My Watch Story: Hosanna SweeWritten by Alvin Wong
“Our timepieces are extensions of ourselves.”
Perhaps it has to do with her passion for photography, but Hosanna Swee appears to be drawn to the deeper expressions of art and craft – a sensibility she also expresses when it comes to watch appreciation.
“Just like any other pastime, you have to attempt to strip the layers, and delve into the provenance and craft that goes into each timepiece,” she says. “Like photography, it's fundamentally about the craftsmanship and, in a sense, artistry."
A creative director by trade, Swee says that her interest in horology was cultivated by her father, who instilled in her the virtues of punctuality and responsibility as he taught her about “the significance of time”. That aside, the role that watches play as milestone markers in her family also nudged her to think of watches as more than just status symbols. “I came to associate time with storytelling and that sentimental value one has with these time instruments,” she says.
Serendipitously, Swee’s partner is also a watch enthusiast - Tom Chng, who founded the Singapore Watch Club. “I am confident to say that most of the timepieces I've acquired was because of Tom's foresight and the confidence he instilled in me,” she reveals.
That said, Swee more than holds her own in the typically male-dominated watch collecting circles with unique horological perspectives and tastes, displaying a penchant for vintage watches and “classic timepieces with a unique flair”.
“While I appreciate aesthetics and good design to a certain degree, what truly resonates with me are watches designed for a purpose. Above all else, I believe timepieces are an extension of ourselves, what we’ve become and hope to be in an ideal world,” she says.
ROLEX Day-Date 18238
“Over the years, I've developed my personal taste, which gravitates towards classic timepieces with a distinctive flair. The Rolex Day-Date is possibly the most distinguished timepiece in the world, worn by presidents, world leaders and innovators of our time. You can recognise a Day-Date by its classic silhouette, carved out of a solid block of gold with the time, date and day of the week spelt out in full. This evergreen masterpiece comes in a pyrite dial, akin to a contemporary camouflage grain with diamond indexes, which is surprisingly masculine.”
AUDEMARS PIGUET Royal Oak ‘Rectangle’
“Watches are very personal possessions. And what you're willing to pay for comes down to the perception of value. Something like the Royal Oak 5402 A Series could be worth many times more today than it was in 1972, which is kind of absurd. This watch epitomes this statement. Somebody loved it, then it got lost in the shuffle. As soon as my partner pointed this timepiece out to me when we were watch shopping in Hong Kong, I just knew it was a piece I had to purchase.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is an icon we are all familiar with. However, the lesser known, non-octagonal sibling is equally alluring. In 1977, Audemars Piguet announced a rectangular addition to the Royal Oak line, powered by the latest quartz technology of that time, which was discontinued after a short production run. Predominantly produced in bi-metal to cater to the prevailing trend of that era, this steel variant is somewhat of a unicorn. It's a joy to sport a matching non-octagonal Royal Oak with my partner. Till today, this remains a favourite in our collection."
F.P. JOURNE Elegante 48
" I've always admired F.P. Journe’s brand philosophy and craftsmanship. What's unique about the F.P. Journe Elegante is that it challenges the stigma of quartz watches, creating the most elaborate luxurious quartz watch the industry has ever seen. The watch features a titanium tortue-shaped case with a crisp satin-brushed and mirror polished surface. What I enjoy most about this timepiece is that after half an hour of inactivity, the Calibre 1210 ‘sleeps’. It's a novel and romantic notion to witness the timepiece come to life when picked up, automatically adjusting the hands to the current time.
The Elegante is a subtle piece which takes me from my desk to the great outdoors, and I enjoy that versatility.“
AUDEMARS PIGUET Royal Oak National Classic Tour First Edition
“There are watches which tell the world about who you are, the values they you stand for, and the relationships you hold close to your heart. Such is the case when it comes to logo dials, where they desire to pass on their legacy, for generations to come."
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and legendary timepieces in watchmaking history, and this is a refreshing take on the icon. It features a noteworthy monochromatic interpretation, done in conjunction with the National Classic Tour. Only 20 pieces were produced for the participants of the Belgian vintage car race.”
VACHERON CONSTANTIN 1973
“This is one of my most unique vintage timepieces. I acquired this with my partner in Tokyo. At first glance, one might assume that the dial of this Vacheron Constantin beauty is crafted in black enamel, or that it has developed an unusual and striking patina. In fact, this beauty features a two-tone black onyx dial, with a unique natural stone pattern cascading down the borders of the dial.
Inside the brushed and polished solid white gold TV-shaped case is the reliable manual-winding K1014 movement. This timepiece exudes quiet confidence and modern elegance, meticulously crafted by the oldest watchmaking company in the world. A conversational piece, for sure.”
AUDEMARS PIGUET Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar
“The joy of owning vintage timepieces is imagining the story behind these artefacts. It's been almost half a decade since the introduction of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and now this classic timepiece is more sought after than ever before.
When it was first introduced, this Quantieme Perpetual model was immortalised as one of the most significant horological innovations of the period as the world’s thinnest, self-winding perpetual calendar movement. This yellow gold variant features a lightly-textured, champagne dial with gold indicators and blued subsidiary hands. The layout of the dial includes the traditional indications of a perpetual calendar, excellently finished with a yellow gold case and bracelet, with bevelled and polished edges – striking the perfect balance between tradition and modernity.”
Alvin promises not to be a douche when talking about watches. He may have scoured the Basel and Geneva watch fairs for the past 15 years, and played an instrumental role to the growth of Singapore's pioneering horological and men's lifestyle publications, but the intrepid scribe seeks to learn something new with each story he writes.