We are very pleased to release our second interview with a watch collector and introduce you to our friend Nop (full IG name: @nopstar83). Nop is well known among watch collectors for his great taste but also for being crazy enough to wear some of his stunning pieces during gym sessions. We fell in love with his collection ever since we joined Instagram. So, of course, we wanted to interview him!
You’re going to love him. Don’t forget to check out some of his best pieces from his collection at the bottom of this article.
TCC: At what age did you start collecting watches?
I got into watch-collecting in my mid-twenties and have been collecting for about 12 years now.
TCC: What was the first watch that you purchased?
My first watch was a “hand-me-down” from my dad: a quartz Pierre-Cardin “Cartier Tank Homage” on a steel bracelet that I wore everywhere until it stopped working.
The first luxury watch that I bought for myself was a Tag Heuer Monaco on leather strap. From there, I got the Panerai bug, then AP, RM, Patek; however, I always had more of an affinity with Audemars Piguet for some reason. I’ve even collected some independent brands like Linde Werdelin etc. as well.
TCC: What is the latest addition to your collection?
My last 3 recent purchases have been very exciting. I bought the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 26579CE Perpetual Calendar Ceramic, and the Royal Oak 15202ST 40th anniversary edition in Steel.
TCC: Others collect cars or art. You are collecting luxury watches. What inspired that choice?
My love for watches began with my dad who gave me a Pierre Cardin “Cartier Tank homage” on a steel bracelet when I was 20 and I wore it everywhere; to swim, run, workout, and I beat it up till it finally broke. It was then that I became hooked on watches. I saw them as the quintessential men’s jewelry. While women have earrings, rings and necklaces etc., all men really desire to wear are watches in my opinion. I see watches as an extension of a man’s personality and artistic expression. Each watch has a story that binds it to his wearer and it adds color to one’s life.
TCC: How big is your watch collection?
I’ve owned more than 100 watches in my time collecting but I’ve had to consolidate my collection recently and now I’ve only got 3 watches that I kept: My Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar 26579CE, my AP Royal Oak 15202ST , my Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT.
I do have 2 more watches coming in – one by a brand that everyone somehow finds a reason to hate, although I feel the hatred/flack is unjustified (and what’s cool is that it’s a special edition made just for the Singapore Watch club that I’m a member in!) ; and another by a cool new independent brand from France that came up with a fully skeletonized in house movement with a peripheral rotor under USD 5K (not too shabby!).
Apart from this, I actually started my own watch brand as well. Vilhelm Watches was inspired by my love for masculine sporty watches such as AP, RM etc. and uses innovative materials and sophisticated case construction. I had always wanted to start my own watch brand but procrastinated until the birth of my first child, which made me want to prove to him that he could follow his dreams and not be scared of failure. Hence the name Vilhelm, which was inspired by his name, Liam, which is short from William or Vilhelm. Also, Vilhelm means Helmet of Will, so the logo I chose is of a Spartan Helmet because who doesn’t find a Spartan helmet the epitome of masculinity, right?
The Collectors Circle would like to add that a watch collector is not defined by the amount of watches he owns. It doesn’t matter if he has 5 watches or 500 watches. A true collector is defined by his passion & knowledge for watches. We pick our interviewees based on these two factors and Nop is definitely a unique person, who brings both to the table and shares it on a daily basis with his followers on social media.
TCC: What’s your favorite brand? And Why?
I’ve always had the closest affinity to Audemars Piguet. The masculine feel of their watches like the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore range was what drew me to them at the beginning.
I like their approach to going more direct with their business model in order to closer with their clientele and also build up their brand equity by controlling their distribution chain and consolidating their lines to better focus their resources in order to maintain their demand and exclusivity.
This can be seen by the premiums on their Royal oak range which is the majority of their annual production and I think this bodes well for owners like myself in terms of the residual value and desirability of our collection.
TCC: What’s your favorite piece in your collection? And Why?
It would have to be my Royal Oak ceramic perpetual calendar. From the aventurine moonphase with the photo-realistic moon, the beautiful symmetry and sub-dial placement on the face, the very neat week indicator that allows you to quickly glance at it and immediately know how many weeks into the year you are currently in, and, of course, the amazing finish of the ceramic case and bracelet that is by far the best in the industry when it comes to ceramic.
TCC: And what are you looking to add to your collection next?
The 15407ST double-balanced open worked Royal Oak. The gold bridge of the balance wheel is so mesmerizing and the finish is jaw-dropping.
TCC: Imagine you can keep only two watches in your collection – one for the daily use and one for special occasions (e.g. weddings). Which two would you pick?
My 26579CE could be for daily use and special occasions due to the ceramic properties making it extremely scratch resistant and hence very wearable and sporty. I would keep just the 26579CE and the 15202ST.
TCC: What is your favorite complication?
The perpetual calendar on my 26579CE, in particular, is my favorite because I don’t need to change the date and at a quick glance I know all I need to know. The moonphase is so aesthetically pleasing as well.
TCC: What are your Top 5 accounts on IG to follow?
TCC: People on Instagram know you for wearing your Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ceramic Black during your gym sessions. Do you feel guilty wearing such a stunning piece while working out?
Haha… to be fair, I take very good care of my watches and I can say I’ve never knocked them around when in the gym. I don’t slam my weights as well. I am very mindful of them and very used to it over the many years of practice and conditioning.
I believe that if you can’t enjoy your watches in your everyday lifestyle, then I’d rather not buy that watch in the first place.
TCC: Do you see watches as an investment or as a hobby?
I see them as a unique way of enjoying your hard-earned money in the form of a hobby whilst still having good liquidity. I don’t agree that it should be viewed as an investment because there are plenty of better ways to make money. When someone gets into watches just because they think they can make money of it, I feel sad for them because he’s missing the point of collecting watches which is, ultimately, to appreciate the amazing horological craftsmanship, and to share and forge bonds with fellow watch enthusiasts.
TCC: Where do you see the future of the watch industry from your perspective as collector? Rising prices or watch bubble?
When I started watch collecting, there wasn’t Instagram and many forms of interest groups that are now available online and the market was mainly comprised of real watch lovers and collectors. And the prices were much more reasonable. Now, with social media and plenty of information online, the demand and interest from the general public has increased exponentially. You have folks who aren’t necessarily interested in watches but more interested in making a quick buck. That has created a lot more hype and, in turn, a form of unrealistic price inflation. Time will tell whether these prices will continue but I think eventually it will come down. And those folks who bought the watches to make money will be in for a painful surprise.
Thank you so much for your time Nop. Lovely meeting you, a down to earth and charming watch lover. We really enjoyed the interview with you and I am sure our readers did as well.Follow him on IG @nopstar83 to stay tuned for his upcoming pieces.
All pictures from Instagram account: @nopstar83