During the day, Andy is a sharp-dressed businessman, but come sundown he’s a gym-loving, whisky-drinking major watch nerd. Although he loves watches of all shapes and sizes, he has a particular penchant for one specific brand…
NAME: Andy Zhang
OCCUPATION: Businessman & Watch Nerd
LOCATION: SYD, AU
Hey Andy, how do you unwind?
Well, I’m a workaholic but I do love a well-balanced lifestyle. That means hard-core gym sessions, balanced out with lots of whisky and cigars. Normally I go to the gym to relax and get rid of the stress from the office. Afterwards I read up on watch news to keep up to date with the industry. I love researching brands, and discovering what they do differently to create value and demand for their watches. Sometimes, if it is a seriously long day, I’ll play some jazz music and grab a glass of Japanese whisky.
So, what’s your daily watch and why?
At the moment my daily ‘beater’ is also my ‘one watch’, and it’s the Richard Mille RM35-01 Rafael Nadal. For me, it’s such a perfect watch, and extremely comfortable to wear – it’s super scratch-resistant and light. I wear my RM35-01 at work, in the kitchen, and even at the gym while doing some heavy lifting.
What else is in your collection?
I’ve been collecting for quite a while, so my collection includes such brands as Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Panerai, Patek Philippe, A.Lange & Söhne, Omega, Vacheron Constantin and Richard Mille.
Some of my favourite pieces include my A.Lange & Söhne Datograph, Zeitwerk and Lange 1. My Audemars Piguet 15407t Double Balance Royal Oak and QEII offshore 44mm. My Richard Mille RM35-01 and Richard Mille RM11-03 titanium, my Panerai PAM579 and PAM604 Firenze, as well my Rolex Hulk and incoming Ceramic Daytona.
I always start with signature pieces of the brand then move on to more exclusive and interesting editions that catch my eye.
What’s that next piece you’re looking buy?
It will be another Richard Mille, something that has special case material and bright colour. I’m keeping this a secret for now, though.
What do you look for, in terms of criteria, when buying a watch?
That’s a good question, and I have some pretty humble views when it comes to choosing watches. Firstly, I always consider the brand – everything nowadays is about marketing, isn’t it?
It also depends on which particular ‘special features’ and complications I’m after. Whether that be a carbon TPT case of a Richard Mille, or a chronograph movement in a Lange Datograph. This then extends to materials, and the overall design. And, of course, we can’t forget the dial! Personally, I love darker-coloured dials – greys, blues and blacks.
Other than that, customer service is very import to me, as is secondary market value and the historical significance of the piece – and where it fits within the brand’s heritage.
Let’s talk about your latest purchase, the RM11-03 – what’s the story here? Has it been something you’ve been after for a while now?
I’m lucky enough to be good friends with the brand manager of Richard Mille in China. He’s a passionate guy who grew up with the brand, and does a great job selling it. When we met, I already owned my RM35-01, and was bitten by the Richard Mille virus.
So, when RM11-03 came out as novelty, I couldn’t take my eyes off it – the titanium model had me! The case of RM11-03 titanium looks fantastic in real life. It really needs to be seen in person to be truly appreciated – it’s a testament to the incredible case-polishing work done by RM. They really know how to do it right – so when I had the chance to buy one, I pulled the trigger.
This is your second RM, and you’re working on a third. What is it you love about Richard Mille?
That’s a very interesting question, as many of my friends know me as a traditional conservative collector.
Without sounding mono-brand biased, Richard Mille is not a ‘traditional’ watch brand at all. I prefer to call it a ‘scientific brand’ or ‘high-end luxury brand’. You see, the way Richard leads the brand is so unique that it could barely be copied. They have very wide product lines, with every single watch having a very specific customer base. They hire their staff not only from within the traditional watch industry but also from lots of other scientific areas. Their R&D team is one of the best in the world, with every detail meticulously thought out.
From sapphire cases to carbon NTPT case (and ridiculous price tags), the way RM sells their products is totally different compared to other brands. Usually, you would expect a top watchmaker starting their own brand (‘the independents’) to focus predominantly on movement finishings. But Richard, again, damn it, did it a different way. He is more like a pioneer who was brave enough to bring unique materials and designs into the industry. I heard a lot of friends criticising this brand, but mainly on it price tag, nothing else.
The more I get to know the brand, the more I love it and my fascination grows. It brings back my passion and excitement about watches, after having experienced so many other brands.
How would you describe your collection? You seem to enjoy two very different brands – Richard Mille and A.Lange. What do you think the two have in common?
I think my collection is mental – it’s very diversified. I feel blessed that I started a heavy-duty A.Lange & Söhne collection, which I share with few friends in the biggest A.Lange fan group (#LangeNation) on Instagram – I’ve also since founded #MilleNation.
Obviously, these two brands are VERY different. However, I think they share the same ‘wearable uniqueness’. Both brands have very distinguishable design qualities, unique to their respective brands. They’re both also extremely wearable – and once you manage to try one on, you quickly realise they are a few of the most wearable brands in current industry.