The managing director of Cortina Watch Malaysia gives his input on making the right investment to kick off your watch collection

Buying your first luxury watch can be an intimidating affair. Not sure whether to choose a Rolex or a Patek Philippe for your first luxury watch? Perhaps you're toying with the idea of making your first investment a highly artisanal piece from an independent watchmaker? And where do you go to get the right information? Here's what Tay Liam Khoon, an industry veteran of more than 20 years, has to say:

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Tay Liam Khoon (Photo: Cortina Watch)
Above Tay Liam Khoon (Photo: Cortina Watch)

Do you remember the first luxury watch that you bought?

It was a Seiko watch, if I’m not mistaken. It is not a luxury watch, but I remember buying it with my first pay cheque during a school holiday.

Why did you purchase that watch?

At the time, it was due to the aesthetic of the watch. It was a fairly trendy style and had a look that suited what I was looking for. It was also one of the watches I was able to afford at the time.

Brand name, design and emotional connection—which is the most important factor during the decision-making process?

I personally feel that emotional connection should drive a person’s decision when it comes to anything. Although rational thinking should come into play, without an interest or any sort of emotional feeling towards an item, one would not and should not make a hasty decision on a purchase of such large amount of money. One should always have an emotional connection to a brand’s design and style.

How much research should one do beforehand? Or should it be a more spontaneous thing?

Watches are forever, or at least, the majority of them in the market are. We keep them for as long as we can, and even pass them down to the next generation. The only spontaneous thought should be the thought of wanting to purchase a watch, but after that, do some research before making the actual purchase.

In terms of how much research one should do, it's the same as booking a trip or buying a car. Whether it's your first time or 10th time purchasing a luxury watch, one should always do enough research to discover our likes and dislikes, and check out all that is available in the market.

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Photo: Cortina Watch
Above Photo: Cortina Watch

Where should one go to learn about watches?

Thanks to the world we live in today, there are so many sources to get any information we need. The same goes for watches. Depending on the learning style of an individual, they could head over to one of our stores and chat with our dedicated sales consultants. They could also call or email us.

Speaking with a watch enthusiast and a collector goes a long way too. And of course, searching on the internet. The most comprehensive information can always be found on the brand page itself. You can also check out Cortina's website for news updates and features. Personal blogs are filled with information as well, though we really have to be careful as there is too much information on the web, and it may be hard to tell which is legitimate.

I personally feel that the best way to get information on watches is to visit our stores and enquire within.

Why is that? 

I generally feel it is a better source of information that way. Often, too much information is not good either. We are unable to process them fully and it is also hard to separate the facts from personal opinions. That is the case when one searches for information online.

Our boutique sales consultants are all well-trained in all the brands that we carry in-store and more; some are even ambassadors to dedicated brands. We have regular training sessions from the brands themselves as well. The difference between retailers and monobrand stores is that we are able to give you as much information as you need about the different types and brands of watches. Visiting the boutique also allows you to try the watch and find out how it feels on your wrist, which is a very important aspect of the process.

Often it’s intimidating for a newcomer in the watch collecting scene to step into a boutique. How does Cortina make it a more comfortable space to discover watches?

The whole step is important. From the research one does on our website to the appearance of the boutique in particular the storefront and the welcoming service. Most importantly, the boutique sales consultants have to be friendly and welcoming throughout the whole customer journey.

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Patek Philippe Calatrava 5196G (Photo: Patek Philippe)
Above Patek Philippe Calatrava 5196G (Photo: Patek Philippe)
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Patek Philippe Calatrava Weekly Calendar 5212A
Above Patek Philippe Calatrava Weekly Calendar 5212A

Which would you recommend for a first luxury watch?

It really depends on the style and budget of the individual. Sometimes, the most basic things in life are the most beautiful. For those looking at an everyday watch, I would recommend the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5196G. This piece draws the most inspiration from the original Ref. 96 and is available in white gold, rose gold and yellow gold. It is presented in a 37mm case that exudes the sort of understated elegance the Swiss manufacture is well-known for.

Another piece I would recommend is the Patek Philippe Calatrava Weekly Calendar 5212A. It is no secret that steel watches are extremely popular, and this piece adds to that frenzy. The watch presents a new complication with a new case and dial, which provides a youthful and fun look.

See also: The Irresistible Beauty Of Rare Handcrafts, According To Patek Philippe

For more information, visit Cortina Watch Malaysia's official website.

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