Entrepreneur Adrian Cheung’s timepiece collection
By: Stephenie Gee
March 14, 2023
Adrian Cheung doesn’t settle for standard. And it shows in his horological collection, which looks beyond legacy brands like Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe and Rolex. The corporate lawyer-turned-entrepreneur takes Stephenie Gee through his more underrated timepieces and the ones currently on his wish list
A. Lange & Söhne – Lange 1
Let’s start with one of the most prized pieces in my collection – the iconic Lange 1 with its perfect size of 38.5mm, white gold case and silver dial. I specifically chose to acquire this piece in 2016, after admiring its unique look from an uncle’s wrist, to celebrate the opening of my restaurant Stellar House.
What I appreciate is how it incorporates all the most essential watch complications (in my opinion): a big date, a power reserve indicator and running seconds. Despite the asymmetrical dial, Lange has achieved a harmonious balance between all the functions via the rule of thirds while the dimensions of the date window follow the golden ratio.
What cannot be seen from the dial side, however, is the gorgeous traditional German silver three-quarter plate movement found on the caseback. One interesting point is that each balance cock (a small piece of metal no bigger than a nail) is hand-engraved, taking approximately a minimum of one hour to complete, and it is said that Lange can even identify the engraver upon request. A true design classic and forever timeless.
Casio – G-Shock GMW-B5000TB-1
I feel like no watch collection is complete without a Casio G-Shock. Specifically, the square DW-5000 (the first ever G-Shock) shape and the piece here is particularly special in that it looks no different at first glance to all the other square models out there already. What we have here is the first-ever square model to be constituted in titanium, which provides a completely different wearing experience, almost as light as the classic resin models but just as strong as the stainless steel models.
When it was first released in 2019, it came at a significant premium to all existing models, and many may wonder why bother paying the premium for titanium when no one can really tell the difference. It’s this exact point that I think is quite cool, and isn’t wearing watches ultimately about personal enjoyment? This can also be another aspect to consider when selecting a travel watch, especially with watch crime quite rife nowadays in many other countries.
Tudor – Submariner 79090
Tudor has always been perceived as the lesser brand in terms of quality (little brother, if you will) of Rolex. However, people may not know that in the past they shared many of the same components and are just as durable. On this model, the movement used is a standard ETA module and not in-house, which Rolex models were using. The case, however, is Rolex-made and the crown is engraved with the Rolex crown logo. It also features a blue-on-blue colour scheme which is rarer and more fun than its black counterpart.
What I love about this watch is, firstly, it’s a birth-year watch with the bracelet dated to the same month as my birthday. Secondly, the vintage vibes come through strongly with the perfect, creamy lume plots, the matte blue dial and the plexiglass crystal. Thirdly, who doesn’t love the colour blue? It’s becoming harder and harder to find dials in this condition and in the past few years, the prices for these vintage Tudor Submariners have shot up.
Blancpain – Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec Limited Edition for Hodinkee
Normally, Blancpain watches are a bit too large for my wrist but the case used for this limited edition fits just right (it’s 40mm but wears more like 39mm). This particular model was released in collaboration with Hodinkee and pays homage to the original Fifty Fathoms diver watch, which arguably was the first dive watch ever made but that’s a story for another day.
The standout and eye-catching feature on this watch is the orange and white circle located at six o’clock. This circle doesn’t just provide a fun injection of colour to the dial, but also serves a specific purpose as a moisture indicator, turning fully orange upon contact with water.
This function was key when the American combat forces were choosing which watch to equip their divers with in the late 1950s, as the divers themselves could see whether the water seals were compromised which would make the watch unreliable. This fact also explains the name “Mil Spec” (i.e. Military Specification) for this model. I always appreciate a good backstory to any watch and this is one of the most interesting around!
F.P. Journe – Chronomètre Souverain “Havana”
This model in the 40mm red gold variant is definitely at the top of my wish list! François-Paul Journe (the man behind F.P. Journe) is one of the most accomplished watchmakers of our time and has sought to push the technical boundaries of watchmaking. However, the first thing that caught my attention was the simple and clean dial layout and unique “Havana” colour, which is achieved by mixing gold and ruthenium.
Only then did I begin to dig further into the impressive technical side of this watch, which is hidden away in the caseback. F.P. Journe is famed for using 18K rose gold (since 2004) to craft its movements, which gives a truly impressive consistency in material (gold) from the case to the dial to the movement in this example here.
As hinted at by the name “Chronomètre Souverain”, Journe wanted the movement to focus on “chronometric excellence” (i.e. timekeeping precision) and utilised a dual mainspring barrel which would in summary provide a more consistent energy flow from start to finish versus a single mainspring barrel. A beautifully crafted, technically impressive timepiece.
MB&F – LM101
Another wish list piece which serves as the perfect reminder that mechanical wristwatches are basically miniature, intricate machines on your wrist! I chose the LM101 as it’s the most wearable model in the catalogue with its 40mm dimensions. And in particular, the LM101 with the sunburst blue dial, which I feel complements the light-ish grey colour of the stainless steel case.
The highlight of this piece is no doubt the 14mm flying balance wheel situated squarely in the middle of the dial, which incorporates a Straumann double hairspring. The workings of the flying balance wheel remind me of a beating heart and is quite mesmerising to watch in action. Other visually attractive elements include the domed crystal as well as the slightly domed white dials which combine to give a floating effect. MB&F is short for Maximilian Büsser & Friends. In this model, the “Friends” element shines through where H. Moser & Cie provided the double hairspring and the famed watchmaker Kari Voutilainen advised on the design and finishing of the movement.