Recently, I took up an interest in photography. It was spurred by the fascination of capturing moments and the ability to print it. I used to take pictures, but only with my phone. When I printed some of them last year, I was both happy and sad. Happy to see a lot of great results, but sad to see blurs, bad exposures, and grainy results. In the end, I procured a mirrorless camera that’s easy to use, that’s not expensive, and that has a lot of lens selection for the future.

I ended up choosing the Sony A6000 + Kit Lens + f1.8/35mm lens. This writing serves me as a reminder to the key basic learning points of photography that I learned within my first 6 months with the camera that helped me take better photos.

The image below perfectly captures the first thing I learned about camera, understanding all the damn newfangled numbers on the camera screen! A quick explanation on what these are:

  1. ISO – how sensitive the film/sensor is in capturing light. This setting impacts noise & sharpness. The lower the ISO, the less sensitive it is.
  2. Aperture (F-something) – how much light goes through the lens. It impacts amount of light & depth of field. The smaller the number, the larger the aperture. The depth of field effect can create the so-called “bokkeh”
  3. Shutter Speed – how long the light will be exposed to film/sensor. A low shutter speed freezes movement, while a high shutter speed gives a movement effect in the photo. The faster it is, the more light is required in the photo. The rule of thumb to avoid shaking is to use 1/Focal length. For example, if you use a 50mm lens, then use 1/50 shutter speed. The photograph I put as the featured image on this post is taken with a 30s shutter speed where you can see the coffee staff people’s movements.

Cheatcard_85x55_300dpi_RGB_web_en_CC-BY-ND

Of course, all 3 have impacts to one another, which is captured by the Exposure Triangle below. If one of the variable changes, at least one other should also change to maintain a good exposure. Source : PhotographyLife

triangle

The next important part is about photo composition. In photography, composition is used to guide the viewer’s eyes towards the most important elements of the photo. A few basic techniques includes:

  • Leading lines – A leading line paves an easy path for the eye to follow through different elements of a photo. Usually they start at the bottom of the frame and guide the eye upwards and inwards, from the foreground of the image to the background, typically leading toward the main subject. Sample that I’ve taken that utilizes this below.

Picture1

  • Depth of field – Bringing a 3 dimensional feel to a 2 dimensional media
  • Symmetry & patterns:
    • Symmetry – the creation of an image which can be separated into two equal parts (this can be horizontally or vertically). Both of the separate parts of the image should then look same, or if not the same should look similar. This can also be seen from the above picture that left and right elements are roughly the same.
    • Pattern – repetition of an element in a photograph. This element could refer to anything; whether it is natural or manmade. This is enhanced by the fact that thought-provoking Patterns can occur when solid graphical elements such as shapes, colours, tones, and forms or lines continue to repeat themselves.
  • Perspective/viewpoint – Changing elevation when you’re taking a picture such as by kneeling can change the feel and the sense you get from a picture. A great example in the article is if you were to photograph a young student being scolded at his desk, you would likely shoot the image from a higher viewpoint—from the vantage point of the dean or principal about to assign punishment—or you would chose the lower perspective from the student’s point of view with the towering power figure looming overhead.
  • Framing – Technique of drawing attention to the subject of your image by blocking other parts of the image with something in the scene
  • Rule of third – Mentally dividing up your image using 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines, as shown below. You then position the important elements in your scene along those lines, or at the points where they meet. You can turn on the option to show these lines like below in a typical digital camera.

RuleofThird

As a buy recommendation for people who are interested to start on photography, I recommend to get a Mirrorless APS-C camera such as Sony A6000 or Fuji X-T20 and at least a tripod. After a few outings, I realized I needed a tripod to help capture movement with high shutter speed! So I procured a cheap one from Amazon to help.

Of course, with the advancement of cameras embedded in cell phones, we cannot discount the capability of phone cameras, there are a number of filters, pro mode, and apps to empower you to take great photos with your camera.

Skip this paragraph if you want to read directly about Wiki Koffie, this paragraph is gonna be back story. Today I had the chance to spend a day in Bandung! Through my whole life, this is the first time I actually have gotten the time to pick what I wanted to do and travel by myself in Bandung, and I have to say it’s liberating. Originally I intended to go to Jalan Sriwijaya (Thank you Monocle for the recommendation) for the dress shoes, but apparently, they close on Sundays. So because they’re closed, I picked to go to Braga Street, after looking around TripAdvisor. Being dropped by Uber near the start of Braga Street, I feel it’s just like Jakarta with all the traffic and motorcycle, I can just feel the smoke on my face.

