Today we’ll be talking with a collector from the other side of the world – that’s the beauty of collecting these days, there are no borders anymore. His alias @Nopstar83 on Instagram may be familiar to you, since his posts of wristshots with (mainly) Audemars Piguet watches truly attract the attention! We spoke to the 38-year old watch fan, who works in IT in Singapore, about one of his favourite watches – an Audemars Piguet, as you’d expect from him, but not your typical Royal Oak. Instead, we’ll be talking about a rare and very special watch, the Edward Piguet Ultra-thin Skeleton Quantième Perpetuel in rose gold reference 25734OR.
Frank Geelen, MONOCHROME – How did you get so interested in Audemars Piguet?
@Nopstar83 – I got into luxury watches more than 10 years ago, in my first job in the IT industry. I started collecting other brands like TAG Heuer and Panerai, but once I held my first Audemars Piguet in my hands – back in 2009 – I knew there was no turning back. I was hooked! I remembered it was a Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph “Bumble Bee”, which was one of the first production models to be made in a revolutionary forged carbon case and ceramic bezel!
What I love about AP is their forward-thinking mindset towards horology – in terms of their use of materials, like ceramic, forged carbon, titanium, etc, and always being unafraid to experiment with new things. If you look at Audemars Piguet’s modern history, you will see, apart from the obvious achievement of practically defining a new genre of horology in the integrated steel sports watch segment back in 1972 with the Royal Oak, its pioneering work in the “oversized” sports luxury watch trend with the Royal Oak Offshore line in 1993, subsequently paving the way for out-of-this-world concept watches with the AP Concepts that were ahead of their time in the early 2000s. One can argue the significance of this in setting the stage for the likes of Richard Mille to develop further on this concept and make it their foundation of success in the ultra-high-end tier of the luxury watch industry.
Why was this particular watch the one you desired to own?
I found this watch on Instagram being sold by a reputable grey dealer in the US and was immediately blown away by how cool and intricate it looked. I purchased it and later found out that it was originally sold by AP here in Singapore way back in 1994! I was so amazed by the coincidence – that this watch had travelled all around the world and somehow managed to serendipitously find its way back to its place of origin, Singapore! I am a huge believer in fate and we as watch collectors all love a good watch-hunt, and I think it’s safe to say that it probably doesn’t get any more fated than this!
What distinguishes this model from other AP models?
I was very into hunting vintage pieces or more obscure pieces in the brand’s history as I had been through all the more contemporary catalogues already. Also, after reading about AP’s history and the significance of the Quantième Perpetuel watches in helping the brand survive the quartz crisis, I grew an obsession with acquiring more obscure and rare QP’s from their history.
Moreover, I had always liked rectangular-shaped timepieces and this was relatively good value compared to the Royal Oak equivalent at the time (bear in mind this was in early 2020 when the Vintage Royal Oak QP prices were already well in the 100K-200k SGD range, whilst this was a fraction of that price so it seemed like such a great find!
Are you willing to share with us what you paid for it?
Let’s just say that I got it at a relatively good price compared to what its contemporaries would fetch in the market at an auction. I don’t know if I will ever sell it. I always believe that watch collecting is a journey and collectors are constantly evolving, so it’s inevitable for one to change one’s tastes in the future. I would say that if it’s fated for me to sell or buy something that it would happen naturally.
Does your watch get a lot of wrist time?
I rotate it with my other timepieces. It’s technically a vintage timepiece so it’s not water-resistant, hence I don’t wear it daily. It’s more of a smart-casual / formal dress attire kind of piece for me due to the intricate detailing on the dial (or lack-there-of) and the leaf-hands and of course, the rose gold case on an alligator strap. It never fails to get compliments or illicit a second glance from friends. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable timepiece and a true “collectors” favourite. It’s also a great conversation starter with fellow watch collectors and it gives me great pride when they say that they didn’t even know that AP made such watches or had such a product line. I always tell people that AP is so much more than just the Royal Oak.
You are an AP fan, of course. How would you describe your watch collection?
It’s been consolidated definitely in the last few years. You learn about your preferences over time and I am happy to say that my current collection is comprised of what I have been hunting for consistently over the last several years and finally have them, so I’m grateful to have the chance to own them. All in all, I would probably describe my collection as my all-time favourites from AP’s catalogue.
What’s next on your to-buy list?
It all depends on what will be launched next year for the Royal Oak 50th Anniversary. It’s going to be insane, I bet. I am still very passionate about collecting QP’s, so a ceramic skeleton Perpetual Calendar would definitely be a most welcomed surprise. But I have to say that patience is going to be key, as there is so much demand for Audemars Piguet that real collectors like myself might invariably get disappointed. All I can hope for is some joy from my sales representative eventually, although I know it’s very tough for them as well to try and keep every one of their clients happy. I definitely don’t envy their position.
Do you have any tips for other collectors who want the watch you possess?
I think with today’s sheer demand for luxury watches, especially brands like Audemars, Patek, Rolex, one’s personality and consistency is important in demonstrating to watch brands who you really are as a collector. Obviously, brands are trying to avoid selling to “serial-blatant-flippers”, so building a good relationship and a good understanding with your local boutique is more important than ever. I always believe that one should buy watches that he loves and that he can afford so that you don’t feel the urge to let it go within a short time. However, I feel that there are a lot of people who are invariable “chasing-the-hype” rather than buying a timepiece for the pure joy and love of it.
In terms of sourcing for nice pieces, it’s definitely more challenging than a few years ago. I see the trend of finding pieces through Instagram is very prevalent and even then, the probability of finding “hidden-gems” is becoming increasingly difficult. This is because more and more people are becoming dialled-in to searching for the “next-big-thing” that hasn’t been hyped up yet.
Finally, are you in touch with other collectors?
The relationships that are forged along the way are honestly the most important thing I am taking away from this 10+ years’ watch-collecting journey. The long-term friendships that are forged among the in-country community of collectors are priceless and at times you find the best pieces from fellow collectors or off the back of a reference check with a fellow collector.