What makes a watch collector tick?

TICK TALK: Dr Cheong, whose interest in watches began in 1973, advises against buying fakes, saying that they "do not speak well of character".


    May 03, 2016

    What makes a watch collector tick?

    WEARING a fake watch could cost you that job interview.

    This is according to watch expert and collector Bernard Cheong, who has been investing in timepieces since 1982.

    The 58-year-old doctor was the first collector and non-watchmaking industry ambassador at the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, a Swiss-based organisation that preserves the craft and traditions of high-end watchmaking.

    Asked about what to look out for when buying a watch, Dr Cheong told My Paper: "Do not buy fakes unless you wish to play the fool using them as key chains.

    "Fakes do not speak well of character, honesty and sincerity. You can lose a job interview wearing a fake."

    In addition, "always buy the best you can afford" but he stressed that one must do research before doing so.

    Dr Cheong told The Straits Times in 2012 that his best investment to date was his Panerai collection, more than 100 of which he had bought in 1997, before they gained popularity. He sold most of them a decade later at about $8,000 each.

    Dr Cheong's advice to aspiring collectors is to "take the same approach as to the share markets, because the dynamics are comparable in pricing". That is, buy at low prices - he also suggested buying used timepieces.

    "A careful examination of the hands and markers is a good way to know if the watch has been cared for."

    The general practitioner said "watches are rare and valuable only if you have not actually seen it but have heard of it very often".

    A watch is usually considered rare if there are fewer than 20 pieces made.

    The father of two, whose interest in watches began in 1973, counts many different models among his favourites.

    When he is at his clinic, he prefers a Seiko sports watch and is known to wear sports watches with business suits.

    For other businesses, Dr Cheong finds Claude Bernard "most useful".

    Watch distributor Crystal Time is giving 15 My Paper readers each a $749 Claude Bernard Aquarider Swiss Made watch in a photo contest. (See sidebar)