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This materials engineer watches out for substance in her timepieces

Whether it's precious metals or technical feats, collector Sharon Tan favours watches with horological heft.

HOROLOGICAL ART

“In 2012, Cartier held its Time Art exhibition at the ArtScience Museum, and it had a huge impact on me. I loved the mystery clocks in particular because they are beautiful, and their engineering and design (featuring seemingly floating hands) are ingenious. After the exhibition, I became very interested in Cartier. I wanted a watch that wasn’t too sporty or dressy and would fit my small wrist nicely. That’s how I got my first serious watch, the Cartier Santos 100 (pictured, left).”

ANTI-MAGNETIC CHARM

“My vintage IWC Ingenieur 3508 (pictured) from the ’80s is my daily beater. This is the earliest high-rating, anti-magnetic watch, and it can resist magnetic fields of up to 500,000 A/m (6,250 Gauss). It was an engineering marvel but a commercial flop. Instead of using a soft-iron cage to protect the movement – like most anti-magnetic watches in the past had – IWC switched out the ferrous materials in an ETA movement for non-ferrous ones. It also used nickel-based alloy components and the original steel rotor was changed to one made from 21K gold. This is not well-known because it’s all hidden in the case.”

(Related: #WatchYaGot: How I got my steel Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A-014 with green dial)

GOLD STANDARD

“My first precious metal watch was a vintage gold Grand Seiko from the ’70s (pictured), which I got a few years back. I didn’t buy it at first sight and then I dreamt about it being sold three days later. I woke up with this sense of worry and regret [laughs]. That was a clear sign that I had to get it. After I bought it, I did some research and found out that the little indentations on the case were made with a dental drill. This is unique because most similar-looking finishes are hammered or cast. After you get a gold watch, there’s no going back – steel watches start to feel like toys.”

TIME TOGETHER

“My boyfriend is a Rolex fanboy. To mark our first anniversary together, we got a pair of Tudor Black Bay watches – a 36mm black dial for him and a 31mm blue dial for me. We were pretty lucky for our second anniversary this year. I managed to get a Rolex Oyster Perpetual (OP) 31mm with the turquoise dial, while he got a 36mm OP model with a bright blue dial.”

(Related: Eco-friendly watches take the stage)

A LOVE FOR LANGE

“At some point, I was convinced that A. Lange & Sohne makes the best watches. My Lange 1 in yellow gold (pictured) is one of the earlier references and features an older movement. My new grail is the Little Lange 1 Moon Phase that was launched this year. Besides being beautiful, I like its size. Just perfect for me. It’s well-executed, and I love that the date wheel is dark blue. I’m definitely going to get it – it’s just a matter of when.”

WATCHES THAT BEST REPRESENT MY COLLECTION

  • Luxury Watches

    “GRAIL”

    A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 in yellow gold.

(Related: IWC and Mercedes-AMG unveil their latest collaborative timepiece)