TOKYO — A De Bethune DB27 Titan Hawk V2 wristwatch alongside a plate of fried gyoza. A Kari Voutilainen 28SC flanked by a serving of tonkatsu with accompanying soup, dipping sauce and pickles. And a Richard Mille RM016 accented with oysters in yuzu.
From his each day Instagram posts, you truly be taught extra about Chrono Peace’s assortment of greater than 600 watches — and his meals preferences — than you do in regards to the collector himself. You by no means see his face, and his actual identify is rarely disclosed.
His 14,600 Instagram followers don’t realize it, nor do readers of his common contributions to the native horology journal Power Watch. But that’s how he likes it, and he’s not alone.
The three collectors, all males, insisted on being recognized solely by their social media aliases, primarily, they stated, for security causes — though Tokyo is usually thought-about a secure metropolis. “Walking around wearing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of watches, we can’t take that risk,” stated Chrono Peace, who has been utilizing solely his alias for 3 years.
But their anonymity wasn’t just for the interview. “We even call each other by our aliases at in-person gatherings. It’s just common sense,” Chrono Peace stated, gesturing towards his buddies. “I don’t even know what they do for a living.”
The Tokyo watch collector scene is a very unique and secret world. “It’s a difficult world to enter; it’s anonymous,” stated Pierre-Yves Donzé, a professor of enterprise historical past at Osaka University’s Graduate School of Economics, who’s a specialist within the Swiss watch business and Japanese historical past. “This is explained by things specific to Japanese culture, and others that are specific to the watchmaking side.
“In Japan, when it comes to the consumption of luxury goods, Japanese are not flashy. This is the discreet side of the Japanese, and it explains this desire to remain anonymous,” he continued. “It’s the love of the watch that takes over, and the attention is paid to the product itself.”
Chrono Peace voiced comparable opinions, though he stated he believed that reticence had grow to be a part of watch collector tradition worldwide. “More and more collectors are getting famous without ever showing their faces,” he stated. “It’s the new fashionable way to communicate, and these days credibility can be built up by remaining anonymous.”
(Perhaps the best-known instance in Europe could be the collector Auro Montanari. He saved his id secret for a number of years — writing a number of books on watches below the identify John Goldberger — till he was unmasked in 2018).
But the dialogue with the three males turns, because it normally does with collectors, to watches.
Chrono Peace, a former expertise marketing consultant who would say solely that he’s in his 40s, stated he began amassing watches when he was 16 years outdated. “I took a break, then I started again 4 or 5 years ago,” he stated.
He then started constructing his recognition amongst watch lovers on Instagram, typically that includes unbiased manufacturers. “I like independent watch brands, as they’re all about the experience of wearing a watch,” he stated. Three Swiss manufacturers — Romain Gauthier, Armin Strom and Chronoswiss — confirmed their appreciation by creating limited-edition items for him.
“Chrono Peace is one of Japan’s most influential watch enthusiasts and collectors,” Serge Michel, founding father of Armin Strom, stated in an e-mail. “I’m impressed by his big passion for mechanical watches and his fascination for our unwavering commitment to horological innovation.”
Of the three customized fashions, Chrono Peace stated his favourite was the Romain Gauthier Chrono Peace Edition Insight Micro-Rotor, made solely for him in a three-piece version full with navy rubber straps and C.P. engraved on the motion. “I even decided the color: blue-plated with three different shades of blue to show the depth,” he stated. (Blue is his favourite coloration.)
The different two items, made as restricted editions, have been bought to Japanese watch fans.
Why is his fellow collector known as Jardin, the French phrase for backyard? It’s only a sound that the proprietor of a web-based promoting company favored. “I learned basic French when I was 18 years old,” he stated. “Since then, I’ve used this term as a game user or social media nickname.”
Jardin, 35, began amassing 15 years in the past and now has round 30 timepieces. “I’ve always loved mechanical things since I was little, things that aren’t battery-powered,” he stated.
But Jardin doesn’t put on watches every single day, or quite, each season. “Sweat is damaging, and vintage watches are not waterproof,” he stated. He displayed the Bordeaux-colored strap on his rose gold Vacheron Constantin Ref. 4178, relationship from the 1940s. “It’s a Jean Rousseau leather strap. They can put rubber on the back, so you can wear it in summer,” he stated — though he doesn’t try this. “Japanese summers get insanely humid.”
Jardin’s favourite piece is a Patek Philippe Ref. 2526 Tropical. “It’s the most famous Calatrava, vintage from the 1950s,” he stated. “It’s discontinued now.” He stated it was probably the most handcrafted watch that he had encountered, for the finishes and all the main points. “It’s the ultimate three-hand watch,” he stated, including that he purchased it in a classic watch retailer in Ginza, and the leather-based strap is a caramel-hued Camille Fournet.
Emilia’s spouse selected his identify, which matches that of a Final Fantasy sport character. He is 33, works in worldwide commerce, together with vehicle import and export, and commenced amassing watches solely three years in the past.
“My friend said, ‘If you love cars, maybe you would be interested in collecting watches.’ I love cars, and now I love watches, particularly those inspired by cars, like Richard Mille,” he stated. “Watches are like a car engine in a way.” His present assortment stands at 20 watches.
Aside from his favourite Richard Mille fashions — an RM 65-01 in black carbon and a mode made in white ceramic for the 2018 Le Mans Classic automotive race — Emilia treasures his Patek Philippe Minute Repeater pocket watch, which he stated was about 130 years outdated. “It’s a pocket watch Patek Philippe made for Tiffany’s,” he stated. “ found it in a vintage store in Ginza.”
With all its watch flagship shops and treasure-filled secondhand outlets, Ginza is a playground for Tokyo watch collectors. Walking alongside Namiki-dori, identified to locals as “watch street,” is like an introductory course to Swiss watch manufacturers, punctuated with Chanel and Louis Vuitton boutiques.
The retailer the place all of us met was the results of Chrono Peace’s frustration with watch gross sales. It is named Chrono Theory (in fact), and it opened in February.
“Independent brands are overpriced in Japan, sometimes by up to 150 percent compared to Swiss retail prices, and the shopping experience isn’t efficient,” he stated. “I wanted to shrink the gap, so I started Chrono Theory to rescue independent brands that are suffering from the old-fashioned Japanese distribution layers.” He doesn’t personal the enterprise however does act as a normal supervisor and inventive director.
The boutique, which additionally has a bar, carries 9 unbiased watch manufacturers (together with Konstantin Chaykin, Armin Strom and Christophe Claret) in its spaceship-inspired setting. “All the brands I carry are brands I’ve had experience with and can recommend,” Chrono Peace stated.
Right now the shop opens solely by reservation, though Chrono Peace stated he was excited about opening it to the general public in May — though, he stated, when vacationers are allowed to enter the nation once more he would revert to reservations.
Since it opened, Chrono Theory has grow to be a gathering spot for native watch devotees and it often has been the venue for themed occasions specializing in a selected model, with meals catered by neighboring eating places.
“None of us actually work in the watch industry,” Chrono Peace stated. “We never talk about our private life. Everything just revolves around watches.”