Describing himself as an old guard, Dato Sri Jeffrey Raymond’s enthusiasm for watches began at the age of 14 when his mother bought him a Timex from a street vendor along Chow Kit Road in Kuala Lumpur.
“When I got home, I admired and played with till it was night. I even slept with it! That was the moment when my fascination with watches started and, frankly, I am still that 14-year-old schoolboy each time I pick up a new watch,” he laughs.
Now 66 years old and a successful businessman whose company assembles seats for a luxury car manufacturer, Dato Sri Jeffrey continues to admire the horological works of many brands and has built an extensive collection for himself. Here, he shares his thoughts on his collection and why he's not satisfied yet.
Do you consider yourself a watch collector?
I consider myself a watch enthusiast. I buy all kinds of watches that fascinate me. I spend quite a bit on independent watchmakers like MB&F, Urwerk and a few others. I feel these independent watchmakers do not follow rules; they’re very creative and what they do is actually create pieces of joy because when you wear their watches, that’s what you feel.
Dato' Jeffrey explains the power reserve of this MB&F Legacy Machine No. 1 Silberstein moves vertically.
Collectors are a different group of people who invest in old and rare watches. They also spend a lot of time managing their collections. For me, the joy I get from every timepiece that I buy and own never fades away. I consider my watches some of my greatest treasures and they’re an extension of my personality.
Dato' Jeffrey considers this Hublot Classic Fusion Enamel Britto one of his more unique 'art pieces'.
Do your children share the same passion?
My sons and daughter come by quite frequently and pick out what they want, except for my latest pieces (laughs). My daughter especially, has the same passion for watches as I do but she likes different styles. At the end of the day, you can’t be around a watch enthusiast and not have it rub off on you.
You seem to have special affection for Corum.
The Corum Golden Bridge Round - one of Dato' Jeffrey's many Corum timepieces.
My love affair with Corum started in the late 1980s when I came across their Admiral Cup in gunmetal and gold. I was so intrigued and immediately fell in love with it. I tried looking for it everywhere from Malaysia to Geneva but I couldn’t find one. However, as luck would have it, a chance meeting with a friend led me to it. Can you imagine my joy when I was actually holding one?
This Corum Golden Bridge Rectangle is one of Dato' Jeffrey's favourite pieces.
Since then, I have been a great fan of Corum, especially their Golden and T Bridge. I now have six Golden Bridges including a ladies’ one for my wife. It’s not over though, as I’ve heard Corum has released their latest Golden Bridge Stream, one in gold and another in gold with red sides. A good friend of mine has told me that they’ll be arriving soon and yes, they are definitely on my radar.
In your collecting experience, how have watches changed over the years?
A fan of the Rolling Stones, Dato' Jeffrey has in his collection the Zenith El Primero Rolling Stones special edition.
Watches now are more fascinating with a great many complications, materials and designs. It’s like cars. Back then, cars were a lot more conservative but today, they are so much more fun! It’s not just something that gets you from one place to another. The applications it incorporates also help you to truly enjoy the pleasure of driving no matter what car you own. Similarly, modern day watches are more fun and you derive more joy in owning them.
Are you particular about the movements in your watches?
You see, when you say watch movements, you immediately move into a realm where you have thousands of movements from different brands. Some use other watchmakers’ movements while others use in-house calibres. Look at Chanel—though they might not be considered a traditional watchmaker, would you believe they just released their first movement and it was for a men’s watch?
I love their Monsieur De Chanel (above) and bought the only one in Malaysia. It’s absolutely gorgeous with a retro and minimalistic look but its unique 240-degree retrograde minute display is truly impressive. When you see it, you’ll understand why it’s fabulous.
What do you think about quartz movements?
Quartz watches help keep one of the best and most accurate times but more importantly, they drive down the costs of watches, making them more affordable. Those who buy quartz watches aren’t necessarily in the couldn’t-care-less segment. There are many brands with really great looking quartz watches and at different price points. I don’t tell people what brands to go for when it comes to a quartz as some of them are really super looking pieces so it’s really up to individual tastes.
Are you satisfied with the watches you’ve amassed so far?
Breguet Tradition 7067
Satisfied? No way! No watch enthusiast I know is ever satisfied with what they have. Apart from the Corums I’ve picked up, I also got a couple of Breguets this year. Every time I see something new, I become excited, but nowadays I carefully pick my pieces to maximise my love and joy of owning a new watch.
Photography by Kah Mun/Myth Studios