An enthusiastic watch collector with over 120 pieces and counting, Erwin Chu shares his top picks and why they’re worth looking at
IWC – Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition ‘Special Watch for Aviators’
This is a project for exclusive collectors by exclusive collectors. Initiated on a napkin at a gathering of watch collectors, this limited edition of merely 27 pieces got its design cues from legendary IWC vintage models the Pilot’s Watch MK11 and the Ref 437. The one in my collection is the only piece in Asia, and each of the 27 owners knows who the other 26 are. A simple watch but it steals the show every time one is in the house.
Omega – Speedmaster Calibre 321
This one doesn’t yell for attention, but if you know you know – this is the crown jewel among the Omega Speedmaster models that one can still get from the boutiques. Most watches are made in a production line, as in one person does the assembly of one part of the movement and then passes it to the next station. But the Omega 321 has one watchmaker assembling the whole movement from start to finish, much like the engine of a high-end sports car versus a regular production.
Blancpain – Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC Limited Edition for Hodinkee
This is called MIL-SPEC because the original one was made by military order. It differs from other diving watches (Blancpain actually created the first such watch in the 1950’s after CEO Jean-Jacques Fiechter’s near-death experience while diving due to a faulty timepiece) in that it has a white-orange orb on the dial that changes colour when there is humidity inside the watch, indicating it is no longer waterproof. I wonder if they’ll repair mine for free if there’s humidity! Hodinkee’s special order of 250 pieces features a matte case and a few other details making the watch more military-looking compared to the more luxurious Blancpain iterations.
Breitling – Superocean Heritage ’57 Special Edition
Brands can apply rainbow colour indexes onto any watch they want but they need to know what they’re doing, and Breitling certainly does. When they revived this diving watch that served a sport elegance purpose back in the ’50s, they made an edition of 250 pieces in a black dial with rainbow indexes. That model sold out within hours after its release and the response was so favourable that they released another version in a blue dial, this time limited to 1,000 pieces, and it sold out in the blink of an eye again.
Patek Philippe – Nautilus 5711/1A-010
An object of desire for many, this piece is certainly a conversation starter because people will always ask how I managed to acquire one. Putting the investment idea aside, the Nautilus 5711 is a watch with a long history and beautiful design, and its sleek profile makes it a versatile watch that can go with nearly all dress codes. This one was recently discontinued so if someone wants a piece, they can ask for the 5811, which is in white gold.
Vacheron Constantin – Overseas Self-Winding Blue
Another timeless design, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Blue is a pillar of the sport elegance department. Why is the blue colourway specifically mentioned for this one? Because this blue is just amazing – it’s radiant and deep. My wife, who is not into watch collecting, can spot this colour anytime it appears on an actor’s or actress’s wrist when she’s watching Netflix. This watch has an easy strap/bracelet changing system so you can fit the look of the watch to your mood of the day too. It’s my recent favourite.