Cover Austen Chu (Photo: Stephanie Teng)

The world of watch collecting can feel overwhelming to someone just entering, so expert watch collector Austen Chu starts with the basics on horology by introducing his journey

Throughout my life, I’ve come to realise that one of the only constants is that I always wear a watch. Fine watchmaking enables all of us to dream and emotionally fulfils watch enthusiasts, like myself.
I got into watches purely by accident. I was always fascinated by the concept of time—specifically how we humans govern our lives by hours and minutes.
Life as we know it wouldn’t exist without having a pragmatic way of telling time. How else would you know when, say, the next Air Jordan raffle is?

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Thanks to my mother and grandparents, who were both math professors, I learned how to tell the time at an early age. That, plus growing up in Shanghai, helped me live up to the Asian stereotype of knowing numbers before my ABCs.
My mother bought me my first watch, which was blue and made by Swiss children’s brand Flik Flak. Incidentally, it became my “safety blanket” at a young age, more so than any conventional toy or blanket.
I wouldn’t go anywhere without that blue Flik Flak strapped to my wrist, and such was the beginning of my love for horology.

That’s not to say I haven’t made mistakes along the way. When people first get into this hobby, a lot of them will go for what everyone else wants without properly evaluating all options in the same price category.
Mind you: There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting what everyone else has. After all, most in-demand pieces are in-demand for a very good reason.
But there are hundreds of sleeper models out there that can be more unique, special, and specific to the individual. Look under the radar!

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Although I do, sadly, believe most of us have to experience buyer’s remorse to really know which watches and brands are right for us. I personally wish I had traded more when I first started my collecting journey, because it would’ve honed my collecting philosophy a lot sooner.
So, when you’re starting out, remember to look at as many watches as possible, especially in person, before making a final decision. There are so many brands and models out there, including modern, neo-vintage, and vintage watches.
Without exposing yourself to the plethora of offerings available, how do you know what suits you best?

This is a monthly column from the mind of Austen Chu, watch collector and founder of pre-owned watch boutique WristCheck, who shares his insights and insider knowledge about horology.

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