Tidlos Craft had the honor to invite Frank from @frankfreak0914 about the art mastery of mechanical watches and the timeless value of the intangible “time”. Growing up in Taipei and influenced by his father, Frank started using his Sony Ericsson phone to take photographs of his beloved sneaker collection. Later his father gifted him a Nikon camera and lens set so that he could continue the passion of recording everyday life. Now Frank no longer collects sneakers, but focuses on his passion for watches.

 

“I found out that I value the quality of time, practicality of objects and whether it can accompany me for long.” says Frank. With much romance and nostalgia, watch collecting is not about the price, the brand, nor the vanity to him, what he values is the connection between time pieces and people. He will not only share his life experiences with us, but also the four watches that started his collecting journey: Longines HydroConquest, Tudor Black Bay, Panerai Luminor and Breitling Navitimer.

 

Watch Box Collection, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

TC: Hi Frank, we are very excited about this interview, thank you for joining us. Could you share with us where you are from and what do you do?

@frankfreak0914: I am happy to share. I was born in Wanhua, Taipei and now live in Xindian, Taipei because my family likes the freshness of the mountains. I majored in Civil Engineering. I used to work during the day, study at night and had some part-time jobs on the weekend. Now I am in the interior-Kitchen Design industry.

 

Kitchenware Design, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

TC: What made you choose the job in the interior decorator industry?

@frankfreak0914: After leaving the required military service about seven years ago, I was an assistant to the boss of high-end wood flooring company and now I have been its sales manager for twelve years.

 

Kitchenware Design, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

TC: How would you connect your work and your passion for watch collection?

@frankfreak0914: Many of my clients are bosses of construction companies, they often talk about luxuries. When they mention brands like Patek Philipppe and Audemars Piguet, I ought to understand what they are talking about in order to make conversations. Because of this, I started learning about watch brands, however, my interest really developed after having an Instagram account. Through the online community, I connected with many great collectors such as Luis (@luis6_kch), Kevin (@the_vintage_guy), and Horomariobro (@horomariobro). Luis is such a friendly person!

 

My first time participating in Red Bar Taiwan, I realized that it is a really international gathering, everyone was speaking English, not my type of occasion. Just when I was about to leave, someone I had never met before said to me, “I know who you are by looking at your Breitling.” I thought, “Shit, but I don’t know who you are!” Then I saw his Lange 1 at a glance, I immediately recognized that he must be Luis. It was very interesting to really experience the term “Making Friends Through Watches” (以錶會友). Although Red Bar is an international event, everyone started speaking local languages after introductions. I still recommend non-English speakers to participate in this event if you are invited.

 

Breitling Navitimer B01, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

A. Lange & Söhne, Lange 1,  Photo Courtesy of @luis6_kch

 

TC: Apart from collecting watches, do you have other interests?

@frankfreak0914: Before the watch collection came along, I was obsessed with sneakers, I would even queue to buy them. This interest was developed because of my obsession with outfits. In some ways, I want to make up for what I wanted to buy as a student but couldn’t afford. Then I changed my mind, it was not necessary to spend that much money on something meaningless. Unlike when I used to queue for Air Jordans, I only pay attention to sneakers occasionally now. Although my hobby has changed a little, I still love sneakers, I often put on Converse 1970 recently. You can see I love old school objects.

 

Converse 1970, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

Frank’s Shoe Collection, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

TC: Do you share similar values in collecting sneakers and watches

@frankfreak0914: The transition from collecting sneakers to collecting watches was because I found that sneakers age easily and they are fragile. It doesn’t mean watches don’t get old but in comparison, they just stop running at most if you don’t repair them. There would also be some inevitable scratches but can be preserved well to accompany me for a lifetime. Through collecting watches, I realized that time really flies, they are really the textbook of teaching us about time.

 

Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

NIKE AIR JORDAN 1 RETRO HIGH OG “Bred toe,” Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

NIKE AIR JORDAN 1 RETRO HIGH OG “Bred toe,” Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

My parents used to nag me a lot when I bought sneakers, but with watches, I can hide them easily. I still remember the day when I came home carrying a breitling bag, when asked by the elders at home, I said it was from CTBC Brothers Baseball Team (兄弟象棒球隊) merchandise (haha). I was not so lucky when I bought Tudor, I told them it was given by a client who I worked with so I technically didn’t lie, you can say it was exchanged with the bonus from the successful deal…paid by the client (laughs).

 

TC: In addition to watches and sneakers, we know that you are passionate about photography, can you share with us more?

@frankfreak0914: Sony Ericsson was the most popular mobile phone when I was in high school, it already had a good phone camera. I would shoot sneakers and post on Facebook, I gradually discovered my interest this way. From the perspective of inheritance, my dad uses a Nikon FM2 film camera and I use a Nikon monocular now. He still lets me use his lens from 30 years ago. Photography is a kind of inheritance, so it is said that other families inherit Rolex, my family inherits camera lenses.