So at the end of Braga street, there’s that quaint coffee shop in the intersection. From afar, I didn’t think the place was a coffee shop! But getting closer, I saw all the nice vintage furnitures inside and I decided to come in. To say the least, the place is messy. It’s so messy, I feel there’s so much to see and it becomes interesting. The only unifying theme of the cafe is the vintage feel.

IMG_0441
First thing I saw to the right of the entrance is a shelf full of knick knacks on top of it with messages and wisdoms about coffee framed neatly above it. “A cup of love” indeed my friend. Gives a nice feel to the decor!

Going inside, I decided to sit close to the window, with my back to the road so I can see the cafe and what kind of people come here. The first people I noticed was 2 girls sitting side by side with a laptop open watching a movie. Definitely the kind of relaxing vibe where you can stay for a long time.

IMG_0448

Opened in 2012, Wiki is going to be 6 years old this year! The staff shared that the place is preserved from a long time ago. Before a coffee shop, the place is a fashion boutique. I can imagine why a place like that isn’t a good fit for fashion, but a great fit for coffee and hangout. Wiki’s building is so old, that I can’t see any air conditioner installation. They rely on overhead fan to keep people cool. It works because this is Bandung. If it’s Jakarta, it’s gonna feel like I’m taking a bath due to sweat coming out.

Although they have coffee from many regions, they primarily source from Sumatra coffee, with just 2 variants coming from Java island. At this chance, I tried their Turkish Coffee. Served with bread, the taste is quite acidic, not really bitter. I can drink it easily without any sugar. With a price tag of less than 20,000 IDR (~2 SGD), I’d say it’s a bargain.

At the time, I was starving, so I ordered their “Kue Telor” (Egg cake), it’s similar to Hong Kong style egg waffle with multiple filling choices. It’s filling, tasty, fluffy, and not that expensive. The price is similar to what you’d find in Jakarta, about 17,000 IDR (~1.7 SGD). Too bad that it went to my stomach faster than my brain registering “I should take a quick photo of that”!

In conclusion, whenever you’re in Bandung and looking for a spot to just chill, I’d highly recommend this spot! Great value for money, tasty food and coffee, relaxing ambience. The only con is that there’s no aircon, so if the weather is hot, I’d probably skip this spot.

Deer, signing out!

Name Wiki Koffie
Address Jl Braga No 90, Bandung, Indonesia
Phone WhatsApp – 0878-090-90970
Office – 022-426-90970
Reservation? Yes! Only Mon-Fri though.
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Who doesn’t know Rolex? Employing between 5,000–10,000 people (According to their LinkedIn profile) , with a total revenue of about 4.7 billion USD in 2016, Rolex is the biggest independent watch brand in the world. Rolex also owns Tudor. Being a behemoth, it is safe to say that out of all luxury watch brands, Rolex is counterfeited the most, which I think also helped more and more people to be familiar with the brand.

All too often, Rolex is either overestimated or underestimated. Overestimated when, for example, someone doesn’t know anything about the watch industry. In this case, it’s common for them to know Rolex as a luxury watch, and think it’s the most expensive one. But after learning more and going more in-depth to the industry, learning about other brands such as Jaeger Le-Coutre, IWC, Hublot, then going to Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Greubel Forsey and Richard Mille, the Rolex seems to be less significant now and often underestimated.

The stigma I often hear of Rolex from my colleagues is “the old guy watch”. And they’re not wrong, in Jakarta, most Rolex I see is on the wrists of males over 40 years old. This also happens because when a distinguished executive retires/moves on from their position to a different company, they often receive a Rolex watch for their service in that company.

Is it a good idea to buy a Rolex for investment?

The quick answer is no. Rolex’s value is known worldwide, and it’s safe to say that if the situation arises, you will definitely be able to pawn it for a significant amount of money (For example, if you got robbed of your phone, wallet, and all other communication device and valuables in a city somewhere, you will be able to pawn off your Rolex for money easily). They also retain value quite well, so you won’t need to worry of a Rolex depreciating as fast as a car.

For investments, looking at the recent trend, it’s unlikely that the watches will rise in value enough for it to be called an investment due to the number of production and the price. Looking at the interest rate nowadays and other options of investments, it is safe to say that if you are buying for investment, you’d be better off looking elsewhere. But! Vintage Rolex watches might perform better, especially the iconic ones such as the pre-Daytona chronographs. These babies costed about 200 USD between 1955–1960s, and they cost upwards of 20,000 USD now.

How much is a Rolex watch?

The range of price is quite big, starting at 5,000 USD, up to around 50,000 USD. Of course there are Rolex watches above/below that price range when it’s a vintage or a limited edition. In 2013, there’s one vintage Rolex that fetched 1.1 million USD in Christie’s auction.

When should I buy a Rolex watch?

