Lex Mak’s six top watch picks

An architect, entrepreneur and self-confessed coffee connoisseur guided by the motto “Dress well. Drink well. Live well”, Lex Mak shares six top picks from his collection as well as Watches and Wonders 2023

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15400ST

When i purchased this particular watch, a 41mm Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref 15400ST boutique edition with a rare navy dial, I knew I was getting deep into the rabbit hole of collecting watches. I purchased it the same year that I turned 30, so it’s an important piece in my collection as it represents a time of maturity and success in my life. I still recall at the time it was the most money I had spent on anything, let alone a watch. About a week into wearing the
Royal Oak, I accidentally deeply grazed the bezel against a rough concrete wall. I was devastated at the time but years later, I wear the scratches proudly.

F.P.Journe Élégante 48

F.P.Journe is a relatively new independent watchmaker in the world of high- complication timepieces but one that has a truly enamoured following, which includes myself. Its watches, especially the early production pieces, have become notable talking points in the auction circles over the past five to eight years, which is remarkable for a brand that was only founded in 1999. The Élégante reference actually began as a timepiece made specifically for the wives of male clients of the maison, with its beautifully elegant tortue case, simple function and slim profile. The collection was later updated to include a larger-sized model suitable for jealous male collectors; the Élégante 48, with its handsome titanium case, unique electro-mechanical movement, alluring luminescent dial and impeccable finishing. As an independent watch manufacturer, F.P.Journe produces around 1,000 watches total in a year – one can understand the exclusivity and resulting desirability of their timepieces. Each watch is largely hand-finished and signed with “Invenit et Fecit” (Latin for “invented and made”), which refers to the watches being an original conception and created by only the best craftsmen.

Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse 3748

While i have been more sensible with my approach to collecting recently, I do spend a lot of my time researching, learning and furthering my horological knowledge. With time, I found that my interest needle has shifted more towards vintage and neo-vintage pieces produced in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. Believe me, when you spend time diligently researching, you will uncover many often- undervalued treasures from the past waiting to be rediscovered. One of them is the Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse. This reference is one of the brand’s “best- kept secrets”, stripped of all ostentation and, in my view, the purest and most elegant expression of design from Patek Philippe. Many people are unaware that the Golden Ellipse is also a Gérald Genta design. The Golden Ellipse is a truly timeless and elegant masterpiece even today and I especially love that it goes totally unnoticed most of the time when I wear it.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph

The biggest highlight from Watches and Wonders 2023 for me was unapologetically another timepiece from the “watchmaker of watchmakers”: Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso Tribute Chronograph in stainless steel. It features a classic and handsome grey-blue sunray dial on the front face, somewhat more subtle and sophisticated than any coloured Reverso dials of the past. Flip over the case and there’s a chameleon openworked dial that showcases the first return of the retrograde chronograph to a rectangular architecture since 1996. The mastery of fine watchmaking can be admired for its mechanical complexity as well as for its refined finishing – there’s a great sense of visual depth in the new calibre 860, all within a case that’s just 12mm thick. The Reverso Tribute Chronograph represents outstanding value for a rare-complication Reverso and a truly unique sports chronograph.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small Seconds Q713842J

There is no more iconic and inventive timepiece from the 20th century than the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, one of the longest continuous-production timepieces of all time. The Reverso’s infamous reversible case was originally created to withstand the rigours of polo matches and, together with its subtle Art Deco lines, has made it one of the world’s most recognisable watches. To me, a JLC Reverso should always be two things. Firstly, it should be thin, which means a single face with no complications. Secondly, the case should be finished in stainless steel and not in any precious metals. The new Reverso Tribute Small Seconds ticks both these boxes, perfectly embodying the notion of “less is more” – the watch is understated, classy and timeless. It measures 8.51mm in thickness so it wears most comfortably on the wrist and hides under shirt cuffs with ease. The dial features a handsome silvered grey, opaline dial, minute track and applied numerals, and the hands are the classical Dauphine style – all this evokes the
Art Deco-inspired codes of the original Reverso from 1931.

Cartier Privé Tank Normale Platinum

The purveyor of elegance, Cartier announced at Watches and Wonders a 100-piece Tank Normale with a full platinum bracelet and it didn’t go unnoticed. If you have the pleasure of wearing a platinum timepiece, you’ll relate to the notion of “quiet luxury” – the watch may be mistakenly thought to be finished in stainless steel or white gold by the average observer. But eagle-eyed folks will recognise that the cabochon is a ruby stone (the signature Cartier colour) rather than the typical blue sapphire, thus representing something very special. The Privé Tank Normale features a contemporary vertical brushed-satin finish overall, which includes the bracelet, the dial and case with a high polishing on the bezel. In typical Cartier style, the dial features Roman numerals, railway minute
track and sword hands, which for the platinum model are in polished silver. The sapphire crystal is also bevelled, evoking a more bubbly acrylic crystal of the past that is particularly dashing.

Also see: Maslow So’s watch collection

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