As part of the Men’s Folio April ’20 Time Features, we spoke to two local artisans, Mark Ong of Mr Sbtg and Xie Hui of Stone for Gold, about their personal trove of watches and the stories behind each piece. Mark Ong was featured earlier, here is the second part of the story.
“Bund straps are my favourite,” says Xie Hui, founder of Stone for Gold as he points out to four watches fitted with said strap. Xie Hui started the business in 2008 crafting leather straps; the brand has since evolved into one that deals with various forms of leather goods. The idea behind the brand name is simple but with a personal touch. “Bring your stone and trade it for gold. Stone is also my nickname so technically it’s my name in the brand as well,” laughs Xie Hui.
While taking a “craftsman’s path” is not for many, it is one that Xie Hui does not regret. “It has opened many doors and given me a lot of connections and opportunities. I have even traveled overseas to work with clients who are super watch collectors.”
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The Patek Philippe 5170J was introduced in 2010 as the latest in a legacy of great manually wound, two-register chronographs. It replaced the epic 5070, which was Lemania powered, and brought the size down to 39mm. And for the first time used an in-house manually wound chronograph caliber. The 5170 was introduced originally, and exclusively in yellow gold, giving it the title 5170J. But just today, Patek was kind enough to show us the 5170G, aka the 5170 in white gold. . . . #patekphilippe #5170g #patekphilippe5170g #dailywatch #watchoftheday #leathercraft #watchcollector #saddlestitch
On buying watches especially vintage pieces from the secondary market. “Do your homework before pulling the trigger, that includes opening the caseback to check the movement and for the service history. If you aren’t familiar with it, ask a friend who is well-versed in it.”
“I’ve always liked tool watches. If you look through my entire collection, you’ll see similar styles. They are perfect for me when I’m doing craft jobs.” Here is a small peek into Xie Hui’s personal collection of watches.
“This was the first Rolex watch that I bought after starting Stone for Gold full time. At the infancy of my career, I was making straps for a lot of vintage Rolexes, and I was poisoned (enchanted) by their beauty. When I bought this, prices were not as high compared to the astronomical prices they command presently.”
Rolex GMT-Master II
“I bought this as a replacement for my GMT Master Ref.16750, which I sold four years ago that I now regret. This red bund strap was originally fitted on that piece; for some reason, I kept it all these years. When I look at the strap, I am reminded of how far I have come as a strap maker.”
“This is one of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ watches that was made for the British Military in 1945. I bought this from a friend of mine who bought it for $10. He sold it to me at a fair price after digging it out from a box of junk. Unfortunately, I feel it is not wearable because of the watch size; it is too small for me. You can see from this piece too that most of my watches are fitted with bund straps because it is something I really like.”
This story will be part of the upcoming April ’20 print issue of Men’s Folio.
Photography Asaph Low