For many watch enthusiasts, it is a quiet sort of a hobby (or obsession, in some cases), and in the pre-internet days, this was even more so. The creation of the WWW provided a boon to people interested in watches in terms of acquisition, sale, and meeting others of a like mind.
I was late to the online watch fora party; it wasn’t until early 2007 that I took the plunge into this mad world. The forum into which I first dipped my horological toe was Horomundi, now called Revolution Online. I can’t remember my reasons for choosing it, but I do remember that one of them was that compared to most other fora, it was still a relatively new and small community, the latter being important to me. I was welcomed, and I became a regular forum member.
It was on HM that I first came across Duncan Wang, who was not only one of the Mods but also one of the people behind the its founding. He was always welcoming to new members, happy to share his knowledge, and crazily generous to the forum. The backbone to the original HM community in many ways, his generosity to charities both in Singapore and abroad, especially children’s charities, was well known.
Over the next few years, Duncan became not only a “watch mentor” to me, but a dear friend as well.
Despite his not insignificant collection, he was low key about his watches, and would always show an interest (and a sharp sense of humour) in whatever new acquisition I’d bore him to tears with, even the US$29 1970s watch I got on ebay. Our tastes overlapped a bit, but not so much that we couldn’t engage in vigorous discussions about the merits (or otherwise) of various watches.
In 2009, I booked my flight to visit Duncan and other friends in Singapore. I was a week or so too late. I decided to continue the trip to Singapore, and to remember him in my own way; to eat at some of his favourite places with some of his friends, to visit a few watch shops and yes, I even bought a watch.
Shortly after he passed away, Duncan’s parents in the U.S. requested that his friends in Singapore find a fitting way to remember him each year, based on the two things that he was most passionate about – watches and his favourite charities.
So it was that in August last year, the first “Duncan watch” was auctioned for a children’s charity in Singapore that he had supported : the Kidz Horizon Appeal for children with chronic illnesses such as cancer or HIV.
There was a bit of history to his involvement with Kidz Horizon. In 2007, Duncan’s bid for a Vacheron Constantin timepiece had helped to raise S$75,000 for this cause.
“On this piece, the Singapore flag was hand-painted onto the rotor creating a truly memorable piece. Personally, I have always had a tremendous affinity for the Republic of Singapore and have spent much of the past 10 years living there. The opportunity to own this special piece and help a worthy cause was irresistible. As a person with considerable involvement with charities, I always respect companies that demonstrate a true commitment to giving back to the community and Vacheron Constantin has been a tremendous supporter of charitable purposes, be them organizations assisting the less fortunate or those supporting the arts. Not only does the company produce the highest quality timepieces, but it also sets a standard for civic mindedness that I admire and hope other organizations will emulate.”
(Duncan Wang, May 23 2008 — [www.thehourlounge.com])
The 2010 Vacheron timepiece raised S$60,000. Fittingly, since he was a native New Yorker, this watch was the re-issue of a timepiece that Vacheron Constantin first made for the American market in 1921.
This year, the brand is A. Lange & Söhne, who have offered to the Wang family a piece unique white gold example of their stunning and desirable (can you tell that I want one?) Zeitwerk as the “Duncan watch”, to be auctioned on August 27, 2011. This is the first Lange watch to be specially produced for a charity in Asia.
The Zeitwerk, features the movement caliber L041 and of special note because it was the first ever large digital display for a mechanical wristwatch.
These two inscriptions on the caseback “1/1” and “SGP 2011”, are highly unusual for A. Lange & Söhne, which rarely takes special requests for limited editions, and almost never with an inscription indicating that it is a pièce unique, or with the name of a city and year. The special exception was made by Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid as a recognition to Duncan as a collector and friend of the brand.
The main differences between the regular Zeitwerk in white gold Ref.140.029 and the one-of-a-kind Ref. 140.049F are as follows:
On the left, is the Ref. 140.029, and on the right, is the one-of-kind Lange Zeitwerk made for this year’s Kidz Horizon Appeal Charity Ball.
1. The regular white gold case has a black dial. The special watch has a grey dial.
2. The regular white gold case has digital sub-dials in black Arabic numerals on white background. The special watch has white Arabic numerals on grey background.
3. The special engraving at the rear bezel: “1/1 SGP 2011” is unique to this special watch.
4. The regular white gold case has a pin buckle, while this piece unique is fitted with a fold-over clasp.
Movement: Lange manufacture calibre L043.1, manually wound, crafted to the most exacting Lange quality standards, decorated and assembled by hand; precision-adjusted in five positions; three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver; balance cock engraved by hand; jumping minutes; constant-force escapement
Number of movement parts: 388
Screwed gold chatons: 2
Escapement: Lever escapement
Oscillation system: Shock-resistant Glucydur® balance* with eccentric poising weights; superior-quality balance spring manufactured in-house with patent-pending attachment system (balance spring clamp), frequency 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour, precision beat adjustment system with lateral setscrew and whiplash spring
Power reserve: 36 hours when fully wound
Functions: Jumping hours and minutes, small seconds hand with stop seconds, power-reserve indicator
Case dimensions : Diameter: 41.9 millimetres; height: 12.6 millimetres
Movement dimensions: Diameter: 33.6 millimetres; height: 9.3 millimetres
Case: White gold
Dial: Solid silver, grey
Time bridge: German silver
Hands: Rhodiumed gold
Glass and caseback: Sapphire crystal (hardness 9)
Strap: Hand-stitched crocodile strap, black
Buckle: Lange folding clasp in solid white gold
Edition: 1, with special engraving: “1/1 SGP 2011”
He was a man of strong principle, fierce loyalty and above all, a man with a big heart and generous spirit. The usual price of the white gold Lange Zeitwerk is $84,900, but I am certain that the auction will bring in an amount above this, for a worthy cause.
Duncan always believed that a watch should not be a safe queen, but used for the purpose for which it was created, so happy bidding, and may the watch will go to a home where it be will worn and enjoyed
(Many thanks to KC for the use of the photos and information about the auction)