Throwback! For the next couple of articles, we're going to revisit some very cool sit-downs we had with fellow horological enthusiasts and delve into their incredible collections. First, we have Australia's very own Andy Zhang, also known as @a_zhangerator.
First off, let’s officially introduce @a_zhangerator as Haulogerie’s very first interviewee. Thanks for doing this. Before we get into it, can you tell me a bit about yourself?
Name: Andy Zhang
Age: Under 30
Occupation: Director of his family business
Passions/Hobbies: Gym, cigars, whisky, fashion and of course watches!
Marital status: Happily married and blessed with two boys
Okay, now a question many of us want to know: how did you get into collecting watches?
Well it’s funny because when I was young I always wore a watch from brands like Adidas to Swatch and to Casios. However, the first serious watch I owned was actually an Omega Seamaster 007 Quantum of Solace as gift from my Dad when I started my degree at Imperial College London.
This inspired me to expand my collection, however being a student obviously money can be quite tight. After I started my career, I finally got the opportunity to buy my own watch. I bought the IWC Ceramic Perpetual Calendar, which was my first pick, and I literally slept with it on every day for about 6 months!
@a_zhangerator has a penchant for some super high end pieces. At Haulogerie we absolutely love your collection. We think it’s one of the most dynamic and most intriguing. Tell me a bit about the pieces you’ve brought here today.
Well I only brought three pieces today. The Richard Mille RM3501, The Richard Mille RM11-03 in titanium and the Patek Philippe 5524G. RM3501 is one of the most iconic models in the Richard Mille collection, and it’s the first model to use an NTPT case. Aside from that, it’s just a really cool and good-looking watch. Or as you might say, a beast! This model got me into the world of Richard Mille and completely changed my view about the brand.
The Richard Mille RM11-03 titanium is a fresh new model, hot as f**k, with a ridiculously cool design. After owning Richard Mille’s signature NTPT piece, I wanted to trace back to its initial famous material, which is titanium. They use this material in a different way and bring extremely stunning tonneau shaped cases to the industry.
And the Patek Philippe 5524G. Yes, I got tons of “WTH/WTF/HOLYSHIT” when I purchased this watch. But man, I love it. It has a unique design and some sexy hour pushers on the left. It’s one of the best designed modern Pateks and has an extremely easy-to-use travel time function. Frankly speaking, it has a longer wait list than the infamous Nautilus 5711 and it’s almost impossible to acquire if you haven’t bought any Pateks before from an authorized dealer.
And any watches you haven’t brought today?
Well quite a few like my Richard Mille RM010, my A. Lange & Söhne Datograph, my Omega Seamaster, a Vacheron Constantin Patrimony, an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore as well as one of your favourite watches, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked.
What is your favourite piece out of your current collection?
I would say it’s the Richard Mille RM35-1 and my new Patek Philippe 5524G. For now!
And what’s next?
Well I’m hoping to get a re-designed Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept. Or maybe just another Richard Mille!
Now often in horology we speak of “grails”. Those super high-end pieces that we think about day in and day out. What is your grail?
That’s a great question. I have quite a different interpretation of grails. My grail has to be wearable and even if I wear it, I want to be 100% confident of its durability and not worry worry about scratching or damaging it. And to be honest, my grail list always changes too. My current grail is the Richard Mille RM-069 Erotic Tourbillon. Or the Richard Mille RM-027
It seems as though you’ve taken a huge liking towards Richard Mille. Can you tell us how that came about?
That’s a very interesting, as many of my friends know me as a traditional and conservative collector. I did a lot of research about this brand (thanks to the thousands of coffee-fueled meet-ups with my collector friends and industry friends). I found that Richard Mille was not a traditional brand at all. I prefer to look at it like a scientific high-end luxury brand. The way the brand is lead is so unique in that it really can’t be copied. They’ve got a very wide product line with a watch specific to every single customer base. They hire staff not only from within the watch industry, but also from various scientific areas. Their R&D team spend hundreds of hours designing even the simplest of things, such as the watch strap. Insane! I liken Richard Mille to that of a pioneer – someone who is brave enough to utilise unique materials and designs, and integrate them into a very conservative and traditional market.
They’re the first to use sapphire, the first to use NTPT carbon cases, the first to create cool and colourful straps, and the first to “abuse” a tourbillon! They lead the marketing side of the industry, and the more I find out about the brand the more I fall in love with the company. They’re fascinating, and more importantly it brings back my passion and excitement about watches, even after experiencing so many other brands.
I was lucky enough to attend the Richard Mille Chantilly event in Paris a few months ago in September. It was such a cool experience, and definitely one of the best collector experiences I’ve ever been to.
And any new Richard Milles coming in?
I’m going to keep that as a secret, but I shall see a new Richard Mille being added to my collection in 2018.
So you’ve obviously got a love for (brands presented – eg Mille, Lange). Any brands you stay away from?
For now I stay away from Richemont brands (except Lange and Panerai), as I have no idea what they’re doing these days to be honest..
You’ve built a very impressive collection of some very beautiful watches. An advice for our would-be collectors out there?
I’m just sharing my humble personal watch-collecting journey here. I say follow your heart. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Casio or a Patek. Every piece you love is a grail. Moreover, never sell any watch that was gifted to you by your parents. They are very sentimental pieces. Also, buy into the brand, not the watch. That’s another big thing people seem to miss. And definitely don’t buy into the whole “celebrity endorsed craze”. Look at the historic moments the brand as brought into the whole horological industry. Fall in love with the brand.
Awesome, thanks for your time Andy, and happy collecting!