 

Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

 NIKON FM2 底片相機  Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

Additionally, I also like to collect jeans. I am very drawn to the brush marks on denim, they are traces of life. Just like a watch collection, they can accompany me for a lifetime with memories. I especially admire a denim brand called Nudie, they have a campaign called “Nudie Reused” for second-hand recycling. It is a great concept of environmental protection and reuse. In other countries, they even send you a stitching kit if it’s broken.

 

Nudie  Jeans, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

Nudie  Jeans, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

TC: Back to watches, what was your first watch?

@frankfreak0914: My mom has to travel internationally for business often, she once bought a Swiss Military Hanowa watch for me from Amsterdam, a 36mm blue quartz watch. It was the beginning of my journey, it has been with me for ten years now.

 

Swiss Military Hanowa, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

Swiss Military, Hanowa, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

TC: Is Hanowa considered the first watch that got you into collecting watches?

@frankfreak0914: Actually not. You can say it was Longines, or my colleague who brought me into it. He convinced me that purchasing a watch is a reward for achieving life milestones, so I bought a Longines HydroConquest, it was about 50k NTD. I was young, it seemed to be expensive to me and I had no idea about the accuracy of a mechanical watch. I later found out that this watch was very inaccurate so I bought a Tudor Black Bay to replace it. Some tell me that Tudor is for people who can’t afford Rolex, but I think people who say this are the ones who don’t understand watches.

 

Tudor Black Bay 58, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

TC: What does this Tudor mean to you?

@frankfreak0914: I think Tudor is a commemorative brand, buying it is a milestone in my exploration of watch knowledge! When I bought it, I was hesitating if I wanted it to use a protection film. In the end, Kevin Lo inspired me to not wrap it. He often told me that when you buy a watch, you should wear it without fear of scratching. I also want to leave a trace of time and it’s more “humane”, especially when you look at Tudor’s rose gold details gleaming in the sun, it’s like telling me from a different angle “How about it? I am special!”

 

Tudor and Straps, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

What’s interesting is that when I switched to Tudor, I told my mother that it was given by a client. My mom compared Longines and Tudor and said, “Well, there is a difference between one hundred thousand and fifty thousand products!” I realized that the inspiration Tudor brought to me coincides with my values in being a salesperson. I enjoy the sales process and want to fully convey the characteristics of the products to customers. Good things speak for themselves and this is what Tudor makes me feel.

 

Tudor Black Bay 58, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

Friday night 

Favorite Denim 

With favorite watch 

I am willing to spend money on watches and Denims 

Because as long as you keep them well 

They can accompany you a long, long way 

The marks from daily usage 

Scratches left by wearing 

Each of them is a record of your history” 

 

Dad’s Tudor, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

TC: Except for the Black Bay and HydroConquest, which other watch holds special significance to you?

@frankfreak0914: The Panerai PAM00915 is particularly meaningful to me. My grandfather left a sum of money for me when he passed away and I didn’t want to use it all on the mortgage or invest in things that I can’t see. I wanted to put it on something I can wear and remember so I bought Panerai. It was love at first sight when I saw this watch, the product number is 288 which implies that my grandfather is my second dad*.

 

My grandfather used to be in the navy and his Shandong (山東) ancestry is really stubborn. It just so happens that the Guido Panerai family has an inseparable relationship with the Royal Italian Navy. As for why I chose a manual-winding watch, I honestly didn’t think much about the meaning of this function at the time but in retrospect everything is so coincidental that he used to hand-make toys like swords to me. Now when I wind the watch, I think of this old man, just like how he thought of me while making a toy. Everytime I visit his grave, I always wear this watch to see him.

 

Why did I choose the 915 model? My ideal Panerai has a small second hand, classic crown protecting bridge, 300-meter water resistance, 44mm, no date window with a transparent back, but I had no luck in finding one. Until one day before Chinese New Year celebration, my AD told me that the 914 I ordered was out of stock, and asked me if I wanted to change to 915. Originally, I wanted 914 because it is my birthday but 915 actually has all the specifications I wanted so no doubt, that one is it! Who knew that the price increased in just one week, I was really lucky!

 

*Second dad 288 – number 8 pronounces “Ba” in Mandarin Chinese, same pronunciation as Father – 爸爸 (baba).

 

Panerai, PAM00915, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

TC: Can you share the story of your Breitling with us?

@frankfreak0914: Everyone says that you should buy a watch for yourself for 三十而立* (San Shi Er Li),I think they just want to buy watches. I turned 30 that year so I used this excuse to buy a Breitling Navitimer B01 46mm for myself. However, I was not as moved or happy when I received it as when I got Tudor or Panerai, even occasionally thinking whether I should sell it, but only until I started wearing it. Every time I wear it, I am glad I didn’t sell it because it has a very complicated and beautiful dial. I look like a pilot when I wear it with a leather jacket. But if you ask me how to use it, it is very complicated, I still don’t really know.

