the best watch story!
It was 14:26:58, February 3, 1980 when my father heard my first cry. According to my dad, he was concentrating on his Shanghai A581 wristwatch and recorded the exact moment I was born. My father was a watch enthusiast and under his shadow I have been a hug fan of watches since childhood.
The Shanghai A581 was the fist serial of wristwatches that China made under the summon of the first prime minister of P.R. of China, Zhou Enlai, in 1951.
According to historians, Chinese were the first to invent clocks. The history of horology in China dates back to 1088 when Su Song and Han Gonglian, the scientists of Song Dynasty, created a water-driven astronomical clock that was more than thirty feet high. The Orientals therefore firmly believe that it was China who made history in the first chapter of watch making, and not the occidental world that penetrated in China with their horologe instruments much later.
To revive Chinese watch making industry, Premier Zhou called on watchmaking masters to research and create wristwatches. 5 Years later, the Shanghai A581 serial of watches were born. Premier Zhou had been wearing one of them until his last breath in January 1976.
Shanghai A586 has been a legendary in Chinese watch making history. My dad inherited one from my grand father on his 18th birthday when a Shanghai A586 would cost 120 Chinese Yuan, almost 6 month's salary of a middleclass in 1970s. A watch, rather than an engagement diamond ring was widely thought to be a must have betrothal gift.
Nowadays, Shanghai A586 watches are collectable vintage watches quoted at $5,000 to $10,000 by watch collectors. My father passed the Shanghai A586 to me in 1989. I treasured it as a precious antique bacuse I believe that every single scratch on it recorded a piece of memory about my father and my grandfather.
In 1997, I graduated from the elementary school. My dad bought me a lovely watch, a black and white steel Titoni. My father told me it was "Swiss made". Honestly I had no idea of "Swiss made" at the age of 11.
I asked my dad why it was not "Chinese made" since Titoni's Chinese name is "Mei Hua", a very popular flower in China signifying determination and perseverance. My father simply answered me, "well, the Swiss are good at watch making". I doubted. "Aren't Chinese the ones who invented watches?"
I didn't argue with him about Chinese made or Swiss made, however, the Titoni accompanied me during my whole youth. I loved that Titoni and I was admired by my classmates. It told me when to get up in the early morning, when to take classes at school and when to get back home later in the afternoon; furthermore, it reminded me of my favorite cartoon shows, my favorite basketball game series, and my first dates with girls.
Kevin's Omega chronometer was a celebration gift for his university admission in 1997
At an age of seventeen, I was admitted into a top university, but it was far way from my hometown. when I was leaving home my Father lifted my wrist up and said, "Your Titoni is too old and small for a man." Then he gave me a new box. I opened it. A stylish Omega lay before my eyes. "You worked hard to get in a top university and you grew up, now you deserve a better watch." I was moved to tears, but I was so attached to the Titoni that I couldn't get it off my wrist right away. I wasn't good at English names, and Omega's Chinese name "Oh Mi Jia" looked weird and strange to me.
"What does Oh Mi Jia mean, exactly?" I asked my Father. "I don't know either, but it's one of top brands worldwide." He responded,
Since then the "top brands worldwide" has been deeply rooted in my mind. I have an abiding love for wristwatches. During my childhood, the top brand in my mind was my dad's Shanghai A586. Later on my top brand was my Titoni, and then my top brand was Omega during my university life.
Unfortunately, during my sophomore year, I lost my Omega at a summer camp. I didn't tell my father since I felt humiliated and did not want to ask for another watch from my dad at the age of 19.
I decided to work hard to earn a watch myself. Over the whole summer I felt like my arm was missing a vital piece. Thousands of times, I couldn't help raising my left hand to read the time, but there was no watch on my wrist, only the slight watch print caused by wearing Titoni and Omega for years!
