buys online so thought of pulling together a couple of pointers to help out folks taking the plunge or looking for better deals out there. 

how many would you like to get today Mr Too? 

If in Singapore looking to buy pre-owned(and in some cases brand new) watches in face to face deals, check out these non-Authorised Dealers/pre-owned watch shops(many do have brand new pieces as well)... [a scary truth is that i have transacted(bought and/or sold) with all of the below shops & ADs and other shops not listed]

  • montres [China Street] and watcharena [Balestier] LINK my post on montres LINK 
  • watchlink [Far East Plaza] LINK
  • Shawn at Heirloom Gallery for vintage LINK
  • Kenneth Chen LINK [site requires registration] formerly from VIP Hotel Balmoral Crescent / Barry Lim LINK [site requires registration]
  • Chuan Watch [Golden Landmark Shopping Centre] LINK
  • JW Watch [International Plaza] LINK
  • HJ Watch [Far East Plaza] LINK / GR luxury [Mandarin Gallery] LINK
  • Passions [Funan Shopping IT Mall] LINK
Singapore-centric online sites(can sometime be buggy though)
  • sgroc [site requires registration] LINK
  • swx  LINK
If you want new from authorised dealers than go to the watch brand site u r interested in and check out their authorised dealer(AD)/retailer network listed on their sites. For the luxury watch brands here, the main ADs in SG are:
  • The Hour Glass Site link [they have 40month Installment Payment Plan towards helping you get your desired watch... very dangerous :) ], 
  • Cortina [recently finished their jewelry of time exhibition LINKCortina Site and 
  • Sincere Site link
Authorised Dealers will carry a mix of brands. some come and some go depending on terms 
and relationship with the brands

When buying online, take note of the following: 

1) Try before you buy

Try the same watch model if possible before you buy vs making the decision off a pic you saw of it online. if you can't get the exact same piece then an alternative is trying something similar sized or similar model with some slight variances to understand presence of the piece and suitability. if you have owned and tried many different types of pieces(and know their sizes) this won't be too much of an issue for you. 

reaction 1: damn i didn't know it was soo small... [note this is in reference to the size of the watch!] 

reaction 2: damn i didn't know it was gonna be soo big... [note: this is again in reference to the size of the watch! ;) ]

see the middle chap? he is all of 60mm! makes the other sizable watches by it's side look a little puny

2) Pics to assess case condition

for vintage or older pieces with solid casebacks(which most of them do as clear casebacks weren't big in the past), always ask for pics of the watch without it's caseback on to see condition of the case and the caseback. if there's black-ish or other corrosion marks or pitting, I would stay clear and wait for a better example to pop up. it may require some patience though and if a piece is ultra ultra rare and you can stomach the corrosion of the case then it's your call on that... but i would wait... 

it doesn't really matter how expensive the watch is that you're getting... $100, $500, $1k, $10k or more. try and get some internal caseback shots if possible.

you need some caseback shots aye... done! :) 

3) Buy the seller

Folks with many transactions done before without issues are safer bets and better to deal with but again no guarantees as each new transaction is what it is. For watches, once the transaction is done, make sure all things pertaining to the deal are sorted. 

For me personally, for sub-1k watches i have been hitting eBay a fair bit. Most of my Seiko acquisitions were obtained there. Buying off ebay is cool coz of buyer protection. this means if the seller sends you something different from what was advertised, you can open a case and get paypal to assess to get your funds back. buyer protection is crucial for online transactions of course.  

Next onto buying pre-owned watches...

A. Provenance - Provenance matters especially if resale is important... having all the box, certs, papers, warranties, receipt if possible. the older the watch is though the tougher that this will all be intact and for quite a number of pieces greater than 10 years old, a lot of this stuff may be gone. 

my Rollie stuff, not for sale but an example of it having everything... box, guarantee card, receipt(not shown)
purchased from The Hour Glass Millenia Walk 27 Jan 2002
serviced once in 2006 after 4 years as i had really abused it in that time, being my first 'real' watch 
that i wore from board rooms to pools to the sea. the 'parts' noted was the sapphire crystal i managed to damage :)  
i have not serviced it since as it's worn in rotation with other watches i owned over time
checking with Rolex Service Centre if it were to go in today it would cost me S$900+ to service 
vs S$390 in the past... it has more than doubled in 8 years :( 

Oh and don't ask the question, is the Rolex warranty international? 
Yes, it doesn't matter which Rolex dealer globally sold it originally it's covered by Rolex Warranty internationally.
It is likely to be the same for most other established watch brands as well but i can't speak for all of 'em so you can double confirm for other brands.

