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Watch collectors: Tan Yan Ling’s boundless love for limited editions

The private investor and collector of Patek Philippe limited-edition timepieces shares more about her horological passion.

Shared love

“My husband was the one who was into watches. Couples usually watch movies or go shopping, but I would accompany him to look at watches back when we were dating. The first watch he gave me was a Swatch and I remember thinking, ‘Huh, this guy is so funny, giving me a watch instead of flowers.’ For our 10th wedding anniversary in 2014, he got me the Patek Philippe World Time Moon Ref. 7175R, which was released to mark Patek Philippe’s 175th anniversary. This 450-piece limited edition got me interested in collecting rare timepieces.”

(Related: Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Offshore chronograph gets a (slightly) dressy update)

Global citizen

“My favourite complication is the world time because I travel a lot. I have three Patek Philippe World Time watches – the Ref. 7175R, and the Ref. 5131 in rose gold and white gold. For Chinese entrepreneurs, having a world map or globe in your office is believed to bring good luck, so I like having a world map on my wrist.” (Editor’s note: World-time watches usually feature a world map on their dials.)

Milestone marker

“The newest addition to my collection is the Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 6007A, which commemorates the completion of Patek’s new production building. Things moved very fast with this model – nobody knew about it until it was launched in June. My AD (authorised dealer) asked if I was interested and I said yes, especially after I heard that there were only 1,000 pieces. I got the watch within two weeks.”

(Related: H. Moser and MB&F has each created a timepiece in the style of the other)

DIY culture

“Although I have more than 60 watches, I don’t use a watch winder. Every two weeks, I wind and clean about 20 of them. This takes me over an hour. I’ve chipped my fingernails several times. (Laughs) Also, I’m very particular about having the correct settings. It’s not straightforward because watches are set differently, especially when they have additional functions such as a perpetual calendar or world time. I’ve learnt a lot about how to set watches and take care of them from the people at the Patek Philippe Service Centre.”

Next generation

“For about two years now, I’ve taken time off work to spend time with my 13-year-old daughter. The Patek slogan, about how you keep a watch for the next generation, really resonates with me. I’m more into watches now compared to my husband and he’s happy about that. Also, he knows that the ones I buy will eventually go to our daughter – and she is his soft spot. So, he will never stop me from buying watches.”

Watches that best represent my collection

  • Tan Yan Ling Patek Phillipe

    “World-ready” – Patek Philippe World Time Moon Ref. 7175R in rose gold

(Related: New watches in the Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Memovox line)

Photography: Phyllicia Wang 

Art Direction: Fazlie Hashim