Mervin Ling’s watch collection

Founder of the F.P.Journe Collectors’ Club, Mervin Ling‘s watch collection is both an expression of refined taste and a celebration of the art of horology in all its grandeur

F.P.Journe Chronomètre Bleu Tantalum

François-Paul Journe has to be my favourite independent watchmaker. To me,he is the living Picasso of watches. All his timepieces are wearable art. The dial of the Chronomètre Bleu is the most beautiful blue dial I have ever seen. It changes colour, from an almost black tone to a vivid chrome blue under sunlight. This colour is obtained from multiple layers of hand-applied lacquer, each polished to a mirror finish before the next one is applied. It’s also the most complicated of the collection to produce, because a majority of the dials don’t meet commercialisation standards. Another unique feature of this piece is the tantalum case measuring 39mm x 8.6mm thick. You don’t often find watches made in this material due to various reasons. It has a very high fusion temperature and its density makes it a nightmare as a commercial proposition. It’s also among the rarest of stable metals that can be found. There’s something rather attractive about this “time only” Journe. Most of his creations are extremely simple at first sight but so different when looked closer without any superfluous details. To me, this is a casual dress watch with great versatility. It has a strong charm to it. The use of Breguet numerals is unique as well.

Chaumet Ref. 10A Automatic White Gold

A watch does not have to be costly to be great. The Parisian house Chaumet combined centuries of tradition in jewellery and horology to offer a small collection of watches in the early ’90s. This “flying saucer” watch is in 18K white gold, with a jump hour complication. The digital display is a unique way to tell time with the hour in the top window and minutes at the bottom. The art deco piece certainly bears a similarity to Cartier models such as the Pebble and the Tank à Guichets. I have to admit I have a soft spot for unusual and rare watches. For this quintessential piece (35mm) with hidden lugs measuring only 7.2mm thickness, Chaumet commissioned Techniques Horlogères Appliquées S.A (THA – a movement company that François-Paul Journe along with Denis Flageollet from De Bethune and a few other masters created before they started their own brands) for the concept and design. You can clearly see a strong DNA of De Bethune from the crown, the mirror polish and futuristic design of the case.

Patek Philippe Ref. 3800/1A Steel

Given the nautilus is the most recognisable and iconic design from Patek Philippe, my pick is the mid-size Nautilus 3800 with a greenish-blue striped dial, which is one of the core pieces in my collection. In my opinion, no watch collection is complete without an elegant steel sport watch. The case size is 37.5mm and only 7.5mm in thickness. I particularly like how well it sits on the wrist. Its sleek profile makes it a versatile watch that can easily slide under my shirt cuff. It’s basically my go-to watch. I love the minimal and timeless design by watchmaker Gérald Genta. The shape of it is not your typical round or square watch. Its aesthetic retains the hallmarks of the first Nautilus from 1976, including the white gold tritium hour markers, and the bevelled, angular and polished edges of stainless steel bracelet. François-Paul Journe’s mentor George Daniels also has a Ref. 3800 (with his very own co-axial escapement) in his collection, worn as one of his daily watches.

F.P.Journe Tourbillon Souverain Coeur de Rubis

This piece caught my eye not only because of its charming tourbillon but also because of the philosophy behind the brand and how it resonates with me. Only 20 pieces were made in a ruby dial (I’m a fan of natural stones including mother-of-pearl, jade and coral). The Tourbillon Souverain helped get this brand off the ground. It introduced a distinctive design language that drew from classical designs of the great watchmakers, but also demonstrated an exceptional level of originality and contemporaneity that would be skilfully preserved in all subsequent models. Journe is a man who has a clear vision of what he wants to create, and very explicitly does not care what the rest of the world thinks. The tourbillon is a beautiful complication when executed correctly. Meanwhile, Journe’s tourbillon distinguished itself as the first-ever wristwatch to combine a tourbillon with a remontoir d’égalité. It also demonstrated his commitment to the fundamental ideals of horology by uniting the inventions of Abraham-Louis Breguet and John Harrison within the small confines of a wristwatch.

Roger W. Smith Series 5 Open Dial Yellow Gold with Roman Numerals

As someone who has upheld the family tradition of receiving an education in the United Kingdom and spent almost a decade living in the country, owning a timepiece crafted by Roger W. Smith, the greatest British watchmaker of our time, would be a dream come true. George Daniels has passed down to Roger the unfussy quality of British finishing that Daniels preferred in his watches. He builds his watches for people to wear and not for people to stick in a safety deposit box. We share the same value of “watches are built to be worn”. Another thing that I adore about Smith’s creations is that they are made entirely by hand, including the slender, purple-flamed gold hour and minute hands, and the English finished, frosted and gilded plate. Over the last two decades, Smith has made around 100 watches. The beautiful movement is revealed through the sapphire case back, very much inspired by the British style of pocket watches. The Series 5 is definitely the most beautiful open-dial watch I have ever seen.

Patek Philippe Minute Repeater Ref. 5078 Platinum

This discreet grand Complication by Patek Philippe has everything I love about the brand: minute repeater, leaf hands and a white enamel dial. Only connoisseurs will notice the splendiferousness of the watch. The sliding piece on the band activates the minute repeater, reporting time with serenity and clarity. This musical intermezzo, or “the music of time”, is a moment best enjoyed with eyes closed. I believe listening to a minute repeater should be an intimate moment with the watch owner; the sound of this is clear and melodious. The tone between hours, quarters and minutes shows a perfect combination of high and low. I can never get tired of listening to this. While modern Patek Philippe watches are growing larger and larger, it is exceptional that the brand can fit all this into this case, which measures 38mm. This piece is all about simple elegance. The brand set the quality standards so high that the owner Philippe Stern would personally test the acoustics of most of the minute repeater watches for the inimitable sound quality before they left the manufacturer. This is for me one of the most beautiful yet understated pieces from the king of high watchmaking.

Also see: Jackie Ho’s watch collection

In this Story: #watches & #jewellery