 

*三十而立 (San Shi Er Li) – from the Analects of Confucius. “At thirty years old and established” means by the time I reach thirty years old, I have learned enough to establish a firm set of ideologies, philosophies and principles that will stand the test of time.

 

Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

Breitling Navitimer B01, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

When I first selected Breitling, I was also considering Zenith’s Pilot series. I especially fancy these two watches because I wanted to collect watches representing land, sea and air. I was lacking “air” at the time. Although I also like Zenith, I personally wanted a transparent back watch with automatic winding function, and it did not meet this specification unfortunately, I also didn’t like it that much. I say this because my Tudor has an automatic winding function and a solid bottom cover. Panerai is a hand-wound transparent back. At that time, Zenith’s AD told me that transparency isn’t the focus when buying a watch, I thought to myself “well, I am the customer, and it is important to me!” After he said that to me, I decided to never come back to this store again so I went to Breitling.

 

Another funny AD story is that once I wore Breitling to a chain watch store, the clerk said to me “with your age, you don’t look like you bought a more than 100k NTC piece”, and because I love changing straps, he thought I was wearing a fake Breitling. I literally have met a lot of weird watch salesmen.

 

Navitimer | How on Earth Does a Navitimer Work?

 

TC: How would you define the three watches of Panerai, Tudor and Breitling? What is their significance to you?

@frankfreak0914: In terms of storytelling, Panerai is the richest one. It is Tudor that allows me to go deeper into the watch world, I learned the most knowledge about watches from it. I remember hesitating between Tudor or Omega Seamaster series with a ceramic ring but it felt like plastic to me, it may be the ceramic material’s inevitable look. Later I understood that 50k NTD and 100k NTD ceramic ring textures are also really different. If I was spending 100k, I would rather choose the Tudor aluminum bezel. Although it is not very scratch-resistant, Tudor is considered an elegant military watch. The scratches on it actually feel like battle scars.

 

Panerai Luminor Base, Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

TC: Which brand or watch do you admire the most?

@frankfreak0914: Rolex’s submariner and Explorer II and Lange. Lange is a milestone representation for watch collectors, the movement is so good but it’s too expensive. I might say that Panerai and Breitling are tied for fifth place to me. Breitling’s series and line can especially be seen as its own.

 

TC: What about vintage watches?

@frankfreak0914: Definitely Longines or Grand Seiko. Although I still regret the accuracy of HydroConquest, I still have a longing for this brand, but I only like the ones before it was beaten by Seiko, the watches produced in that glorious era. It is good to note that there is a lot to understand in vintage watches, some parts of the watches may have been replaced, if you really want to buy it, you must do your homework.

 

Vintage Longines, Photo Courtesy of @giuseppe.totaro

 

TC: You mentioned that you also like independent brands, could you share with us?

@frankfreak0914: Christopher Ward from the UK and Stowa’s Bronze Vintage series from Germany. I like Ming very much as a microbrand but it is too hard to get one. I also like Maurice Lacroix and Chronoswiss very much. However, I think Chronoswiss’ recent designs are too modern, limited and very expensive, getting close to Seiko. As for Maurice Lacroix , I like the “Masterpiece” watches, but unfortunately there is no distributor in Taiwan. Their Aikon series are also pretty modern so I don’t particularly like the new models of these two brands.

 

Maurice Lacroix  Masterpiece Retrograde Calendar, Photo Courtesy of Monochrome Watches

 

Christopher Ward, C65, Trident Automatic, Photo Courtesy of Christopher Ward

 

Stowa Flieger 6497 Bronze Vintage, Photo Courtesy of Watch David

 

 Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Chronograph, Photo Courtesy of Monochrome Watches

 

Additionally, I also pay attention to some Asian brands such as Japan’s All Tokyo and Singapore’s Feynman Timekeepers (@feynman.watch). FT’s watches were almost sold out when it was launched, the design is very unique too.

 

Feynman Coalesce, Photo Courtesy of Feynman Timekeepers

 

TC: Which micro-brands have you thought about collecting?

@frankfreak0914: What I care about micro-branding is accuracy, and in fact, I already have a watch purchase list, I have to collect these watches before I can get other ones. I almost bought a Seiko Prospex when I visited the store with my friend, thank god I resisted without touching my list. What I want the most is Glashütte Original.

 

Glashütte Original 40mm,  Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

Glashütte Original 40mm,  Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

Glashütte Original 40mm,  Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

Glashütte Original 40mm,  Photo Courtesy of @frankfreak0914

 

TC: Do you usually engage with Taiwanese watch community?

