Malek bin Easa is a regular contributor to MONOCHROME. Malek is the driving force and founder of the Emirates Watch Club and in that position a well-known figure in the Arab watch scene. This time we asked the Dubai-based collector about one of his most cherished timepieces, his Schwarz Etienne Roma Synergy by Kari Voutilainen. A model that has his personal touch! Because indeed, it’s not just a classic Roma Synergy by Kari Voutilainen (if ever there was anything classic about this watch anyway…) but it’s the special edition made especially for the members of the Emirates Watch Club. Let’s discover everything that makes this watch a true gem.
Frank Geelen, MONOCHROME – When was the first time you laid eyes on Schwarz Etienne as a brand?
Malek bin Easa, founder of the Emirates Watch Club – I can’t remember exactly, but it was through browsing online a few years ago, maybe in 2016. The brand appealed to me because the company, which is over 100 years old, produces great movements for its own watches including the hairsprings, and also produces them for others.
And why did this Roma Synergy edition designed by Kari Voutilainen stand out to you?
I had been interested in this model since they announced the collaboration with Kari in 2020. For me, this meant a collaboration between the two best watchmakers in the world. When it came out, I was fascinated by its looks and the mechanical side of it; the micro-rotor, the 84-hours power reserve, it’s a great movement. And then that beautiful dial with a great 3-pattern guilloche handmade by one of the best watchmakers in history, Kari Voutilainen. He also decorated the movement in such a beautiful way.
The 39mm diameter of the case makes it a proper dress watch, too. However, I didn’t buy what they launched. In collaboration with Schwarz Etienne, I was able to have the watch made with a different dial colour and numerals, as a special limited edition for our Emirates Watch Club.
What role does the Club play in your life?
I founded Emirates Watch Club (@ewc.ae) to be surrounded by collectors as much as possible. It’s a great feeling to share so much joy and so much fun. We learn from each other, we support each other and guide each other. This hobby is 10 times more fun when you’re surrounded by people who share the same passion as you.
Did you visit the Schwarz Etienne workshops yourself to watch the production process?
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic situation, I couldn’t but I was in touch with them on calls and WhatsApp. I met CEO Mauro and his team when they spent Dubai watch week here, so we had a full week together and I can tell you we are more than a family. We got along and we had a great bonding together. I am looking forward to meeting them in Switzerland soon.
Does your Schwarz Etienne get a lot of wrist time?
Well, yes and no. I love wearing it, and so far, since I got it, it’s one of the watches I wear most. But no, because I just got it 2 months ago and I have many watches I like, so I keep the rotation up.
Do you get many reactions to your watch?
Yes, I do big time! It is a watch everyone talks about. I couldn’t believe what happened when we launched the edition. It was during Dubai Watch Week, and everyone contacted me ready to even pay a premium for it, although they knew it was not available for anyone but club members who had already placed the order with the brand. Even the brand itself was thrilled about what happened when they participated in DWW. They saw the traffic we made for them there. This model has potential, I was right about that all along.
If you were to sell it, what would be the current market value?
I really never thought about this at all, we announced the price of the edition, CHF 38,000 excluding VAT. But I don’t care about the price now. I will never sell this watch. Never ever. It is the watch I put my personal touch on and it’s the watch I loved at first sight!
How would you describe your watch collection so far?
It’s growing very well and I believe I’m a guy who likes to have a watch from each brand. That said, it should win my heart of course!
Can you give examples of models that have won your heart so far and why?
Are there more watches on your wishlist?
There are many watches on the way and I hope to get lucky, as you know nowadays, especially with independent brands, it is never about the money. The allocation is not for everyone. I’ve got the money so let’s hope I can get what I want and then I will tell you! In the meantime, I believe Urwerk is doing an amazing job with Rexhep Rexhepi, MB&F, De Bethune, Parmigiani, Cyrus and Mauron Musy, too.
For now, the next watch I will be getting will be the 2021 Gérald Genta Mickey Mouse watch. I will receive the first one to come to the Middle East, thanks to my friends at Bulgari, Fabrizio Buonamassa and Vincent Reynes.
Is it important to be in touch with the makers personally, and is it feasible for everyone?
For me, it’s very important, because the whole experience matters. I love to buy the watch and get to know everyone through this purchase and that’s so easy with the independents, that’s why I am keener towards indies. You buy a watch, then you become a family member to them. And to be honest, I found that with some of the group brands too, like Bulgari and Girard-Perregaux ‘based on my own experience’.
Finally, do you have tips for other collectors?
Just buy what you like after looking it up. Read as much as you can. The sources available now are better than ever. Then build your own opinion and make your own decisions based on yourself. Start small. The journey to purchasing the watch is never easy for most watches. But the harder it is to get it, the more beautiful it will look when you have it.