B. Condition - As close to what it was when it was first sold. no replacement parts or re-touched up parts eg. the dreaded re-lumed markers. never polished would be good too if there aren't any serious dings as it retain the original case finishing and lines. most watches that have gone in once for a full service would likely have been polished then.  

What are u looking for? 

  • Sharpness of the case
  • Bevelled lines not missing
  • Not over polished or had too much metal taken away
The challenge here is that many sellers aren't able to send good enough pics to assess these so if the purchase is pricey enough eg. in the>40k range[or whatever your tolerance is], travelling to the seller may prove to be the better thing to do.

C. Servicing Matters - How long since its last service and who serviced it? 

Always try to get verification on when it was serviced last. Eg someone selling you a watch that was serviced last 8-10 years ago likely means the next servicing will be coming up soon on your dime. 

Check how long the warranty lasts as well. Some pieces may have been sold with an extended warranty(eg. boutique sold watches) so get it in the service centre before the warranty ends if anything needs a fixin. 

In terms of who serviced it, authorised is still best but can be costly. if non-authorised then make sure it's a reliable enough servicer that you personally would trust to use. if it's not then it casts a bit of doubt on the piece as in the course of servicing, parts that weren't from the original brand may have been replaced in the movement. eg. Tag, Panerai or IWC eta based movements replaced with generic eta parts. 

For my post on servicing -> LINK

Interested in Vintage Watches?

There are a lot of great vintage watches out there but what is said above on condition is extremely key in assessing the vintage watch you are keen on getting. for some vintage Rolex, certain aging features or patina actually give the watch it's value and the last thing you want to pay for is a service dial or replacement superluminova dial for the original tritium dial as an eg. 

havin it original is the way to go

The great thing about vintage though is the value for money buys. Watches with good to great movements eg the Lemania CH27 and Valjoux 72. Some brands may have interesting mechanical pieces from the past but you will have to tread carefully eg the likes of Universal Geneve, Movado, Zenith, English pocket watches and others.

i went through a 'find some interesting watch stuff off ebay' phase once. it was fun hunting for decent buys, looking at movements in old watches and seeing if there were worthwhile finds. somehow or another, i kinda knew that what i did buy may get very little wrist time but I still trawled through results pages looking for some good value pieces vs modern equivalents. 
some vintage pieces are popular though and have kind of settled at certain price range. for these, it comes down to your assessment of it's value when coming to a buy or not to buy decision.

ok a valjoux 72 but not found in a cheap vintage ;)

hope the above pointers help you in your hunt/purchase for a pre-owned timepiece and that's it for this post. happy watch hunting! cheers, raph 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A Young, Up & Coming Brand to Keep An Eye On... HYT Watches, Hydro Mechanical Horologists Launches in Singapore!


one of the bigger news in the watch world recently is Dominique Renaud the 'R' in APRP has joined HYT Watches. APRP is Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi and it started out as Renaud & Papi who later sold some of it's shares to AP and Renaud sold off his share of the business to take a bit of a break. Deployant did a great post on the watches and catchup with Vincent & Dominic so i have no intention of covering the same ground. check it out here LINK a lot of good info on their site too of course LINK

