My Watch Story: Kelvin LeeWritten by Melissa Kong
“Every mechanical watch has a soul”.
Father, civil engineer and F&B entrepreneur (he runs Ah Hua Eating House with two other partners), Kelvin Lee, who goes by the Instagram handle @horojunkie, is a watch lover who wears many hats. And you can bet he has a collection of watches to go with his different roles (yes, even one that helps him with daddy duties). But he credits his introduction to the world of watches to an unlikely source—Japanese anime, Dragon Ball.
“I was huge fan of Dragon Ball as a kid. When I was seven years old, I passed a watch shop selling a watch with a Dragon Ball character on it. My parents refused to buy me the watch an I threw a tantrum over not being able to own it,” he reveals.
However, it was really in university that Kelvin discovered the beauty of horology. “I loved looking at the smooth sweep of the seconds hand in mechanical watches. Sometimes, I would just stare at it until I forgot that I actually wanted to read the time,” he says.
“As I learn more about horology, I feel every mechanical watch has a soul. These watches would have so much to tell if only they could talk,” Kelvin muses.
His first mechanical watch, a Seiko SNZF17 ‘Sea Urchin’ (above) could certainly tell a tale or two. “At that time, this was the only watch I could afford as an undergraduate. I even had to give tuition part time so I could earn enough to purchase it,” he discloses. “Till today, I still wear this watch to remind me of the excitement I had when I first bought it.”
Rolex Submariner Ref. 116610LN
This was my first Rolex and I want to give this piece to my firstborn daughter when she gets to an age when she can appreciate timepieces. I’ve always admired stories of parents leaving a collection of watches for their children. I would really love to see my daughter wear my Rolex and know that her father wore this watch through the good and bad times in his life. It can be a remembrance of me for her.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Noir Ref. 79220N
This was a lucky encounter for me. Launched in 2015, this model had a very short production run of just five to six months. Prices for the discontinued model then skyrocketed on the second-hand market and I wasn’t willing to fork out so much for it. I had actually taken this watch off my wish list but as it turned out, a fellow collector put his brand new piece up for sale in early 2018 at a reasonable price and I bought it. So two years after production of this model stopped, I was able to bring a brand new piece home.
One of the brand’s classics, its popular design and workhorse movement has led to this model’s continued production since 1996. My watch has been through a lot with me; I’ve worn it at work sites in rough conditions and used it as a distraction for my baby girl when she was cranky. Several times, she even slammed it on the floor! Even with all its battle scars, this reliable piece has continued beating. For a unique look, I bleached the bezel insert myself, lending it a more vintage feel.
I was introduced to the world of microbrand watches through the retailer, Watch Wonderland. I’m truly amazed at what these microbrands can offer at affordable prices. Gorilla Fastback’s unique design and case materials (using forged carbon, titanium, ceramic and stainless steel) caught my attention. This Fastback Phantom Black was the version I decided to take home in the end.
Like most people these days, Melissa tells the time with her phone. She considers serious timepieces works of art and thinks the perpetual calendar is the handiest complication to date (pun not intended). She's also a Grammar Nazi but promises not to judge if you can't tell the difference between "guilloche" and "guillotine".