Kevin bought his first luxruy watch - Roles Sea Dweller on January 1st, 2002
There was a popular Chinese saying that "The poor play cars while the rich play watches." Normally watches are just optional items after one owns a house and a car. However, I was so obsessed with watches that I put a elegant watch as my first priority despite that I was a poor young man who just went out of campus.
On January 1st, 2002, the day I got my annual bonus after one year of hard work, I bought myself a Rolex Oyster, "I finally own the best watch brand in the world!" A proud voice rang in my head. As most people did, I knew no luxury brands beyond Rolex.
In 2006 I moved to USA for my business. Later on I enrolled in a MBA program at a business school in California. On a birthday of my classmate Allen, he showed me an exciting present, a wristwatch from his grandfather. It was a beautifully crafted skeletonized watch where, under the transparent sapphire dial, I clearly saw every single moving mechanic part. I was astonished with such a piece of art but I couldn't name the watch.
"What brand is it?"
Allen put the watch under a magnifying glass and pointed to a line of tiny letters under a Maltese cross, spelled and pronounced: "Vaucheron Constantin".
"How great is this brand compared to Rolex?" I realized it might be a silly question one second after I asked. Allen smiled and said: "they are not in the same league."
I could not help being enthusiastic about luxury watches since then. Allen's grandfather was once a master watchmaker in Switzerland. Besides his wide collection of precious vintage timepieces from such prestigious brands as Patek Philippe, A.Lange&Sohne, Vacheron Constantin, Breguet and Ulysse Nardin, he had a profound knowledge about history and craftsmanship behind those legendary brands.
During the last 4 years, anything about wristwatches has been my favorite and foremost diversion. Talking, appreciating, buying and showing quality watches have become my daily activities. Naturally, I enthusiastically looked to brand rankings to see what other people think the top brands are, but ranking remains one of the most controversial topics in the watch making industry.
Allen and I researched the available news and magazines in English, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, German, French and Italian but failed to find a persuasive ranking with an objective methodology. There are long debates around luxury watches ranking, however, 5 outstanding issues concerning ranking remain:
1) Most rankings are limited to top 10, however there are more than 1,000 so-called luxury watch brands
2) Rankings in different regions/languages are tremendously different
3) Most rankings are purely subjective without any supporting data
4) Most rankings are too old to reflect the current watch making industry
5) There's no systematic ranking methodology, no common metrics are proposed
On the other hand, according to our survey on above 6,000 watch buyers, collectors and enthusiasts, there's an urgent demand for a universal, authoritative and systematic ranking:
1) 85% of watch buyers show interests in and care about watches brand ranking
2) 99% of watch buyers don't know how to choose a luxury brand tier even with a clear budget in their minds
3) 95% of watch buyers think that Rolex is the best luxury brand worldwide, but being the most popular is not necessarily equivalent to being the best.
4) 99% of people in our survey express intrests in knowing more details about average price, art & craftmanship, investment value, reliability and popularity of each brand
Therefore, driven by an enthusiasm on watches since childhood, I have proposed the PARIS ranking methodology. PARIS is to cover the most important dimensions of each luxury brand. Price, Art, Reliability, Investment value and Search engine citation.
In a nutshell, the definions of each dimension are below.
* Price is the luxury indicator of a watch brand. It is calculated from Weighted Average Price (WAP) of all serial of watches produced by a brand. * Art & craftsmanship is the aesthetic indicator of a watch brand. It is derived from peer review scores of a brand rated by executives from other brand or manufactures. * Reliability is an indicator of overall customer experience from a brand. It is a combined score graded by watch owners in terms of accuracy, customer services, and buyer's loyalty. * Investment value is derived from annual price depreciation /appreciation and the annual production volume from a brand. * Search engine citation is to gauge the popularity or recognition of a watch brand. It's calculated from the number of articles or reviews about a specific brand indexed by major internet search engines such as Google, Bing, Etc. in different regions and language.
Scores for each dimension are weighted to arrive at a final overall score ? the PARIS Index , named after the 5 initials of each indicator.