After launching our inaugural "My Watches and I" episode, I've been asked more than once about the whereabout of a second episode (so, I hope that means the decision to start this column is a welcomed one). Naturally I looked to watch lovers I'm personally close to - who are also kind enough to let me play around with their prized possessions - in search of my next interview subject. Luckily, during my short-but-eventful stint as a watch blogger, I've had the pleasure to meet and become more than acquainted with a number of them. Amongst them is Mr. Ed Scheckler (you can follow his Instagram here; just go and hit the follow button, you won't regret it), who got bitten hard by this haute horlogerie bug when he moved to Hong Kong some 8 years ago, citing the abundance of watch-related exposure the city has to offer.
Since then, watches have become more or less a voluntary addiction for him, resulting in a 20-something-strong watch collection spanning from the most revered independent pieces to the funkiest quartz numbers one can imagine. We took the chance to catch up with him and had a conversation on all things watches. And this, is Ed Scheckler's watch story. Paired with very nice pictures taken by our own Mario Cheung. Let's get right down to it.
ES = Ed Scheckler
JM: Ed, thank you for joining us today. Absolutely happy to have you here. I understand you're a huge watch lover. Yet I'd like to begin the conversation by understanding you as a person outside of your watch hobby. What do you do when you're not studying/ playing around with watches?
ES: Sure. I was always in technology and I studied engineering in university and got a PhD in semiconductor manufacturing from UC. I moved to Japan after grad school and kind of fell into information technology for the financial industry. I quite enjoyed the engineering elements of it, and of course it came with reasonable money. Since then I've worked for a couple of investment banks at their technology department and is now the global head of technology infrastructure for an investment bank.
JM: Great. So you're an IT person by day. How did you first get into watches? What was your first "good" watch?
ES: Sure. I've always had a Longines quartz watch. Very practical, very thin. But then one day it just sort of died and the date movement had a problem. I didn't think too much about it and actually stopped wearing a watch at all, for a while - I mean, you can always check your phone for time. And about 8 years ago when I first moved to Hong Kong, I was exposed really quickly to a lot of watches here. It was then I began to think about getting a good watch. And after some research I've set my eyes on a Jaeger-LeCoultre (JLC).
JM: Interesting. Why a JLC?
ES: I felt that they are affordable, with a whole range of offerings, good pedigree in watchmaking. At the end I bought a JLC Master Geographyic in stainless steel. It has a timezone setting function - perfect to wear when travelling. It's fantastic-looking and I'll never part way with it.
ES: I've had the good fortune to have my office in proximity with a number of well known auction houses. Because of that I went to check out auction previews from time to time and acquired a lot of knowledge that and made connections with the auction people, who are very professional and passionate about what they do - people who understand their clients' taste and preferences. I've since bought and sold a number of timepieces through auction houses.
Let's Talk F.P.Journe
ES: It's interesing. I'm actually not sure how I first heard about F.P.Journe first, but I did recall seeing a F.P.Journe Chronometrie Bleu sold at a New York auction house at a price that's basically the same as its retail price here in Hong Kong. I was like, "oh, here's a watch that didn't lose its value; let me go check out its boutque." It was literally before Christmas a few years back and the boutique happened to have a Chronometrie Bleu in stock. I loved it and if there ever is a thing called entry-level F.P.Journe, this is it. So I walked into the boutique one day, put my credit card on and brought it home.
ES: It's really about the accuracy of time keeping. About delivering the functionality with the minimum number of parts, while making the watch aesthetically beautiful at the same time. The quality of the constrution and the craftmanship of F.P.Journe really speak to me.
JM: Tell me about your other Journes?
ES: Shortly after, I acquired my second Journe, an Octa Reserve de Marche, in an auction and only after that I realized it came with a brass movement - a rare feature found only in 2,000 or so early Journes. I was very fortunate. Since then I've gone on to learn so much more about F.P.Journe (both the watchmaker himself and his products), by - surprisingly - Instagram! With the knowledge acquired, I purchased my third Journe, an Octa Automatique. And then an Calendrier in rose gold, a rather special iteration of that model. I feel that this is one of the best annual calendar watches ever made, even the F.P.Journe staff agreed when I sent it back for a service.
ES: This was actually owned by the friend of a collector friend of mine, who's more of a Lange guy. He did have a Journe that he left in the safety box for years, and it turned out to be a Black Label Resonance from 2007. Upon seeing it I was like, "I need to have that, but I'd need to save up a bit for it", so we made a deal and it was transferred to be at a very fair price. And when I was meeting Mr. F.P.Journe himself in the Dubai Watch Week not long ago, I was wearing this watch, and he approved!
On Vintage and "Fun" Pieces
ES: Sure. Here's a vintage Grand Seiko from 1964 I've bought from another auction, beating a guy who is now a friend of mine (laughters). As I mentioned I have lived in Japan for some years and have an affinity to watches with a Japanese connection. The watch is more than 50 years old and it still keeps perfect time and looks abolutely clean.
ES: This is actually a piece from the 90s, before the Royal Oak/ Royal Oak Offshore have really taken off. Back then AP was doing some really innovative things, such as this Star Wheel. It's a 36mm platinum piece with an uncommon way of telling time utilizing a set of "wheels". The funny thing is, this is one of the most popular watches on my Instagram account, which is pretty cool!
ES: Yes. I got it for a little over HKD3,000 at a no-reserve auction. To me it represents a piece of, albeit unfortunate, Swiss watchmaking history, when traditional Swiss watchmakers had to join forces to create a quartz wristwatch movement in response to the quartz crisis. They came up with the Beta-21, which is exactly what this Omega Electroquartz is powered by. It's quite a historically significant piece to own.
ES: It first started with the limited edition Dragon watch [the leftmost watch in the picture below] which I picked up at an Antiquorum auction. I didn't really know about this brand before, just thought it looked cool. But the I looked it up online and realized Alain is actually a Paris-based artist who did a lot of collaboration with brands etc. The thing is generally they don't attract a whole lot of attention in auctions so I managed to fetch them at reasonable prices and I'm now known as a bit of a Alain Silberstein lover. They make for really great weekend watches.
On Auction and "Grail"
ES: If possible, try to go to the auction previews and see the watches in person. Catalogues are great but they are not the same as seeing the watches in person. I've had experience when I thought I liked a watch from the catalogue but not quite so when I handled the watch in metal. And vice versa. Also, placing an absentee bid is a great way to set your budget, since you cannot overbid that way. BUT, the danger of that is your chances of actually landing the watch is lower. I have a friend who got outbid marginally for four times. Should he have been in the bidding room, he could have had better shot. And it's also a highly entertaining experience. The atmosphere, the tension, the sentiment. Everything.
JM: Last question of the day. If you are to trade your entire collection for one single watch. What would that be? What's your "grail"?
ES: That's a really hard question. Again, given my affinity for F.P.Journe watches, I'd love to have a really high end Journe with my name - not serial number, but my actual name - engraved on it. He does that for collectors who buy his special pieces such as the Sonnerie. The unique F.P. Journe tourbillon made for Only Watch 2015 would be another one too.
JM: Thank you Ed for your sharing!
ES: Thank you!