Street Culture Pioneer-entrepreneur Feroze McLeod Defies Convention, Even In His Watch Collection

From Pierre Cardin to Rolex Daytona — how the godfather of Singapore’s barbering scene went from a child fascinated by stylish watches to marking his adult milestones with cult horological...
by Andre Frois

Photo: Lawrence Teo

Barbering, street culture, and high horology make curious bedfellows, but Feroze McLeod’s passions are underpinned by his love of gentlemanly sartorialism. It could surprise some that the entrepreneur, who took just 12 years to expand his business from a British-inspired barber shop to a mini lifestyle empire, has been a watch enthusiast since childhood.

McLeod is so fascinated with Rolex that he has been marking his major milestones by acquiring its iconic models. “The Swiss brand’s utilitarian essence resonates deeply with me. Owning a part of its heritage is the reason for my affinity for vintage Rolexes,” says Singapore’s pioneer in men’s grooming, who has forged his legacy with a string of successful businesses.

A busy day at grooming parlour Hounds of the Baskervilles. (Photo: Hounds of the Baskervilles)

An early start

Born in Singapore to a Scottish-New Zealander father and Malay-Singaporean mother, McLeod, well-known for his immaculate yet unorthodox style, has loved playing dress-up since he was a little boy. “My uncle, my mum’s youngest brother, is the vain one in the family.

He had a Pierre Cardin watch with a black leather strap and gold case, which I greatly admired. At the young age of 11, I would sneak his watch out of his room, wear it out, and return it at the end of the night,” he recounts.

During his teenage years, he attended boarding school in New Zealand and discovered his knack for design, creating graphics for friends’ skateboarding videos, punk concert posters, and band merchandise.

Bada Bink! Tattoo Firm is McLeod’s second business venture. (Photo: Bada Bink! Tattoo Firm)

This laid the foundation for his training in the traditional arts of barbering and tattooing, for which he had moved to Australia in the noughties to pursue. In 2012, he founded his upscale barber and shaving parlour, Hounds of the Baskervilles, which would kickstart his entrepreneurial journey and watch collecting journey.

Dream come true

Hounds broke even within the first year, raked in “tremendous revenue” in the second, and stabilised in earnings in the third. Following the launch of his second venture, Bada Bink! Tattoo Firm, it was time for a pat on the back. “I wanted to buy something tangible to commemorate my hard work and success,” he adds.

Rolex Submariner 16610V “Kermit”. (Photo: Lawrence Teo)

The reward had to be the Rolex Submariner 16610V, also known as the “Kermit,” which he was smitten with as a child. The model features a bezel in the brand’s signature colour, green — which McLeod had also adopted for Hounds’ branding.

As he recalls making that fateful trip with a thick envelope of cash to HJ Luxury, a prominent watch reseller in Far East Plaza, he says, “Handing over that amount was a painful but surreal feeling. I felt that I had finally made it and become someone. When I went home and opened the watch box, I remember being amazed that something so small could be of great value. I saw myself in the watch because I’m a small fish from almost nothing.”

After acquiring the “Kermit”, McLeod bought the Rolex Explorer II 16570 with a red GMT hand. Like how he had eschewed the mainstream for subcultures in his career, he also embraced unconventional timepieces long before they were universally sought-after.

“People hating on the Explorer II motivated me even more to get it. It didn’t matter that many people made fun of the watch and its white dial back then because I was drawn to its aesthetics. The Explorer II and white-dial models would eventually blow up.”

Rolex Daytona 16528. (Photo: Lawrence Teo)

His third purchase was a Rolex GMT-Master 16753 with a brown and gold “Root Beer” dial. Collectors were slow to embrace this watch, which had earned the jocular nickname “nipple dial” due to its conical protruding hour-markers. McLeod, however, couldn’t stop thinking about its big luminescent features and two-toned Jubilee bracelet.

A few years later, he would sell this “Clint Eastwood Rolex” to fund his most expensive purchase yet: the Rolex Explorer II 1655, also known as the “Steve McQueen”. His most recent acquisition is a full gold Rolex Daytona 16528, after making a large profit from letting go of his vintage Mercedes 280 SLC. “My dealer had found this Daytona for me with its original box and a full set of papers intact, so it was very difficult to pass up on this grail watch.”

Important lessons

G-Shock x Youths In Balaclava DW-5600YIB23. (Photo: Lawrence Teo)

“Establishing a relationship with a trusted dealer is crucial when embarking on a collecting journey. That said, be careful because it is very easy for a dealer to manipulate you, especially in the vintage watch sphere,” says McLeod, who advises young hobbyists to read up and find out about a model they are eyeing.

“Also, with the rise of watch theft worldwide, I encourage fellow collectors to learn to love non-luxury watches.”

I remember being so amazed that something so small could be of such great value. I saw myself in the watch.

Among the casual pieces McLeod wears, especially on travels to cities with high crime rates, is the limited-edition G-Shock DW-5600YIB23, a collaboration between Singaporean fashion label Youths In Balaclava and Casio’s iconic line. It is important that, as an independent fashion designer himself who has just launched the luxe-but-street-born brand Pharoah’s Horses, McLeod supports his peers in our fledgling fashion scene.

The new Pharoah’s Horses label launched McLeod’s career as an independent fashion designer. (Photo: Pharoah’s Horses)

His open-mindedness and thirst for new adventures extend well beyond the collecting universe. He is currently busy preparing for the Pharaoh’s Horses Tattoo Invitational at the Mandala Club at the end of May while juggling his commitments here and in Bali, which is home to Maison Meru, his cafe and surf lifestyle boutique that farms and roasts its own coffee beans.

Ultimately, everything he adores — from his tattoos and suits to his work and timepieces — has a compelling tale. And there’s no stopping him: “I’ve ventured into fashion and retail because I want to keep telling stories, with and without my hands.”

This story originally published on The Peak Singapore.

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