Clem Ho, from Canada, is an avid IWC collector who especially loves IWC Pilot’s Watches.
— Clem Ho, IWC collector
CH: CLEM HO
MF: MICHAEL FRIEDBERG, IWC FORUM EDITOR
MF: Clem, I always enjoy meeting IWC collectors throughout the world. Perhaps by way of introduction you can tell us a little bit about yourself.
CH: Not a whole lot is known about my family history. My family originates from Southern China. There’s been a bit of debate regarding when my grandparents immigrated to Malaysia, but my parents and their siblings all were born there. During the mid-70s my parents moved to Canada during the oil boom, where I was born and have been ever since.
MF: When did you start getting interested in watches?
CH: I don’t think there’s a specific moment but growing up I had always had a watch of some sort or another. The first watch I remember owning was when I was about 6 or 7. It was a digital watch that transformed into a robot. The “robot” would always fall off when I was playing. In retrospect, it was probably the first sign that I’m better suited to more “rugged” watches.
I got my first “fine” watch in my late teen years on a trip to visit family in Malaysia. That one I can likely attribute to my first push down the slippery slope.
MF: What about your introduction to IWC?
CH: The first time I had ever heard about IWC was through my future brother-in-law. He had, and still has, a Pilot’s Spitfire UTC 3251. He introduced me to the brand and we had some good talks about various models.
Sometime later, I acquired my first IWC, a 500901 Big Pilot. I was actually looking for another IWC. But Big Pilots were hard to come by due to their popularity and rarely held in stock very long, so it was a hard opportunity to pass up.
MF: I also know you’re a huge Safari fan. Perhaps you can tell us about that.
CH: The Safari (can we call it that?), the Tribute to 5002 as it were, I first stumbled upon with Chris Grainger-Herr’s 2017 post on Instagram. It was amazing to see what started off as a “bespoke one-off” for Chris then gain so much traction that it turned into a project which came to fruition.
— IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Tribute to 5002” (IW501007)
In my opinion, the Safari is THE BEST Big Pilot bar none. It’s my favorite watch. The light weight titanium case makes it extremely wearable. Aesthetically, I don’t know what’s not to love about the execution. The brushed dark grey of the titanium case, the matte black dial (with a 9), the monochrome power reserve sub dial, the bulb at the end of second hand, the black date wheel, no out of place and random shiny bits, and most importantly….the titanium FISH crown. A true tribute.
The only complaint about it was the strap which was easily rectified by calling my local AD and sourcing a buffalo strap from the 5002 model.
— IWC Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun (IW502902)
MF: I also first met you at SIHH, which I very much appreciated.
CH: 2019 was my first time at SIHH. This was a pretty epic trip for me being that I was able to check off so many bucket list items as a watch collector. I submitted my application after some prodding of some friends, and I never actually expected to get picked.
SIHH is of course is about the watches but this trip was so much more. People ask me what is most memorable about my trip and my first answer is “the People”. It was intimidating going and not knowing anyone, but everyone is so welcoming and makes you feel as if you were always part of the group.
What IWC does for us collectors at SIHH says so much about them and just fuels the enthusiasm for the brand. It’s amazing to meet the people who are responsible for the watches you love and have them genuinely interested in what you have to say.
One of my biggest highlights was getting the opportunity to meet Kurt Klaus, take a picture with him and have him autograph the manual for my 502902 Top Gun Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar. I’m not one to gush like a fan boy, but I’ll admit I did this time.
MF: Have you been to Schaffhausen?
CH: One of the unexpected things from my trip was a side visit to Schaffhausen. The new Manufakturzentrum is amazing. What’s great is that IWC allows its visitors to have hands on (and hands off) experiences in the different departments.
MF: One last question – What watch are you wearing today?
CH: It’s Flieger Friday: My 502902 Top Gun Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar.
— Kurt Klaus and Clem Ho
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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