DOMINIC LIEW, 26
For Dominic Liew, the first thing he looks for in a watch is its soul, and it is the magic beyond its turning wheels that invariably captures his interest. “To me, mechanical watchmaking is so much more than about telling time. It is an art form practised by skilled artisans, and each piece contains the soul and the passion of these watchmakers,” he explains.
The young doctor, who has acquired slightly more than 20 pieces, has certainly come a long way from his Casio Baby-G and G-Shock childhood days. After his first serious watch purchase — a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner — Liew has grown partial to independent brands like MB&F.
He says, “I guess my taste has evolved from classic and conventional time-tellers, to more quirky and unique wearable mechanical art. For some reason I’ve always loved telling time. Counting down the seconds till the minute hand moved seemed to fascinate me as a kid, so I guess it just progressed from there.”
What makes something desirable to him then? Liew muses, “I’ve always wanted watches that speak to me, either through what the watchmaker stands for, or via the story behind their creations. Some independent watchmakers, in particular, put so much time and touch into their pieces that you could say a part of them goes into each watch that they make. That’s really valuable to me.”
What characteristics do you look out for when you purchase a timepiece?
Several things. I have to find it aesthetically appealing, not just in that moment, but over a really long time, as I intend to wear it for many years to come. Secondly, its creation should serve a purpose, whether it’s to solve an existing watchmaking problem, improve on a current solution, or simply to tell a story. I also really like numbered limited editions.
What is your favourite watch complication?
It has got to be the perpetual calendar. Having a timepiece be able to “know” the different lengths of each month, even in leap years, through the interaction of levers and wheels, is simply fascinating to me.
The nerdiest thing you’re willing to admit about your watch collecting journey?
I spend an inordinate amount of time reading reports and articles on watches, and at my favourite watch retailer chatting with the staff and catching glimpses of the new releases that come in!
MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual
This was my graduation gift from my mother. It’s a limited edition of 25 pieces, and this one is numbered 22 after my birthday in February. I had Maximilian Büsser [the CEO and founder of the brand] make me a strap in white with purple stitching to complement the dial of the watch. It feels as if it has a life of its own, with a mechanical brain of sorts. From what I understand, most perpetual calendars are easily damaged because they need to jump across three days from February 28 to March 1, but this one uses a default month length of 28 days to circumvent this issue.
MB&F Legacy Machine No. 1 Silberstein
This one spoke to my profession a little, with an inscription quoting French novelist Gustave Flaubert, loosely translated to, “Making a profession of your passion is true happiness.” It has a vertical power reserve that elevates when you wind it. I didn’t get the normal LM1 because it was too classic for my taste. I picked this one because it looked more funky.
Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Edition Spéciale
This was my first watch from a smaller, independent artisanal brand. When you first take the leap from larger brands to independent ones, you don’t want to spend so much, because you don’t know what you’re getting into. The risk factor also increases as the price goes up. What I liked about this watch was that it was a limited edition of only 60 pieces, had an in- house movement, and was worn by the founder of the brand himself – this indirectly told me a lot about the watch. It also has a dial with a grille design which isn’t just unusual, but also makes it very visually interesting.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona
This one’s a gift from my dad, who is a very practical man. It is significant to me as it is one of the very few things he has bought for me. For him, a watch is simply for telling time, just like how clothes are merely functional articles. The watch really appeals to me design-wise too, and I wear and absolutely love it as an everyday watch.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner
My first serious watch still looks very new because I don’t wear it all that much. It’s a transitional model which was only made for a short period of time. I’d say I prefer the bracelet in the newer Submariners because they’re more robust. I guess that’s the thing with Rolex – they’re always improving their watches!
Art direction: Clementinus Liem
Photography: Simon Sim
Makeup Keith Bryant Lee using Lancome
Hair: Edward Chong using Kevin Murphy
Location: The Grande Whisky Collection
A version of this story first appeared in Adore 2019 Magazine, now out in leading bookstores and on Magzter.