Hard Work Paid Off: Andrew’s JLC

The feature you’re about to read wasn’t written by me (Nick). The words are by new contributor Andrew Lim, a budding fine timepiece collector who hails from Down Under, but now lives in Chicago. As the inaugural year of Watch Patina winds down, and I anticipate what’s in store for 2016, l’m excited at the possibility of having fresh voices be a part of the blog. So, if like Andrew, you want to share your watch experience – in your own words – consider Watch Patina at your disposal…

JLC dial

I absolutely hate being in debt. The thought of owing people money makes me noticeably uncomfortable, to the point where I’d do just about anything necessary to square up. The irony is that this goes against everything I’ve learned throughout my university studies. Graduating first as an accounting major in college, then earning my MBA, I should thoroughly understand the theory behind financial leverage.

For me, moving to the United States from Australia for graduate school was a huge decision; and the completion of that undertaking, one of my proudest achievements to date. One significant reason why watches appeal to me is that they can be a more permanent reminder of a momentous occasion. Therefore I decided that the day I finally cleared myself of the burden of student loans, would be the day I purchase a timepiece as a reward.

JLC side

During 2012 I found myself extensively traveling through Europe and Asia on a consulting engagement for work. While abroad, I would dedicate my few spare moments to cruising through high-end watch boutiques such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Audemars Piguet. These trips are particularly enjoyable for me as I usually take the liberty to try on many of the avant-garde timepieces that one would not necessarily have access to back home (such as the $350,000 AP Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon Chronograph I had on my wrist in Singapore recently). Of the dozens of timepieces I had the pleasure of trying, one watch spoke to me like no other… Perhaps it was the unusual asymmetric layout of the dial that grabbed my attention? Or was it the romantic quality of the celestial phase de lune? Maybe it was the practicality of a full triple calendar that could help me make sense of my busy work schedule? Either way, the ref. 147.8.41.S Jaeger LeCoultre Master Calendar had it all and I decided right then and there that it had to be mine.

JLC rotor

But when I first fell in love with this watch, I had not yet made good on my goal of clearing my student loans. As such, I felt that I had not yet “earned” the right to purchase the watch, so to speak. This was an unfortunate predicament given that I found out that the manufacture planned to discontinue the reference in favor of a reissue that paid homage to the more traditional triple calendar LeCoultre designs of the early to mid-20th century. The immediately obvious difference was the absence of the power reserve indication in favor of a more symmetrical dial design, which brought the day and month apertures to either side of 12 o’clock. This meant that brand new examples of my prefered reference would be disappearing from the display cases of authorized dealers the world over. Well “crap” I thought to myself, as it would still be at least another six months until I completely repaid my student loan debt and could make a guilt-free purchase. It’s all about the principles with me – I would not buy this watch until the second I had achieved my goal of being debt free.

This leads me to one of the key aspects of watch collecting that I believe bonds us together: the “thrill of the search.” Or put differently, “misery loves company.” I’ve spent many an evening over a beer or scotch discussing the grail list of watch guys from all walks of life and have realized that the search for the next grail piece is a wonderful unifier among the WIS community. Whether it be helping a friend become acquainted with the intergenerational trappings of Patek Philippe or debating the merits of minutia in the vintage Rolex game, we all agree that having to wait for our next acquisition is a common denominator that ties us together.

JLC moon

You can most likely understand the elation I felt when just fourteen months after graduating, I had completely repaid my debt. Once I had made my last student loan repayment and freed up the funds to make the purchase of my JLC, it quickly appeared as if the world was beginning to conspire against me ever acquiring this piece.

First, one potentially became available through a relationship with a local authorized dealer. When this was confirmed to not be the model I was after, it was back to the drawing board. Then, an example surfaced in Manhattan. But before I could send a trusted friend to inspect it on my behalf, it was snatched up.  Exasperated, I trawled the forums and dealer websites religiously until what appeared to be an unworn example appeared – in New York City once again. I wasn’t about to let this one slip from my grasp; I decided to take a chance on the seller’s return policy and purchase sight unseen. Who in their right mind does this on a purchase of this magnitude? As a guy that spends an obsessive amount of time analyzing and researching the details (of both watches as well as merger and acquisition deals) this move was definitely out of character. Luckily for me the watch came as described, and as you could imagine, the satisfaction of unboxing it was one that is difficult to put into words…

This borderline obsession I have for watches represents both a moment in time such as a momentous occasion and the significance of the passage of time, as we appreciate how our collections age and evolve. They can mean so many things to so many people and that’s the beauty of them. Ultimately, the real debt I find myself in is to those whose passion I have the chance to share in every day.