Since it started in 2015, local horology enthusiasts’ group Singapore Watch Club (SWC) has worked with top Swiss brands to create two customised, commemorative timepieces — a Ulysse Nardin Classico Manufacture Grand Feu and an Hublot Classic Fusion “L.A.B Fusion”. The former was a 20-piece special edition produced for SWC’s second anniversary, and the latter was a 30-piece edition made for its fourth anniversary.
Now, the club celebrates its sixth year with a collection that takes things in a different direction: Working with Cartier, it has created 18 unique timepieces, instead of a single model. The club chose to put its mark on six models — Cloche, Tonneau, Santos Dumont, Tank Asymetrique, Tank Cintree and Tank Louis Cartier. Each is available in pink gold, yellow gold or platinum.
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SWC founder Tom Chng explains, “We wanted to experiment with a different approach to making a Special Edition. We did not want to do X quantity of one design, but instead, do X designs in one piece each. Cartier’s vast selection of timeless shapes, in simple time-only executions, were the perfect canvases for such a conceptual play.”
The custom touches are pleasingly subtle. Each of the SWC x Cartier watches has a classic Roman layout on a vintage-inspired brushed dial in silver. What sets these special editions apart are a tiny SWC secret signature, tucked in the minute track above the 6 o’clock numeral; as well as a Roman numeral VI that has been rotated so that it is upright — a nod, of course, to the club’s sixth anniversary. The caseback of each watch is also engraved with one of the club’s three values: Passion (pink gold), Sincerity (yellow gold) and Humility (platinum).
Elaborating on how these ideas came about, Chng says, “Some of the design elements were brewed from within the club, but Cartier contributed a great deal in terms of flexibility and creative guidance. The secret SWC signature was of course inspired by the brand’s heritage of hiding their branding in one of the Roman numerals. Flipping the VI upright to give it importance was a simple yet elegant idea that we are really proud of.”
The conceptualisation and production process took nearly two years. Chng says, “Brainstorming started in April 2020, with the first design draft rendered four months later. The watches went into production last February.”
Even though six years is relatively young, it’s still a meaningful milestone, especially considering the challenges thrown up by the pandemic over the past two years. Chng says, “The pandemic has really impacted our ability to meet up as a club. We used to have a GTG (get-together) every month, easily hitting 50 pax each time. We’ve not had that for over two years now.
“But during the pandemic, we pivoted our attention towards better quality and more meaningful content. The watch market has evolved during the pandemic, with demand for certain brands and watches skyrocketing. It became our goal to guide our audience to identify value and resist the temptation to blindly jump into hype. This collaboration with Cartier is in line with that goal; to appreciate a historically rich brand that plays by its own rules.”
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Unsurprisingly, all the SWC x Cartier pieces, which were made available to the club’s members and associates, are already spoken for. Prices range from $20,000 for the Tank Louis Cartier in gold to $50,000 for the Cloche in platinum. Given that the allocation of sought-after watches can be a touchy issue these days, were there any challenges in deciding who would get which of these 18 timepieces?
Says Chng, “What I personally love about this set is there isn’t a definite clear winner. Different shapes appeal to different people, and the metals too. Some members picked their watch based on the core value that resonated with them the most, some did so simply based on aesthetics. Some sought out the artistic shapes, some preferred something more wearable day to day. There were certain hot favourites that had to go into ballot, but eventually, everyone got a piece that they were proud of and happy with.”
And which did he pick? “The Cloche, in platinum. I love how this watch looks on the wrist, and especially how it sits on a desk.” Here’s to more good years.
This article originally appeared in The Peak