icky Wong, 46, became interested in watchmaking via diving – or more precisely, via his uncle’s diving watch, whose luminescence fascinated him as a child growing up in New York. So it was entirely natural that the budding collector should turn to the specialist in the field, Panerai, in the early 2000s. “That was the first phase of my watchmaking journey but it didn’t last very long,” he explains. “After a few years, my tastes evolved. I sold most of the watches or gave them away to family members.”
The second phase of his watchmaking journey, from 2015 onwards, saw him initially take an interest in IWC, before turning decisively to the art of Japanese watchmaking, as demonstrated by Seiko and Grand Seiko. “I’m fascinated by Japanese culture, and by Japanese products, especially the more vintage ones,” says Ricky Wong, who now hosts the Grand Seiko Owners Club on Facebook. “And all the models I buy, it’s really so I can wear them.”
The second phase of his watchmaking journey saw him initially take an interest in IWC, before turning decisively to the art of Japanese watchmaking.
- Ricky Wong
This newfound passion led to his unearthing a rare gem on eBay: a military watch produced by Seiko for the British Royal Air Force (RAF) in the 1980s. “The transaction with the UK-based seller was excellent, and that strengthened my conviction that I should always use the official platform and not try to buy direct from the seller.”
For future purchases, Ricky Wong has no hesitation. Either he’ll see the watch in person at a retailer, or he’ll go through a secure platform.
Indeed, a few years earlier, the collector had agreed to a barter that he still regrets today. He arranged to swap his Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch for a ceramic Panerai that he was very interested in. “I was perhaps too sure of myself in agreeing to the trade on the spot, outside the safeguards of a platform such as eBay,” he says. “The watch arrived but the papers were mismatched, which puzzled me. Then there was a problem with the power reserve. Each time, the person who’d sold me the watch tried to reassure me. One day I took it to a Panerai boutique, where I was told that it was not a Panerai. After that, the seller stopped talking to me, and legally there was nothing I could do.”
For future purchases, Ricky Wong has no hesitation. Either he’ll see the watch in person at a retailer, or he’ll go through a secure platform (eBay has recently introduced listings marked with an Authenticity Guarantee badge, providing an extra layer of security, including for luxury timepieces). But he hasn’t lost his taste for collecting: on eBay, he regularly finds components to repair his vintage Seiko models. And watches aren’t his only passion: he also collects fountain pens. He hopes to find more rare gems on the platform very soon.