In Wrist Watch — our monthly column dedicated to watches in the wild and those who wear them — resident horology enthusiast Randy Lai highlights key finds that each exhibit some aspect of excellence (e.g. craft, collectability, historicity). This month, he checked in with Quinton Ng: one half of the team behind classic men’s accessories store AntiQlockwise; and a local authority on vintage watches.
Last month, trade show season for the watch industry finally came to a close. We’ve been writing an awful lot about the new SIHH and Baselworld novelties since January, and while there’s still plenty to get excited about on that front, it’s only fair we turn our attention to another equally interesting part of the picture — vintage watches. Despite accounting for over one tenth of the Swiss watch industry’s global sales, Hong Kong has (for a long time) been notoriously lukewarm on the idea of “pre-loved” timepieces. Thankfully, within the last few years demand in the secondary market has shown promising signs of growth, and much of that is down to guys like Quinton Ng.
Those familiar with the local vintage scene are likely to recognise the Ng family name: Quinton’s father Johnny is a well-regarded restorer of antique clocks & watches — Sotheby’s have engaged the latter to do complex repairs on their lots on various occasions — while the family has operated a multi-location retailer, Berne Horology, for 30+ years. Ng is still deeply involved in his ancestral business but his personal passion — mixing vintage watches with tailoring and Americana — led him to co-found AntiQlockwise in 2017. “Over the past three to four years, I met a few menswear industry guys who influenced me a lot. Interacting with them got me thinking: watches and classic clothing are in fact in the same category. You can really broaden the conversation about watches when you explore matching them with different stylistic outlooks.” Check out a selection of Ng’s favourite timepieces — versatile, handsome, timeless, as perfect with a sportcoat as they are raw jeans — below!
Rolex Prince (circa 1990s)
“The Rolex Prince was super hyped back in the 90s. it’s not a big watch by modern standards, but remains a very elegant piece. The dial design features a big sub-seconds and printed Roman numerals that are mirror reflected — you simply don’t see this kind of attention to detail in the new models. I think the new Cellini Prince is just flat out disappointing when compared to a watch like this. To be sure, the old Prince models are still pretty expensive but it’s getting harder and harder to find a good example.”
Rolex Bubbleback (Beyer double signed)
“As many people know, the Rolex Bubbleback was the first watch which Rolex manufactured with an automatic movement. It’s one of the most iconic models released by the brand that is no longer in production today. On a more personal level, it happens to be the first watch that I ever remembered seeing as a child. Naturally, there’s a wealth of different models for the Bubbleback; and the piece I’ve chosen to show features a “double signed” dial (bearing the signature of legendary retailer Beyer Chronometrie) that’s also black. This combination of features is extremely hard to find in a Bubbleback. Over the years, many pieces have had their dials refurbished, so for collectors finding an original printed dial in good condition is simply gold. It’s a small size for many people — but that doesn’t bother me in the least.”
OMEGA Speedmaster (Ref. 145.0022)
“Yet another iconic piece made by Omega. In recent years, Speedmasters from every era have been surging crazily in price. This in spite of the fact that the Speedy’s design hasn’t changed much since the 60s. The model shown is the Reference 145.0022, first serially produced in the 80s. It’s powered by the calibre 861, an extremely reliable manual-wind movement. The Reference 145.0022s aren’t as expensive as the 60s Speedies, so for someone who’d like a relatively affordable chronograph with a classic design outlook, this is a great piece to go for. The only inconvenience is that you have to wind it everyday.”
“The Day-Date is another of my all-time favourite designs — the size is just right for me. Compared to what the new models are going for, you can pick up many of the older Day-Dates for well within HK$100,000. This particular piece is fairly rare, as it features a “bark” bezel and bracelet in 18k white gold. You can find loads of examples in yellow gold, but getting your hands on the white variant isn’t nearly as easy. When buyers come in to look for a Day-Date, I always suggest they look for models with colour — the dials on old Day-Dates always exhibit some degree of colour variation, and if this “patination” happens to occur in a peculiar enough way, the overall value of the watch may go up.”
Rolex Datejust (Ref. 1601)
“So the Datejust is a design that I wear quite a lot. Like a lot of the other watches in this lineup, it’s made with a gold case: I pick a lot of these models because they offer a pretty good value-to-price ratio as compared to stainless steel. This particular Datejust is a 1601 that’s in really great condition. The dial — with its baton hands and stick indexes — is also pretty special, making this a solid on and off-duty watch. It’s powered by the calibre 1570, which is one of the most dependable movements that Rolex has ever made. Easy to wear and characteristic of the world’s most iconic watchmaker, this 1601 is a great model to buy if you’re just starting out on your collecting journey.”
AntiQlockwise, G/F, 3 St. Francis Yard, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. The AntiQlockwise showroom is available by appointment only; for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.