Text: Lunglung Thun

Valentine’s Day is the most underrated celebration in my opinion. Many say its too commercialized and unnecessary but the romantic in me loves everything about it, the excessiveness of reminding each other through words, gifts, grand gestures, and the necessity of pausing our busy lives to tell each other how much we care.

Photo: Tom Chng (@singaporewatchclub) & Hosanna Swee (@hforhozzie)

With Valentine’s Day having just passed, I decided to dedicate a piece to this dynamic duo in Singapore that I met through watches. They too bonded over watches, and they remind me of how magical this hobby can be. 

If you don’t already know, Tom Chng (@singaporewatchclub) is a well respected watch collector in Singapore who started Singapore Watch Club. Hosanna Swee (@hforhozzie) is Singapore’s Leica ambassador and has a killer watch collection herself. 

Q1: Tom mentioned that he saw your watch before he saw your face, do you recall what you were wearing, and what did you notice about Tom first?

Hosanna: We met on a dating app. Strangely, most of my photos had my face cropped, to focus more on my outfits. But I guess, the classic Royal Oak Ref. 15300 on my wrist caught his eyes! Tom would claim it was love at first sight, but I would beg to differ. He never went out of his way to impress me since the beginning. However with time, I felt at peace with him, and his patience and sincerity gradually won me over.

Q2: Many guys would love for their partners to appreciate watches too, what other hobbies do you guys share together or would like to try together?

Tom: I really enjoy traveling with Hosanna and documenting our precious memories has been something that draws us closer together. I’d love us to explore other genres of art and culture outside of horology, that will open our eyes to more nuances of beauty and perspectives that can expand our world view.

Hosanna: Apart from our mutual appreciation for watches, our shared enthusiasm for photography and storytelling brings us together, and we’ve always relished nurturing this shared passion during our leisure hours. Although the excitement and occasional pressure sometimes cause tension, it ultimately strengthens our bond. I frequently remind myself that having such overlapping interests is a rare opportunity for couples, and it’s something I deeply value and appreciate.

Q3: What was it about Ulysse Nardin that drew you in to finally decide on that brand as a proposal piece?

Tom: The Ulysse Nardin Classico with a grand feu enamel dial was the first limited edition collaboration project for the Singapore Watch Club. It was during that time that I first met Hosanna, and the launch event was actually one of our first few dates. Hosanna was really keen on a piece but at that point they were already all allocated and spoken for. I then decided to commission a one-of-a-kind version based on our club’s edition. I thoroughly enjoyed the collaboration process with Ulysse Nardin and the synergy was great. Thankfully the brand was also thrilled to be part of our engagement and the rest is history.

Hosanna: I didn’t have much influence in this matter, as I was kept in the dark, which explains why Tom was disinterested in any engagement ring I showed him prior to the engagement. Jokes aside, the timepiece holds significant value to me due to its symbolic importance. Although subtle at first glance, its intricate features, such as the grand feu enamel dial that never fades with time, symbolize the promise of a lifetime. Having my name subtly engraved on the dial serves as a reminder of Tom’s steadfast commitment to our marriage.

Q4: You guys must have great influence on each other’s taste when it comes to watches, what inspires you guys individually and how has it evolved over the years?

Tom: I’ve always been most fascinated by mechanics and technical challenges which is probably why I’m always drawn to complications and unique time displays. When I first started appreciating watches, like many I was chasing after iconic models that were most popular. With time my taste evolved and my confidence developed to seek out overlooked references from the past that were mechanically exceptional. Chiming watches are a genre that Hosanna and I discovered together and we share a deep appreciation for, adding an aural dimension to the hobby.

Hosanna: Perhaps it has to do with my love for photography, I am drawn to the timeless approach to design. Hence, the simplicity, elegance and legibility of time instruments speaks a lot to me; be it the typeface, dial finishing, choice of hands, proportion of dial to case, movement-to-case ratio – these subtle details are crucial yet commonly overlooked by many. There’s this quiet confidence in brands who accompany the momentum and ease of creation, yet remaining true to its tradition, with the ability and flair to produce timepieces which withstand the test of time, reinterpreted for a modern audience.

Q5: What are your thoughts on couples sharing watches or do you think it’s better to get similar designs or case material but still stick to more appropriate sizing?

Tom: We really enjoy sharing our watches! It helps that we both love classically sized watches ranging from 34mm to 38mm. This size bracket is great for couples to share and I highly recommend it. For most of the references we both love, we have matching his-and-hers pieces that we often wear together.

Hosanna: I’m all for it, as it adds another layer of depth to our watch collecting journey, allowing us to exchange personal stories while wearing these shared timepieces. It’s beneficial that Tom and I have similar tastes and are particularly attracted to timepieces from the Post-Quartz Crisis era.

Q6: Hosanna, you’ve mentioned previously that “Our timepieces are extensions of ourselves.” If your watches could speak, how would your watches describe you?

Tom: People say that a man’s watch can tell a great deal about its wearer. I think that is true but only half of it. Each watch shares a peek into a facet of its wearer, and most people have many different facets. There are some watches that I wear mostly for outdoor activities, while some I wear only on special occasions. Some I own just to behold their mechanical qualities, others to hang on to a moment in history. I think my watches would describe me as attentive, respectful, and caring.

Hosanna): I am generally inclined to timepieces which are classically grounded with a touch of flair. If my watches could express themselves, they would depict me as refined yet subtly unique.

Q7: Who do you think has better taste when it comes to watches?

Tom: I think Hosanna has a better eye for balance and aesthetics in general, but having a deeper understanding and exposure to watches, I can evaluate their design in context to technical limitations and historical standing.

Hosanna: No doubt about it, it’s definitely my husband. Tom, being a true WIS (Watch Idiot Savant), has shaped my perspective over the years and exposed me to the limitless potential of watches through his wealth of knowledge, in particular, the genre of vintage watches.

Q8: What is one watch you would love to see your partner own one day?

Tom: I’d love to someday see Hosanna pull off wearing a vintage pocket watch! It’d be amazing to see how she styles it in a contemporary and unique way.

Hosanna: A unique piece commissioned by Atelier de Chronometrie, as it best embodies Tom’s personality and watch collecting philosophy – loyal to tradition yet possessing the ability and flair to innovate over time.