My Three-Watch Wardrobe: Entrepreneur And Collector Mr Fed Tan

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My Three-Watch Wardrobe: Entrepreneur And Collector Mr Fed Tan

Words by Mr Chris Hall

12 May 2022

Mr Federico “Fed” Tan launched his new communications agency and brand consultancy Advisory Council in 2021, but has spent 20 years working with fashion and luxury brands across Asia, orchestrating groundbreaking cultural collaborations and launches. As his tightly curated Instagram feed (every third post is a watch – usually of the “immediately sold out” variety) would suggest, taking part in our Three Watch Wardrobe fantasy shopping exercise was no chore.

“I’d say I’ve been collecting watches for just over a decade. It started when I got married and my father-in-law gave me a Rolex ‘Kermit’ Submariner. That was my entry into vintage Rolex – the first five to seven years of my watch collecting it was all vintage watches, but I didn’t take it too seriously. If the opportunity came to pick up a good watch I would take it. In terms of going in at the deep end, that happened during Covid. It all started with a brand called F.P.Journe.

“At the start of 2020, I had a free day during Paris mens’ fashion week and went to the F.P.Journe boutique with a friend. We checked out some watches and the next day he bought an Élégante; I’m jealous, so we go back to the boutique and they say, ‘Sorry, we don’t have any more, however we get deliveries every Monday.’ My flight was Monday afternoon, so I went there on the way to the airport, and I was lucky, the watch I wanted was in stock. I bought it, then I head back to Hong Kong and Covid hits; we were locked down and I started using my time to research independent watch brands. So then I was in at the deep end.

“I had a chance to buy the Chronomètre Bleu, the most sought-after Journe model, for which I paid a little bit above retail… I had two, then three, then that became four. The collection started getting bigger and bigger. I became friends with a guy called Austen Chu – @horoloupe on Instagram. He released an Audemars Piguet collaboration, the Perpetual Calendar China Edition and I had the good fortune to get allocated one, so I bought that. You can’t not do it – regardless of how much it costs, I knew I had to bite the bullet and go for it. So that was my first AP. Then I bought a Patek Philippe Aquanaut – weirdly for a period it was very easy to get an Aquanaut, so I did it. The collection went from primarily vintage Rolex to then having a lot more modern watches. And now I’m in deep.”

“As I got into modern watches, I didn’t think much about Vacheron Constantin until Mark Cho put on an exhibition of their Historiques pieces at The Armoury in Hong Kong. Mark’s always been a good guide in the world of watches to me, and having met the brand then, I started a relationship that ended with me buying the titanium Overseas Everest Dual Time last year. That watch made me look at Vacheron in a new light.

“With every brand that I pick up, I always like to pick up the most classic watch that they have, the watch that forms the basis of that brand. With Vacheron Constantin, I feel like that would be the FiftySix, and I like the calendar version. The proportions are great – I didn’t even realise it was 40mm, which is a bit big for me, my sweet spot size is 39mm. If I had this, I would probably be in constant rotation and I’d dress it down with a Nato strap. I have a Calatrava on a Nato strap, and I’d do the same with this.”

“This is a watch I actually own, and I’m almost certain I was the first person in Hong Kong to get it, just because I put the request in the minute it was launched. It’s a juxtaposition of a dress watch and a casual watch – I like titanium, as with the Overseas Everest – and it’s a nice conversation piece as well, with the skeleton dial. I know it took a while for people to look at Hermès as a watch brand in a certain way, they treated it as a fashion brand, but they have come a long way in a short amount of time in the last few years.

“When I first got the Hermès, it was in heavy rotation – I don’t really buy watches for certain occasions, I always find ways to dress them down or up. To put it in a fashion context, last October Loro Piana collaborated with Hiroshi Fujiwara on some distressed cashmere sweaters; I bought a few of those knit pieces, and I wore the Hermès a lot with that. From a colour palette I was wearing a lot of dark greys at that point, it blended in nicely.”

“I think Laurent Ferrier is a really interesting brand. I like that it’s an independent watchmaker, and I think it really stands out in the portfolio of MR PORTER. I don’t have one, but it is something I’ve got my eye on. I have seen a lot of people posting about LF, and that tells me there’s a lot of interest in the brand. The entry price is not exactly low – it’s a commitment, so I want to make sure I get the right one.

“A few things stood out for me – mainly the positioning of the date at the three o’clock and the dual time at nine o’clock; it’s quite an unusual way of displaying a dual time complication. And I really warmed to the combination of rose gold, grey satin dial and brown leather strap. I tend to wear a lot of black, but I’m getting back into indigo dyes, wearing a lot of visvim, which would go well with the rose gold and that satin dial.”

Third time’s a charm