In our ongoing series, My Favorite Watch, WatchTime speaks to interesting personalities in the watch industry. The interviews revolve around the subject’s favorite watch model, their experience in the industry, and other topics. This week we talk with Peter Chong, founder and Editor-in-Chief of Deployant.com.
What’s your favorite watch?
I don’t really have one favorite watch, but I do have several. One of them is the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph. Another is my Dufour Simplicity. But I am also partial to my Jaeger-LeCoultre Platinum 2. I am sorry I am not able to pick only one, but I managed to narrow to three! But let me focus on the Datograph.
Why that one?
The original Datograph was first shown to a rather surprised horological world at Baselworld 1999. At the launch, it was groundbreaking. Lange had begun its revival in 1990, and by 1994 it had announced its first series of four models to the public. Before Baselworld 1999, it had released three other watches, each with its own in-house movement — a magnificent feat!
The Datograph [which had its own in-house chronograph movement] was earth-shattering in 1999. Why? For a long time, the luxury watch industry had been dependent on a few specialist manufacturers for their chronograph supply. Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and most major manufacturers were still using Valjoux base movements in their chronographs. They later switched to using Lemania. Other majors, like Rolex, depended on Zenith to supply them with El Primero movements. While it was true that Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin made many improvements over the ébauches, nonetheless, they had no in-house chronograph of their own. Rolex’s Daytona was using a Zenith El Primero movement, also heavily modified for Rolex’s purposes. Audemars Piguet was utilizing the Dubuis Dépraz module on an ETA-sourced base movement on its iconic Royal Oak Offshore, and the Piguet 1185 on the Royal Oak Chronograph. I was fascinated by this. And the beauty of the [Datograph] movement design took my breath away. The finishing on that L951 caliber is magnificent and par excellence. And the watch sits beautifully and comfortably on my wrist. One of my favorites.
You’ve referred to yourself as a “watch collector.” How many watches do you own? Do you wear all of them?
I do wear all my watches for different occasions.
Is there a defined goal you want to reach as a collector, such as owning a specific number of watches or all the versions of one model?
No defined goal. In fact, after about 25 years collecting, I have mostly stopped buying watches.
How and when did your passion for watches start?
I have always had a passion for horology and things that are handmade. This passion was ignited as I started my working career and bought the first watch with money I earned myself. This was a Girard-Perregaux chronograph, circa 1989 or so.
You founded Deployant.com in 2014. Why was a new website for watch collectors necessary? What are the articles focused on?
We find that most of the websites reviewing and discussing watches are either watch forums (more about that later) or started by journalists. The websites by journalists pursue journalistic goals, like going after breaking stories or being the first to report about a new watch or an event. But we are a website that is collector-driven, and we focus on what is of interest to collectors. Our reviews often not only describe the watches, but also offer our opinion, analysis, and comparisons to other watches which are competitive to our review subject.
Watch forums are driven by collectors. I was one of the first to be involved in watch forums, from the early days of Timezone.com, and I was the first to start a brand focused forum, launching the A. Lange & Söhne forum on Timezone in 1999 or so. This was, I believe, the first mono-brand forum ever, and was launched together with the IWC mono-brand forum, also on Timezone. But over the years, we have seen that forum participation has dropped off. Participants are more keen on faster ways of sharing their passion and have adopted the new social media platforms like Instagram, instant messaging and Facebook. When we started Deployant.com, we included these technologies, as well as a mobile-specific website to address this.
A day without a watch – is that possible for you?
No, I can’t imagine a day without wearing a watch.