Sean has had the collector’s bug since he was a boy, when he started keeping old coins, toys, books and magazines. Football, reading and music are his other passions; he used to be the lead guitarist in a popular Singaporean rock band known as Ronin. Vintage items have always held an appeal to him and his wife Joanne, and their home is furnished with items from the 1920s-70s, ranging from Peranakan Tiffin carriers to German radios and English tea sets.
It was only a matter of time before he started collecting vintage watches, and the first one he bought for himself was an OMEGA Speedmaster. While he has owned several iconic watches from different brands, the Speedmaster will always be his first love …
1. Do you remember your first watch?
The first watch I had when I was a kid was a CASIO Digital watch, the F91W, which I still have. My first vintage watch was a birthday gift from my wife, an OMEGA Seamaster Cosmic 2000, which opened my eyes to vintage watches. But the first watch I ever bought for myself was an OMEGA Speedmaster Ref. 3590.50 for my 30th birthday.
2. The 3 most iconic watch models?
OMEGA Speedmaster, ROLEX Submariner and OMEGA Seamaster 300.
3. A noteworthy anecdote with one of your watches?
When my wife and I were at the airport going to the Maldives for our honeymoon, I made an excuse that I wanted to go to the restroom. Instead, I rushed quickly to the nearest watch boutique, looked at the OMEGA selection and selected a watch for her within seconds. It was an OMEGA Constellation. As I was paying up though, I saw her coming to the same boutique and I quickly hid beneath the counter and crawled around to avoid her spotting me. The salesperson was bewildered and I whispered to him, asking if I could hide somewhere as I wanted to surprise her with the gift in the Maldives. He was very amused and helped me to hide in the storeroom. A few minutes later, he came in with his eyes full of merriment and excitedly told me that my wife was buying a watch for me too – a Tissot Le Locle – and he put it on my wrist to see how much he should reduce the size of the bracelet by. I told him to leave it as it was, so as not to arouse any suspicion in my wife as to how he might know my wrist size. When she “surprised” me with the watch in the Maldives, I couldn’t resist and burst out laughing while telling her everything that had happened. She wasn’t terribly amused but for me it’s a memory that I’ll always treasure. It’s interesting how watches can be so personal to our life stories, perhaps more than any other object.
4. Are you more modern or vintage?
Vintage. My wife and I love collecting old things – almost all the furniture in our house is vintage, including the plates and cups. They have warmth to them that modern items seem to lack. I enjoy vintage watches because of the patina, the dome crystals, and their simplicity of design. A beat up, unpolished case with a scratched crystal but perfect dial underneath is just the kind of watch I like.
5. I love Speedmasters because …
Firstly, the name. Speedmaster. It’s a really cool name. And I love the Speedmaster font on the dial. Secondly, I love its versatility. In my opinion, there is no other watch that is as versatile on a bracelet, a black or brown leather strap, or even a nato or perlon strap. Dress it up or down, it works any way you want it to and looks great doing so. Finally, it is the only watch to pass the rigorous NASA tests. So it not only looks great, it’s as tough as it gets. I love that. If I could be a watch I’d want to be a Speedmaster.
6. Your favorite Speedmaster?
The 105.003 aka “Ed White”. I love the iconic white baton hands against the black dial which looks great and provides the best legibility, as well as the straight lugs and smaller case size which works better for my slim wrists than the Professional case which came afterwards. And of course mine is very special to me because I got it from Anthony! I will give it to one of my sons someday.
7. A single personal item you would take with you for a long stay on the Moon?
A good book.
8. You just won the lottery. Do you first buy a sports car or call a financial advisor?
I work in fund management and I enjoy investing a lot, so I would be very excited to decide where to invest all that capital. Then I would take my family on a trip around the world … after I’ve bought one or two grail watches … or five.
9. Where would you spend the next 24 hours if you had a teleporter?
I would be teleporting around the world meeting up with vintage watch collectors I’ve gotten to know over the years but have never been able to meet in person.
10. How many times a day do you watch … your watch?
Far too many times.
11. The last watch you bought?
An OMEGA Seamaster, with a cal. 285 movement.
12. What’s on your wrist today?
My OMEGA Seamaster 300.