Ahead of Watches & Wonders we profile five ardent watch connoisseurs.
THE HIGH-TECH COLLECTOR: Kelvin Ma
As president of the Maserati Club Hong Kong, Kelvin Ma has a well-founded appreciation for all things luxurious – and watches are no exception. We meet at Stockton, where he coolly knocks back a scotch as he flashes a rose gold MB&F Horological Machine 5, an impressive timepiece by a progressive brand. Kelvin founded First Water Limited, a gold and diamond mine trading and jewellery company in 1993 which now operates on a global level. His appreciation for watchmaking stems from his in-depth knowledge of jewellery, as well as his passion for sports cars and racing. He co-founded the Maserati Club Hong Kong, an organisation that gathers car enthusiasts and invites them to be a part of local and global Maserati events.
What is your first watch memory?
My best watch memory is the first watch I bought for myself in high school. I was investing in currency from Form 3 – I got a 40 percent growth rate a year later and decided to buy a gold Rolex, because at the time they were all the rage.
What led to your love for timepieces?
Watches are classic, beautiful pieces that need to be cared for and worn, but they are also collectable items. They’re a good investment. I look for handcrafted watches that are truly one-of-a-kind, with only a few limited editions made.
What was your first watch?
Aside from my Rolex, my father gave me a traditional Omega watch. It’s important to have a classic watch and this one was a special vintage from the 1930’s.
If you could own any watch in the world, what would it be?
It changes a lot because I like to see what’s in style and the brands I like change too. I have a passion for buying Patek Philippe watches because I think they are truly classic.
What are your thoughts on smartwatches?
To be honest, I’m really uninterested in smartwatches. For me if I have an iPhone it defies the point of a smartwatch! Traditional watches are so versatile as well – I do a lot of sports and for precision, Rolex is the best. When I go skiing I use this unbranded watch perfectly made for ski enthusiasts as it is weatherproofed. If I have all these elements, I don’t see the point in buying a smartwatch.
Which timepiece is your most prized possession and why?
Sometimes brands are so expensive and you feel you still want to alter things here and there, which is why I prefer unbranded custom-made watches. I can completely personalise the watch to my technical and aesthetic specifications – what more could a man want? My absolute favourite is a custom-made watch with a diamond embellished bezel.
What are your three favourite models? And why?
Like I said it’s very hard to choose – like picking your favourite child! But generally I favour tourbillons, Rolex automatic watches and really special pieces from MB&F, like the one I am wearing now.
What are the most important criteria for you when investing in a watch?
From an investment standpoint, you really need to try and look at the brand’s future realistically. If it’s up-and-coming, that’s a great time to buy. Right now I am particularly into MB&F as I’ve just bought my first piece – this brand is truly amazing and it is my most coveted watch this year.
Will you be visiting the upcoming Watches & Wonders?
It depends on whether I’m in town, although if a brand has a party I will always try and drop by with my wife Heather. I’ll have a look at the novelties that come out and if there’s something I want to see then I will go – I really love watches but going to the fairs is a bit tedious sometimes.
Around how many watches do you own?