On to some thoughts from the launch of HYT House opening up in Singapore then... a lovely lady welcomed me in
the scene inside
some of the H1s on display... from their literature: "Each HYT watch is equipped with a fluid module. 
The fluid module is the device, which enables to display time via the meniscus. The meniscus
marks the boundary between the two non-miscible fluids in the tube. 
The watch movement drives the module via the bellows fixed on the main plate"
It's been setup to be at 10:10(or just past it) for the next 2 watches 
the pink gold one looks nice... H1 PINK GOLD FACE LIFT pink gold (5N) with
 brushed, shot-peened and satin-finished surfaces, pink gold (5N) crown
H1... the fluid shows the hours and the hand on the sub-dial points 
out the mins
H1 Titanium with brushed, shot-peened and satin-finished surfaces
Vincent was kind enough to pull the H2 off his wrist for me to have a feel of it. 
a large watch but light
and most kind to illuminate both me and the watch ;)
the H2 is a very interesting watch... impressive 8 days power reserve and 
retrograde hours... 
but ah what's that i smell... CIGARS! Cohibas no less :)
one for the raphmeister.. Thank You
wristshot with the deployant boys
and one just of the ultra cool cabestan...
friendly eye candy sought to distract... 
but the attractions of the night were the watches of course ;) this is an interesting version in white with blue fluid... the H1 ICEBERG 
Titanium with brushed, shot-peened and satin-finished surfaces
and that's it... some champagne, a fine cigar, nice watches and good company... 
my thanks to Vincent and Omamgbe for the invite down. oh and thanks for the nice door gift too... will be put to good use :)

Press release info follows: HYT OPENS ITS DOORS IN ASIA 

Independent Swiss luxury watch brand HYT establishes Singapore hub after arrival to the scene with revolutionary fluidic technology and stratospheric growth. 

Launched in 2012 The Hydro Mechanical Horologists revolutionised the horlogical market with the use of game changing fluid technology that unites mechanics and liquid within a wristwatch. 

The use of hydro mechanics was a first ever in the watch industry and HYT was the winner of the 2012 Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prize, Best innovative Watch Concept (Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve). 

2 years on and more than 50 points of sale wordwide, HYT has decided to open HYT Asia, a non-retail subsidiary of HYT in Singapore to cater to the pressing demand coming from collectors in S. E Asia. 

The team of Hydro Mechanical Horlogists recently partnered up with Time International for an exclusive distribution of its pieces in Indonesia and will confirm other alliances in the region in the next weeks. 

HYT CEO Vincent Perriard said ‘South East Asia is one of the strongest and most sophisticated markets in the world for niche luxury brands such as ours and is where we need to be. I always knew our watches would create a lot of interest but none of us thought it would be this big.’ Perriard added, ‘HYT’s liquid technology is 100% unique in the watchmaking industry and we’re working hard to keep it that way. Our team thrives on innovation and we have some amazing developments in store for you!’ 

About HYT

HYT’s Hydromechanical Horologists have turned fantasy into reality, mixing mechanics and liquid within a wristwatch. While addicted to nonconformism, these alchemists have drawn upon the strictest codes of fine watchmaking, and shattered them. 

The Principle 

Two flexible reservoirs with a capillary attached at each end. In one, an aqueous liquid containing fluorescein; in the other, a viscous transparent liquid. Keeping them apart is the repulsion force of the molecules in each fluid. 

The hours are indicated by the green fluorescent aqueous liquid released from a flexible reservoir compressed by a piston. These reservoirs, or bellows, are located at six o’clock and are made from a supple electrodeposited alloy. The first coloured liquid travels through the capillary pushing the transparent viscous one back into its own reservoir and then returning to its original position at six o’clock in what is referred to as a retrograde manner. 

The two reservoirs at 06:00. While the first compresses, the second expands, and the other way round, resulting in the movement of the liquid in the capillary. As the hours go by, the fluorescent liquid advances. The meniscus, in the shape of a half moon, marks the breaking point with the other fluid in the tube, indicating the time. At 18:00, the fluorescent liquid comes back to its original position, going backwards. The secret that gets the reservoirs going? Two bellows made of a highly resistant, flexible electro-deposited alloy, each driven by a piston. And this is where watchmaking comes in to activate the system. 

In 2014, HYT is continuing its all-encompassing quest for hybridisation by introducing its new collection: the H2. This timepiece was born of a vision shared by the teams of HYT and Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi overseen by Giulio Papi.


