In Japan, a Watch Collection May Include an Alias

Tokyo – A Day Bethune DB27 Titan Hawk V2 Wrist Watch together A plate of fried goja. A Kari Vutilinen 28SC flanked by Along with soup, serve tonkatsu while dipping sauce and pickles. And a richard met rm 016 accent marks with oysters in yuzu.

From their daily Instagram posts, you actually learn more about Chrono Shanti’s collection of over 600 watches, and more about their food preferences – as you do about the collector himself. You never see his face, and his real name is never revealed.

His 14,600 Instagram followers do not know this nor are readers of his regular contributions to the local Horrorology magazine Power watch. But that’s how he likes it, and he’s not alone.

I recently met Chrono Shanti and his two collector friends, And emilia.summer911In a watch boutique, which he manages in Tokyo’s upscale Ginja district.

The three collectors, all men, insisted on being identified only by their social media nicknames, primarily, they said, for security reasons – even though Tokyo is generally considered a safe city. Chrono Peace, which has been using only its surname for three years, said, “We’re walking around wearing thousands of dollars worth of watches, we can’t take that risk.”

But his anonymity was not only for interviews. “We also call each other by our surnames in in-person meetings. This is just common knowledge, ”Chrono Shanti said pointing to his friends. “I don’t even know what they do for a living.”

The Tokyo watch collector scene is a particularly exclusive and secretive world. “It is a difficult world to enter; It is anonymous, ”said Pierre-Yves Donze, a professor of business history at Osaka University’s Graduate School of Economics, an expert on the Swiss watch industry and Japanese history. “This is explained by things specific to Japanese culture, and others that are specific to the clock direction.

“In Japan, when it comes to the consumption of luxury goods, the Japanese are not attractive. This is the prudent side of the Japanese, and it explains this desire to remain anonymous, ”he continued. “It’s the love of the watch that takes over, and the product gets noticed.”

Chrono Shanti expressed a similar opinion, although he stated that he believed that austerity had become part of the watch collector culture around the world. “More and more collectors are becoming famous without showing their faces,” he said. “It is the new fashionable way to communicate, and credibility can be built by the remaining anonymous these days.”

(Perhaps the most famous example in Europe would be the collector Auro Montanari. He kept his identity secret for many years – wrote several books on watches under the name John Goldberger – until he Was unmasked In 2018).

But the discussion with the three men changes, as it usually does with collectors, to watches.

Former technical consultant Chrono Pease, who would only say he was in his 40s, said that when he was 16 years old he started collecting watches. “I took a break, then I started again 4 or 5 years ago,” he said.

He then began building his popularity among watch lovers on Instagram, often featuring independent brands. “I prefer independent watch brands, because they are all about the experience of wearing a watch,” he said. Three Swiss brands – Romain Gauthier, Armin Strom and Chronoswis – showed their appreciation by creating limited edition pieces for them.

“Chrono Peace is one of Japan’s most influential watch enthusiasts and collectors,” Armin Strom founder Serge Mitchell said in an email. “I am impressed by his great passion for mechanical watches and his fascination for our unwavering commitment to horological innovation.”

Of the three individual models, Chrono Peace stated that his favorite was the Romain Gothier Chrono Peace Edition Insight micro-rotor, designed specifically for him in a three-piece version engraved in navy rubber straps and CP’s movement. He said, “I have also decided the color: blue-plated with three different shades of blue to show depth.” (Blue is his favorite color.)

The other two pieces, as limited editions, were sold to Japanese watch enthusiasts.

Why is his fellow collector called the Jardin, the French word for garden? This is only a sound that the owner of an online advertising agency has liked. “I learned Basic French when I was 18,” he said. “Since then, I’ve used the term as a sports user or social media nickname.”

Jardine, 35, started collecting 15 years ago and now has 30 timepieces. “I’ve always loved mechanical things since I was little, things that aren’t powered by batteries,” he said.

But jardins do not wear watches every day, or rather, in all seasons. “Sweating is harmful, and old watches are not waterproof,” he said. He displayed a Bordeaux color strap on his Rose Gold Vacheron Constantin Reiff. 4178, dating from the 1940s. “It is a Jean Russo leather strap. They can apply rubber on the back, so you can wear it in the summer, ”he said – though he doesn’t. “Japanese summers are full of madness.”

Jardine’s favorite piece is a Patek Philippe Ref. 2526 Tropical. “It’s the most famous Calatrava, vintage since the 1950s,” he said. “It has now been discontinued.” He said it was the most handcrafted watch he had encountered, for the finish and all the details. “This is the ultimate three-hand watch,” he said, noting that he had bought it at an old watch store in Ginza, and that the leather strap is a Caramel-Hill Camille Fournette.

Emilia’s wife chose her name, which corresponds to a Final Fantasy game character. He is 33 years old, works in international trade including automobile import and export, and began collecting watches only three years ago.

“My friend said, ‘If you love cars, maybe you’ll be interested in collecting watches.’ I love cars a lot, and now I love watches, especially those inspired by cars like Richard Mill. “Watches are like a car engine in a way.” His current collection is in 20 watches.

In addition to her favorite Richard Mill model – an RM65-01 in black carbon and a style made in white ceramic for the 2018 Le Mans Classic Car Race – Emilia was her Patek Philippe Minute Repeater Pocket Watch, which she described as 130 years old. . “This is a pocket watch, made for Patek Philippe Tiffany,” he said. “Found it in an old store in Ginza.”

With all its watch flagship stores and other stores full of treasures, Ginja Tokyo is a playground for watch collectors. Walking along Nami-Dori, known to locals as “Watch Street”, is like an introductory course for Swiss watch brands, compiled with Chanel and Louis Vuitton’s boutiques.

The shop where we all met was the result of Chrono Shanti’s frustration with the sale of the watch. It is called Chrono Theory (of course), and it opened in February.

“Independent brands sometimes exceed 150 percent in Japan compared to Swiss retail prices, and the shopping experience is not efficient,” he said. “I wanted to narrow the gap, so I started Chrono Theory to protect independent brands that suffer from old-fashioned Japanese layers.” He does not own the business, but serves as a general manager and creative director.

The boutique, which also has a bar, carries nine independent watch brands (including) Constantin chikin, Armin Strom and Christoph Claret) In its spacecraft-inspired setting. Chrono Peace said, “All the brands I take are brands that I have experience with and can recommend.

Right now the store only opens by reservation, although Chrono Peace said it was thinking of opening it to the public in May – however, he said, when tourists are allowed to enter the country, they Return to the reservation.

Since its opening, Chrono Theory has become a meeting place for local watch devotees and it has occasionally become the venue for events focusing on a particular brand, with food being fed by neighboring restaurants.

“None of us really works in the watch industry,” Chrono Pease said. “We never talk about our personal lives. Everything just revolves around clocks. “

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