So it's the first week of this new feature, and damn did I feel like a creep. But I did get a few good pics, and hopefully my ability to sneak pictures on a moving train will only improve from here. Each week I take the direct train from Hung Hom to Guangzhou, and each week I see some amazing watches. After sitting next to a gentleman in a beautiful gold Rolex Cellini last week, I decided I needed to start photographing some of these watches for a new occasional feature. This is Stalking Watches.
After mentioning that I would be starting this feature, I got some negative feedback from a person on social media who implied that there couldn't be any genuine high quality watches on the wrists of people traveling by Chinese railway. Naturally that person made a lot of clueless assumptions, but for any of you who may be wondering this yourself, let me give you a bit of quick info. First of all, this train originates in Hong Kong. That's the key factor here. For anyone who doesn't happen to know, Hong Kong is a city obsessed with watches. According to these statistics, the city of 7 million purchases twice the percentage of global watch sales annually than the entire United States.
Omega Seamaster Professional 300M
From my observations, Rolex and Panerai seem to be some of the most popular watches in Hong Kong among the working middle class. You might be saying that $10,000 might not exactly seem like a "working middle class" price range for a watch, but for many in Hong Kong it is. Why is that? I can't say exactly, but I think it has something to do with living in such a dense city. Here in HK, many young professionals don't really have the opportunity to spend their savings on property, or have a need for cars. So the wrist has become one of the places to show an appreciation what your hard work can earn you.
Panerai Luminor GMT Automatic
Hong Kong has had a long time love affair with Rolex. In the 70's and 80's, a gold Rolex was a serious status symbol. Apparently the pronunciation of 金勞 (gold Rolex) sounds a lot like 襟勞, which means something like "will have work" (which could be understood to mean good fortune, or good luck). These sort of superstitious similarities in language are very common in Chinese culture. The number 8 is a very lucky number because its similarity to the word for "wealth" which is to be understood as lucky. To understand exactly how important these types of word-play are, consider that the Beijing Olympics started at 8:08pm and 8 seconds, on August 8th, 2008, or 8-8-08, 8:08:08pm. Fact.
It's interesting to see how the taste in Rolex models differs between generations. When I see a person in their 60's or 70's, it's usually a smaller Datejust with the fluted bezel, which makes me think of that Rolex love affair that started 30-40 years ago. They worked hard, saved, got their fancy Rolex, and it's been comfortably on their wrist ever since. Younger generations, however, and especially women, are definitely preferring larger and chunkier Rolex models, like the Explorer II on this woman below. (A personal opinion here...there is nothing sexier than a woman in a Submariner. Any model will do, but bonus sexy-points for a two tone steel and yellow gold :)
Rolex Explorer II
Seiko Automatic Diver's 200m
Very surprised to see this Sea-Gull Tourbillon (below) among the Swiss and Japanese masses. I was just contacted by Sea-Gull today and they're sending over something for me to review. Not sure what yet, but stay tuned to find out.
Sea-Gull 818.907 Tourbillon
For the record, and this probably won't happen again, I saw a gentleman in an A Lange & Sonhe Lange 1. I was actually polite and asked him if I could take a picture and he was NOT interested! I'll keep an eye out for him next week and hope he closes his eyes for a short nap.