@frankfreak0914 : I have only participated in Red Bar in Taiwan, it’s hard for me to handle a social event like that. Other watch gatherings are probably derived from Facebook groups and I think some of them are a bit off the road. Some of them only value Rolex and Patek Philippe. Other brands seem to have no say in the groups. I think that regardless of the brand, people who understand watches will understand. I like the kind of groups that talk about non-mainstream brands and watches of various price points, such as 郭大 (Guo Da) and 大人的時計 (Da Ren De Shi Ji). After all, my photos only get likes in those groups (haha).

 

At the beginning, Red Bar gave me the unattainable feeling of “oh my god, can i participate?”, but it later proved that these are merely thoughts, it is purely a watch event regardless of your watch level. Of course, there will always be people wearing high-end brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe and Lange but I think Red Bar focuses more on the connections between the watch and the person, that is the relationship and story between them. The focus is no longer on watch brands but on how a person wears a watch that already has a brand story into his/her own personality and style. I think this is the core value of watch communications.

 

TC: Through social media, do you have interesting experiences with foreign watch lovers or visited watch craft villages?

@frankfreak0914 : We actually have many Taiwanese watch collectors abroad. Without knowing they are Taiwanese, I often try very hard to communicate in English, so when they offer to speak Chinese to me I realize there’s so many Chinese speaking collectors out there internationally. Much less pressure then (laughs).

 

If I have a chance, I would love to go to Germany to see their watch towns. I want to visit A. Lange & Söhn, Glashütte Original and NOMOS’ birth place. I also like Stowa, but it uses a common movement instead of a German movement, not a very pure German brand then. I think the best thing about German brands is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy higher quality. If you buy a Nomos transparent back with a price of 40-50k, you’ll see it is worth much more than the price after studying the movement.

 

TC: When obtaining watch information, what do you want to learn the most?

@frankfreak0914: I like to read about the connection between a watch and its history, I’ll use Tudor as an example. Tudor once visited a veteran who was involved in WWII who used to wear Tudor on the battlefield. His watch strap was hit by bullets so that it was deformed and didn’t fix it. Tudor offered to repair it after hearing about the veteran. I think this kind of interaction is really moving, of course, many people think it’s just a marketing strategy but I think at least the act continues the memory of a certain era and it is really meaningful.

 

*Related article: The Long Return, Part II: Restoring The Tudor That Took A Bullet In Vietnam

 

Tudor Submariner 7298, Photo Courtesy of Luxury Watcher

 

TC: What do you learn about yourself through collecting?

@frankfreak0914: From sneakers, Denims to watches, I find that I attach great importance to the quality of time, the practicality of objects and whether an object can accompany for a long time. For example, I have a Tokyo Porter bag that has been with me for 13 years, its half leather and half cloth material can be well maintained. Speaking of watches, their function is to tell time, my collecting philosophy is, “A person should not forget his original calling/intention, an object should be used for its original purpose.” This is why I care about how accurate a watch is, no matter how expensive it is. Of course the accuracy can never be as good as your iPhone or Apple watch but compared to cold electronics, watches give a more sensitive quality. I like the tick-tock sound next to my ear when I take a nap, you can feel the time passing bit by bit.

 

TC: Do you have a holy grail?

@frankfreak0914: Should be A. Lange & Söhn 1815 chronograph. Its craftsmanship makes you speechless and unbelievable at the same time. German watch brands don’t do too much splendid marketing, also a little bit less prestigious than the Swiss ones. However, they implement the spirit of “let the watch speak for itself” very well.

 

A. Lange & Söhn 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar, Photo Courtesy of DreamChrono

 

TC: What advice would you give to people who are just getting started with watch collections?

@frankfreak0914: I suggest that when buying the first watch, don’t ask others which one to buy, or be too obsessed with brands, do your homework first. Regardless of the CP value and do not regret buying it. Buying it simply because “I like this one” is already the best reason to buy it.

 

Some people suggest not buying anything at all in order to get a Rolex as the first watch. There is nothing wrong with this idea but I want to provide a better starting point. To be honest, with the number of watches I have purchased, I can definitely already own a Rolex Black Submariner. However, when I think of only wearing that Rolex all day, not being able to enjoy the experience of other brands, it’s much less fun. In other words, you may not be able to learn how to appreciate the awesomeness of Rolex yet.

 

This is very similar to love, you have to be brokenhearted a couple times in order to know what you really want…or to know the beauty of first love (haha). All in all, you can learn from mistakes. If you happen to buy it right, you’d also know that this is the right path for you.

 

Rolex Submariner, Photo Courtesy of HushHush

 

TC: Thank you Frank today for sharing so much with us. We are looking forward to the next talk already!

@frankfreak0914: thank you Tidlos Craft!