Millennial collector: Vihari Poddar loves collecting rare watches

Vihari Poddar, 32

Jeweller Vihari Poddar is always on the lookout for uncommon watches. “I seem to always want the ones that can’t be found anywhere. When my family and I travel, I will stop at every watch boutique hoping to find the ones on my list. It is always a wild goose chase and it can get tedious for my family, but thank God for their patience.”

The society darling, who is managing director (and designer) of her namesake atelier Vihari Jewels, admits that her tastes have evolved from when she first started collecting watches for their aesthetics. “I started off collecting watches as fashion accessories, especially those I found aesthetically appealing or trendy. Now, I am starting to appreciate rarer and more investment-worthy pieces.”

She fondly recalls her childhood days, when she lovingly wound her father’s old Patek Philippe timepieces. “I took an interest in my father’s collection and wanted to have my own one day, when I could afford it. When I was 18, I got my first watch together with my father: An all-white Hublot Big Bang. This was back when the brand was first introduced to Asia.”

Today, she has a collection of over 20 pieces, which runs the gamut from diamond-set ladies pieces from Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre, to more masculine pieces, like the ultra-rugged, automatic Panerai Radiomir, several of which are gifts from her husband and father.

Which is your favourite watch complication?

I find extended power reserve very useful since I change among my watches very frequently, and it helps when they don’t need to be wound too often. I also like having additional time zone displays, and the perpetual calendar.

Why do you think mechanical watchmaking is still relevant today?

There is a certain timelessness in handmade articles. Modern technology often becomes obsolete within a year, and most don’t last beyond two. Every year, there’s a new iPhone, and everyone wants the latest model. But a great watch can last you a lifetime, and sometimes, several generations after. As a jeweller, I understand very well the nuances and value of meticulous handcrafts, which some watches are.

What is your view on vintage pieces?

It depends on the piece. For example, the Daytona no longer comes fitted with the modified Zenith El Primero movement, so that adds to its rarity in today’s context. I do love the new Daytonas, but I would not mind buying a vintage piece, provided that its condition is excellent.

HER COLLECTION

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona
This was a lovely 30th birthday surprise that came along with a Birkin bag from my adorable husband, Abhishek. He knew how much I loved it on Victoria Beckham’s wrist.

From left: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona, and Patek Phillippe Aquanaut. (Photo: Simon Sim)

Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier
This was a wedding gift from my parents – it is super precious to me.

Audemars Piguet Millenary
This was my very first watch purchase with my own money! I still remember strolling along Orchard and walking into The Hour Glass. I couldn’t take my eyes off its partially skeletonised movement and its unique look, and it was an instinctive purchase.

From left: Hublot Big Bang St. Moritz Chronograph, and Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona. (Photo: Simon Sim)

Patek Phillippe Aquanaut
My husband and I were in Basel for work during our first anniversary and he surprised me with this beautiful classic.

Hublot Big Bang St. Moritz Chronograph
This was the very first watch my dad bought for me, when Hublot first opened their flagship in Kuala Lumpur about 16 years ago. We were having lunch with my dad’s friend and Felipe Massa, when he told me how nice my watch was. I was so shy when he complimented me, as I had a little crush on him then [laughs].

Art direction: Clementinus Liem
Photography: Simon Sim
Makeup Keith Bryant Lee using Lancome
Hair: Edward Chong using Kevin Murphy
Location: The Grande Whisky Collection

A version of this story first appeared in Adore 2019 Magazine, now out in leading bookstores and on Magzter. 

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