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Watch collectors: A serial entrepreneur shares his soft spot for standout sporty timepieces

Zabriel Sim, founder of Standard Engineering shares about his collection.

Independent spirit

“I’ve always been in business and have started several over the years – and always with partners. It began in 2007 when I started an LED lighting business with my dad’s friend and another guy. In 2016, I finally started something on my own: Standard Engineering. It has a few subsidiaries that I share with partners but I’m the majority shareholder. A few years ago, I realised the business was doing well and that’s when I started getting into fine watches.”

Going strong

“The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph ‘Panda’ (pictured) was my first when I started collecting. It has been through a lot with me. I wear it to office meetings, to construction sites, at weekends and so on. It has fallen face down on tarmac ground before. I was putting a stroller into my car boot when it hit the watch clasp and came off. After that, aside from some dings that could not be polished away even after I sent it for servicing, it has worked just fine. Those dings? I don’t mind them at all as they are like battle scars that tell a story.”

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Etched in time

“My childhood friend Kelvin Leow is an award-winning tattoo artist who did Joseph Schooling’s Olympic rings tattoo. In 2015, we started The Standard Tattoo. He now runs his own studio called Tooth and Nail. I don’t have any tattoos myself, although I have come close to getting one on several occasions. My mum doesn’t like them [laughs]. The Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu Titanium White (pictured), made in collaboration with Swiss celebrity tattoo artist Maxime Plescia-Buchi, brings back many memories and symbolises my love for art and design. This is like my tattoo.”

Twice as nice

“When I visited Patek Philippe’s Watch Art Grand Exhibition here in 2019, I took just one photograph. It was of two Nautilus Chronograph Ref. 5980 watches, one in steel and rose gold and the other in full rose gold. I like the Ref. 5980 in steel and gold (pictured) because it’s the only two-tone watch in the current Patek Philippe collection and I’m a sucker for two- tone pieces. I also like its heft in comparison to other Nautilus models.”

Loud and proud

“I love sports, speed and cars. I am also into go-kart racing, so I generally like big and sporty watches as well as chronographs. But I also like bling and I have a few diamond watches. I’m definitely more hiao (Hokkien for vain) than my wife.”

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Highlights of my watch collection

  • Watch Collectors

    “IMPOSING" Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph Ref. 5980/1AR- 001 in steel and rose gold

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