Vincent is a passionate IWC collector from Malaysia. In this interview we learn more about Vincent, his passion about architecture and watches.
VF: VINCENT FONG
MF: MICHAEL FRIEDBERG, IWC FORUM EDITOR
MF: Vincent, thanks for joining us. It’s always interesting to learn about collectors worldwide.
VF: Thanks. I was born and raised in a small, quiet town in Malaysia. My family, carpenters and builders, taught me the importance of good craftsmanship. My mom, a retired nurse, instilled in me responsibilities towards the environment and the community. They very much influenced my choice of profession.
MF: I understand that profession is urban planning.
VF: I graduated from architecture school in 2003, and completed my training in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. My office then landed a project in the United Arab Emirates about 12 years ago, and I’ve been here ever since.
I’m now an Urban Designer for the city of Abu Dhabi. It’s an honor and a privilege to be given the opportunity to be part of the city's future and the opportunity to learn from multidisciplinary teams from the entire world.
Of course, all this would not have been possible if not for my supportive wife, Virginia Lim. Her brilliance is playing a pivotal role in the education sector here in the UAE. Oh, and Virginia has her own set of IWC collection too – we are an IWC collecting family!
MF: You’re an architect by training – just like IWC’s CEO. Does this attract you to IWC watches?
VF: Totally. Just like architecture, the idea of form follows function is a basic principle in creating many IWC timepieces. An IWC watch has clean-lines, great proportions, efficient use of space that creates lasting impressions. These are the same qualities for great contemporary architecture.
Watchmaking and architecture share the same philosophy of combining art and engineering in a neat package. Philosophically, architects always strive to design spaces that will create a sense of belonging, genius loci (spirit of place).
MF: Speaking of places, have you seen the new IWC manufacturing facility?
VF: Not yet. I hope to one day visit there: it’s a perfect example of a contemporary, high-tech and sustainable architecture enhancing a traditional trade.
MF: Living in Abu Dhabi still must be exciting with its architecture. But what’s the watch scene like?
VF: It’s quite vibrant. There are many collectors here with an appetite for fine timepieces. There’s the opportunity to see many rare and limited editions.
IWC’s presence here is good and the local team here have been kind enough to invite me to many events over the years. Watchmaking classes and meetings with Kurt Klaus allow us to understand the passion and dynamics in creating these timepieces. I’m going out on a limb to say that Kurt Klaus’ story-telling skills are as good as his watch-making skills.
MF: How did you first learn of IWC?
VF: I can’t pinpoint the exact moment, but what made me pay extra attention to the brand was an Internet article about pilot watches during the launch of SIHH 2012. IWC’s booth with the flight simulator, the setup and the product line was impressive. This was followed by a visit to the local boutique to find out more. The rest as they say, is history.
MF: What was your first IWC watch?
VF: The Portofino 8-days IW510103.
I was particularly interested then in the history of watches, including the transition of pocket watches to wrist watches. This model maintains that pocket watch quality with its aesthetics and hand-wound mechanism. The 8-day power reserve is perfect as a daily watch, which still remains as part of my daily rotation.
MF: Since then how has your collection grown?
VF: I next sought out an older 2008 Portofino Moon-Phase Vintage Collection (IW544801), which quenched my thirst for hand-wound watches.
I then moved on to the Portuguese collection and picked up the blue-hand, silver dial Portuguese Automatic (IW500107). In my opinion, the Portuguese Automatic has the best proportions in design, case size and overall comfort.
My craze for IWC continues with the Pilot watches. Like a moth to a flame, I finally picked up my first Big Pilot’s Watch (IW500901), which gets the most wrist-time and has been with me in most of my travels.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I came across the Big Pilot’s Watch Le Petite Prince Edition (IW500908). I was mesmerized by the blue dial, indices and hands. I believe it’s the most beautiful Big Pilot’s watch to date.
IWC’s 150th anniversary further expanded with the exquisite lacquer dials, which need to be seen in person to understand their qualities. I also took home the Big Pilot’s Watch Big Date Edition “150 years” with white lacquer dial (IW510504).
MF: When you buy a watch, is there something particular you look for?
VF: Simplicity. The way I look at timepieces is the same way I look at architecture; less is more. Complications are great, and I truly admire the engineering that goes into those, and somehow IWC managed to put them all in a simple package. What I truly admire about IWC is the sophistication behind the simple dial. But also a watch needs to be comfortable daily. And it has to make me happy, too, of course.
MF: Good advice! Thanks.
Michael Friedberg has been collecting watches, especially IWCs, for more than three decades. From 2001 through 2015 he was moderator of the IWC Collectors’ Forum and has written extensively about IWC’s history and technical features.
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