Last May, The Peak ran a feature about how five Singaporeans had come together to create a trio of metiers d’art watches featuring enamelled dials. The project was spearheaded by Lim Yong Keong, founder of local watch brand Feynman Timekeepers, and also involved the talents of enamel artist Charlotte Hoe, leather artisan Ng Shuyi, Peranakan beadwork artist Raymond Wong and watchmaker Alvin Sim. The team made six pieces of each of three designs — Peony, Lotus and Peacock.
After reading this feature, watch enthusiast Melvin Lim was intrigued by their story and the efforts of this creative collective. He decided to add the Peacock model to his collection of timepieces, which includes exquisitely decorated models such as the Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Goldfish and the Patek Philippe World Time. Lim received his Feynman Coalesce “Peacock” watch last December, so we got him to share his opinion on his latest acquisition and how it stacks up against the metiers d’art creations by the biggest names in fine watchmaking.
Why I decided to buy the Feynman Coalesce “Peacock”:
“It’s a watch with plenty of craftsmanship as well as our local culture. It features elements of Peranakan culture, which is shown in the enamel work, as well as the beads on the leather strap.”
Why I chose the Peacock model:
“The other two designs (Peony and Lotus) are more colourful, so I was trying to decide which one I should get: Should I choose something with more colours, because more colours in an enamel piece usually requires more work? But when I looked at the Peacock dial, I realised that it had many subtle details. For example, the green elements feature a gradient of shades. The peacock is also a majestic animal, so I eventually went for it.”
Why I’m a fan of watches with artistic decoration:
I have the Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Goldfish (which features a Japanese urushi lacquered dial), and the Patek Philippe World Time and the Chopard L.U.C XOS 1860 Officer, which have very detailed guilloche designs. I like such timepieces because I can see the effort that goes into them. It’s also about preserving traditional arts and craftsmanship.
How the Feynman Coalesce stacks up:
“With the Chopard Urushi Goldfish, my expectations are higher because the dial decoration was done by a craftsman who creates lacquerware for the Japanese imperial family. The company, Yamada Heiando, has existed for more than 90 years. So, the level of craftsmanship is definitely higher.
“But what makes the Feynman Coalesce piece special is that you can clearly see the effort that goes into it, such as how the enamel artist sought to depict a peacock’s feathers through different shades of green. Also, this watch relates to Singaporean culture, while urushi is linked to Japanese tradition. This one touched my heart because of its connection to local culture.”
What else I like about this watch:
“The bracelet and the case are also special. I don’t have any watches with a strap like this, which must take a lot of work to make. Two people were involved in the making of the strap — one for the beading, and one for the strap. The strap in itself is already so well done; it’s very comfortable on the wrist and I love it. That said, I’m a bit scared to wear the beaded straps too much in case the beads get scratched, so I usually wear the non-beaded strap included with the watch (laughs).
“I’m also intrigued by its steel case. It looks rather rugged and sporty, especially with the crown that looks like a pilot’s watch crown. But although it contrasts with the classic dial design, they somehow complement each other.”
What would have made this watch even better:
“What I love about the watch is that it is the result of so many people’s efforts. I would have liked the team to have had a booklet or short write-up on the contributions of each person, and the challenges they encountered, so collectors can better understand and appreciate their work.
“That said, another nice touch is the two boxes that came with the watch. One of them features an illustration by a student from Pathlight School. It’s wonderfully done with great detail. The other one features a print of a Peranakan tile, which is where Yong Keong got the inspiration for the watches from. It’s quite clear that even the boxes must have been carefully chosen. I’ve told Yong Keong to keep me informed if they do more of such pieces.”