For me, the answer to this is when:

  1. From a financial perspective, you won’t be setback significantly. For example, if you need to pay in installments for 12 months and it takes about 20% of your salary each month to pay the installments, I don’t think it’s time to buy yet.
  2. You’re confident enough in your level of success in career / life
  3. You want to celebrate an achievement

From Ariel Adams of ABlogToWatch, on why people buy a Rolex watch:

People tend to want buy a Rolex for one of the following main reasons: to celebrate an achievement, to own a watch that appears to hold value, to communicate a level of career or life success, to own a luxury watch that is a simple choice, or to wear a timepiece with a lot of history.

What Rolex watch should I buy?

I’ll say if you want a new one, I recommend the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39, model 114300 2016. If you have a trusted friend/family that deals in secondhand watches, I’d recommend asking for their suggestion for a preowned Rolex in a good condition. Note the word trust, as I’ve mentioned earlier, counterfeit Rolex watches are flooding the market, and you don’t want to pay for a counterfeit one at the price of a real Rolex. A friend of mine that deals in secondhand watches said that it is possible to buy a good condition preowned Rolex watch as low as 50% of their original price if you’re lucky.

Ben Clymer’s (Hodinkee) opinion on buying your first Rolex watch hits me the most:

“I think that a vintage Rolex in particular is an excellent watch for beginning collectors for a few reasons. In fact, I would say that if one is comfortable with the brand positioning of Rolex, it is arguably the finest “first nice watch” someone can own. The reason that I would suggest vintage early in the collecting career is A) they can be had for little money, comparatively speaking, B) you get a superb, historic, and truly in-house watch from a bluechip brand, and C) it was the 1950s-70s when Rolex was really in its hey-day. In fact, I would argue that Rolex is the most important watch brand of the 20th century — their list of technical firsts is a mile long, and watches such as the 1970s Datejust (ref 1603), which very much like the modern Datejust today, can be purchased in good, original condition for $2500 (+/- depending on condition, etc.). The modern equivalent, which is very much the same watch, retails for double the price and the aging commonly found on the dial and hands give the vintage pieces a nice, elegant glow. The Datejust (or Oyster Perpetual, or Air King, etc.) is a superb everyday watch that is universally appreciated and universally acceptable — whether with a t-shirt and jeans or a suit. The cases, bracelets, and movements are of exceptional build quality and I don’t think there is a better buy for that kind of money.

I think a modern Rolex is a slightly different story, and the real benefit to buying new is if you want a true sport watch that can handle anything you throw at it. Sure, an old Submariner or GMT can be serviced to be completely water-proof, but they still have plastic crystals and 40 year old parts (here and there). A modern Rolex is built like a tank, and while they may not have some of the charm of some vintage pieces, they are truly exceptionally well-made watches. Though, I think they lack some of the charm of the early tritium and radium dials.”

The History

Let’s explore a bit about the history, and where the terms in Rolex watches come from! This short essay below will help you know just enough about the brand and their signature series.

Rolex has a long long history, dating back to 1905 when Hans Wildorf, at the age of 24, founded a company in London specializing the distribution of timepieces. They moved to Geneva in 1919 as even in that time, Geneva is renowned internationally for watch making.

I’m guessing that most of you have seen a Rolex watch before, on people’s wrists or storefronts. And it’s very likely that you have seen the word “Oyster” on the watch dial. In 1926, Rolex created the first “Oyster”, the first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch, that featured a hermetically sealed case for optimal protection. This protection is proven by Mercedes Gleitze, an English swimmer that swam across the English channel (The strait between London and Paris, where there is now a tunnel under it) in 1927, for 10 hours. After the grueling test, the watch remained in perfect order. Interestingly, this led Rolex to publish an ad in front of the Daily Mail proclaiming their waterproof watch success, and this is said to be the birth of the concept “Testimonee” or testimony.

Then after the word “Oyster”, you definitely have seen “Perpetual” engraved. In 1931, Rolex created the first self-winding mechanism with a Perpetual rotor, and is the foundation for every automatic watch in the world now. Both of these words mark most Rolex you see in the market, the “Oyster Perpetual” collection that Rolex usually refreshes every couple of years.

To all of you who wears an automatic watch, do you have a date window in it? It’s so common to see a date windows in a watch nowadays rather than time only, and we have Rolex to thank for that too! In 1945, they created the first “Datejust”, the first self‑winding wrist chronometer to indicate the date in a window on the dial.

