Entrepreneur Shaun Djie is drawn to designs that endure, whether vintage or modern.
by Lynette Koh / March 30, 2022
“I first got into watches 10 years ago, when my dad got me my first automatic timepiece for my 21st birthday. He had an Omega catalogue because he likes the brand, and asked if I wanted anything from it. I chose a grey dial Seamaster Aqua Terra.
“When I started collecting watches, I bought mostly second-hand pieces online or from other collectors. At the beginning, it was about the price as well as the availability of certain watches. In 2017, however, I started collecting vintage pieces, and buying pre-owned watches from Heirloom Gallery. The owner, who is now a friend, has a large private Cartier collection.
“Last October, on the day I was scheduled to fly to Germany to meet my girlfriend, who works in the UK, he called me to come by his store. He showed me a 2004 Cartier Tank Cintrée (pictured) from the CPCP (Cartier Paris Collection Privée) collection, and I told him, ‘Wow, I would have bought it even if you had just shown me a photo.’”
“Some of my friends tell me that my collection, which includes vintage and modern pieces, is pretty classical. Lately, though, I’ve been gravitating towards independent labels like De Bethune and MB&F. The De Bethune DB27, which I got last August, was my first watch by a big independent. I like the brand’s timeless yet modern design philosophy, including elements such as its iconic floating lugs and signature blue titanium dial. Some of De Bethune’s other pieces have a more sci-fi feel, but I find them a bit much.”
Tech and treks:
“Audemars Piguet is special to me because the first watch that I bought in 2017 with cryptocurrency was a Royal Oak 15400. Having worked in finance, the owner agreed to accept half the payment in bitcoins and the other half in Singapore dollars. Bitcoin’s value has gone up a lot since then. (Laughs.)
“I also have a set of Audemars Piguet’s ‘Time for the Trees Foundation’ limited-edition watches, including a yellow gold one from 2000 (pictured). I like trekking and the outdoors, so having timepieces that combine nature and horology means a lot to me.”
Work of art (and love):
“For my 30th birthday last year, my girlfriend drew me the Patek Philippe Nautilus Moon Phase Ref. 5712/1A. Although she’s not trained in art, it was well-executed. I bought the watch in steel last year and told her how much I liked it. It took her a couple of months to complete the A3-size drawing. After giving it to me, she said, ‘You can’t change your grails so often, because I can’t keep drawing new watches’.”