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Non-Watch Post: Chilling Out at Kommune Cafe & Bar... A Spot for Both Night & Day

As fate would have it, I bumped into a mate of mine after some time and we got to chatting and I suddenly found myself on a Saturday afternoon, having a nice time learning latte art and sampling some of the makan at his great chillaxing spot at Tiong Bahru, together with some interesting, young bloggers in Singapore. 

At night, it is a bar with some serious beers(a familiar word, artisanal, was used when sharing about 'em) and some of the harder stuff and in the day, it transforms to a nice cafe where you can pop by for a nice meal. So kids and the family for the day, and a night out with the gang for proper drinks when it gets dark :) 

3 Seng Poh Road #01-01 Singapore 168891 
Cafe opening hours: 10am to 4.30pm Tuesdays to Sundays. Closed on Mondays 
facebook / instagram: kommune_sg

so my take on all of it? for me it's definitely worth further visits and if you are keen on exploring a nice spot for breakfast / lunch / brunch or just have a nice cup of coffee or chai latte, do swing by and check out what's there. will share more on why together with the pics below. 
starting with the environment then...
lovely bright and spacious seating areas both indoor and al fresco...
the other side of the room
and what do we have here... hmm that's not coffee... 
so what's for breakfast? 
ok on a more serious note... i NEED MY COFFEE! grounded coffee before compression
a good chart sharing on coffee facts before we got down to latte art'ing :)
and the end result! (ok this is not my creation)
Chief kommunicator Ken was our gracious host and shared about the cafe and special kommune original 
roasts worked on by coffee gurus [he sported a nice Rolex Explorer II by the way ;) ]
they also had some great chai latte... i sooo need more of this!
but then it was time for makan... there is a rumbly in my tumbly... oh but first pics have to be 
taken and review impressions written... putting pen to paper Photobucket
MAKAN TIME!! some starters for you? 
yes, why not? why not indeed... let's start with some yummy okonomiyaki
overall decent but a little lighter on the seasoning would work better for me
easy solution is to get the sauce on the side... that should do the trick
mac and cheese(every restaurant should have mac and cheese on the menu just in case ;) 
this one was great with crabmeat in it! i m having it again the next time i'm down
sammiches ~ 3 Little Pigs - pulled pork, bacon, bak kwa, onion jam, which was a tad sweet for my taste. 
there was also a salmon & egg sammich with smoked salmon, lumpfish caviar & egg mash
avocado egg and some goodness ~ open-faced Avocado Sandwich - avocado,
 apple, rocket, tomato, sunny side up... for avocado lovers of course
And then come the Mains... oh yeah... grilled chicken up front (most of the mains are in the $15 to low 20s range i believe)
some saba fish 
some shepherd's pie
but the tenderloin hit the spot for me... medium rare and decent tasting :) [note serving below 
may not be what they serve for  one it was for a pack of us that was sharing] 
and to end off... you can have your pet dog chill out in the tables outside while you enjoy your makan.. 
[Ken's dog came by to observe proceedings]
and have the kids down(or young-at-heart folks ;) who can entertain themselves with crayons,
chops to draw all over the covered tables... encouraging creative expression which is cool!

and that's it. thanks again to Kenneth and the Kommune crew for hosting me. hope you enjoyed the foodie post and have a great long weekend folks(for Singapore readers). cheers, raph

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

all that you can't leave behind... a fun shoot with some hand models

[following pics were taken at Montres LINK and my models will go unnamed but they know who they are ;) this was a fun and rather rushed shoot as i was running around taking watch pictures that day... to create images though of beautiful objects and subjects is fun for me. i hope u like 'em too. cheers, raph]

just a perfect day... 
drink sangria in the park
and then later, when it gets dark... we go home
here she comes...  heads turn around... 
here she comes...  surreal in her crown
a time for a cuppa...
a time to learn...
a time to be tempted...
a time for the finer things... 
a time to get down to business...

[thanks to Mr Reed and U2 for some of the words above. and following pics of some of the stars of the shoot...]

Patek Philippe 5070G
Ulysse Nardin Freak 2
Richard Mille RM11
Patek Philippe 5070R
RM07 with some diamonds ;) 


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