Meet a watch buff who is crazy about Cartier

For collector Alvin Chong, special orders and exclusive editions take the luxury brand’s distinctive designs to the next level.
by Lynette Koh

Watch enthusiast Alvin Chong, who works in finance, is a big fan of Cartier.

How it all started

“I only started wearing watches when I was doing my National Service, because time discipline is important. I do a lot of research before buying something, so I started reading up about watches. As a huge culture and history buff, I was amazed that a watch such as the Rolex Submariner could have such a rich history and presence in popular culture, and that got me into horology and dive watches. The first watch I bought myself was a Seiko SKX007 diver.”

Dressing it up

“My tastes started shifting towards dress watches in university, when my lifestyle was more sedentary. Now that I’m working and often in business wear, dress watches are definitely the way to go. My first was a Cartier Tank Louis Cartier in rose gold. Before that, I had a steel Santos de Cartier. The Santos is between a sports and dress watch, and it’s the one that sent me down the rabbit hole irreversibly. (Laughs.)

“Entrancing” – Special-order Cartier Tank Cintree in platinum

Feeling special

“It took six months for my special-order platinum Tank Cintree (pictured) to be approved because Cartier doesn’t just accept special orders from anyone. I chose the Cintree because it’s one of the brand’s most iconic shapes. I wanted red numerals to match the ruby on the crown. It’s also a throwback to Cartier’s past, when it used rubies only for platinum watches with red numerals and text. I also just recently received another special-order piece, the Cloche (pictured). It’s platinum with blue numerals and a guilloche, ivory-coloured dial, because I like the contrast.”

“Eccentric” – Special-order Cloche de Cartier in platinum

Crazy for Cartier

“What I like about Cartier is that it has a distinctive aesthetic and interesting shapes. I like how its designers can derive inspiration from everyday objects, such as a tank or a nail, and translate them into elegant, powerful designs. This year, Cartier hosted me at Watches and Wonders in Geneva as well as their manufacture (in La-Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland). It was a watch enthusiast’s dream come true.”

“Historical” – Cartier Tank Cintree 100th Anniversary in yellow gold

No pain, no gain

“I got my 100th-anniversary Tank Cintree in yellow gold (pictured) in Dec 2020. I arranged to meet a friend at Bishan Park to shoot the watch, but I entered the wrong end of the park and had to walk 1.6km in the heat. When I met my friend at the pre-arranged restaurant, I immediately drank a pint of beer. The next day, I had a bad fever and food poisoning. Maybe it was heatstroke. But it was worth it because I was probably the first person to post photos of the watch on social media. (Watch blog) Hodinkee reached out and ended up featuring my photos.”

Visit Talking Time for more stories from watch collectors and their prized collections of time pieces.

Related: Cartier turns up the volume with its latest Clash jewellery designs

This story originally published in The Peak Singapore.

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