The 1950s were a period of great innovation for Rolex. In this period, they released the “Explorer” (Celebrating the Oyster Perpetual that was worn by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in reaching the peak of Mt Everest), “Submariner” (First diver’s watch waterproof to a depth of 100 meters, and the bezel is used to let divers now their immersion time), “GMT-Master” (Developed to meet the needs of pilots), “Day-Date” (Further developing from Datejust, the Day-Date displays the date AND the day of the week on the dial), “Milgauss” (Designed to meet European Organization for Nuclear Research’s needs of a watch able to withstand magnetic fields of up to 1,000 Gauss), and lastly, the lady version of “Datejust”.

Then in 1963, Rolex created the first “Daytona” watch, designed as the ultimate tool for endurance racing drivers, the Cosmograph Daytona was robust, waterproof and featured a tachymetric scale on the bezel for calculating average speed. Unfortunately, the early reception for Daytona watch was lukewarm as it is different from what people like in that time. The earliest Daytona is now considered a rarity and fetches a hefty price. Paul Leonard Newman (January 26, 1925 — September 26, 2008) was an American actor. Despite being colorblind, Newman won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing, and his race teams won several championships in open wheel IndyCar racing. He was also an ambassador for Rolex, and he is said to wore Daytona everyday from 1972 up to his death in 2008. Rolex even created special Daytona for him, dubbed “Paul Newman Daytona” nowadays, and these goes for over 20,000 USD in auctions. Of course, I need to warn you that there are more fakes than originals, and you’ll need to be very careful in buying these.

After the “Submariner”, Rolex released another divers’ watch for up to 610 meters, which is dubbed the “Sea-Dweller” in 1967. Unfortunately, after that, the quartz crisis hit the Swiss watch industry (You can read a little bit on it in my previous post about the Swiss watch industry). Rolex’s cash reserve and loyal fanbase were very helpful for Rolex to weather the storm in the next 2 decades.

In 1992, Rolex reinforces their ties with the sailing world with the release of “Yacht Master” series, and in 2007, they released the “Yacht Master 2”.

And last, recently Rolex released the “Deepsea” (2008, designed for extreme underwater exploration can go deeper than all but a few purpose-built research submersibles, and more than 100 times beyond the depth that any human could physically survive), and “Sky-Dweller” (2012, intended for world travelers, it offers a dual time zone with a particularly innovative annual calendar named Saros — in tribute to the astronomical phenomenon which inspired it — that requires only one date adjustment a year. To set its functions quickly and easily, it is also equipped with a new interface: the rotatable Ring Command bezel.)

To end this piece, I’d like to say that as a behemoth of the watch industry, Rolex is respected all around the world and continuous to innovate their offerings. They pander to a lot of different segments, is seen as a status symbol, and almost everyone knows of their value. For watch collectors, it’s almost a definite that they have at least 1 Rolex in their collection, and personally, I’m looking forward to adding one to mine when the time is right.

References

Watches pictures and history from Rolex.com

Twelve mistakes new watch guys make

Guide to buying your first Rolex

Last year, when I was going out with a friend of mine in Bangkok, we stumbled upon an area in Siam Paragon where they sell a lot of luxury watches. It was great to see a number of them at the same place, and we visited a couple few just to look around the collection. After a few stores, my friend asked me “Hey Chris, why do you like watches? What’s the difference between all those expensive watches?” and I realized that a lot of my peers who are born in the digital era doesn’t know the history of watches, why they can be appealing, and what the industry is like. That’s the reason why I made this piece, not to give an in depth watch analysis, but to give a quick background to the watch industry, especially the Swiss.

Let’s start in the beginning. The first watch that was ever created was the Pomander Watch. It is the oldest mechanical watch that’s recorded in history, created by Peter Henlein (1485–1542) in Nuremberg, Germany. Ever since then, mechanical watches grown, got more complex, and also often times is a sign of nobility and wealth. The mechanical watch industry then proceeded to dominate the watch industry for more than 100 years.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. In 1969, the first quartz watch is released by Seiko, the Seiko 35 SQ Astron. Quartz watches are the world’s most accurate wristwatch, and in comparison to mechanical watches, is much cheaper to produce. This started the quartz revolution, that destroyed the dominance of the mechanical wristwatch industry.

In 1983, the crisis in Swiss watch industry reached a critical point. The number of watchmakers decreased heavily from 1600 in 1970 to 600 in 1983. A research consortium, the Swiss ASUAG group was formed to save the industry, and the result is the Swatch. Surprising isn’t it? The Swatch that we all think is just a fun cheap watch, is the savior to Swiss watch industry. The Swatch grown and gave rise to what is now called the Swatch Group, the largest watch manufacturer in the world.

In spite of that, it took 14 long years before the Swiss watch industry made a comeback. In 1997, over half the value of all watches sold worldwide is generated by the Swiss watch industry, and although only 10% of the watches sold was mechanical, the mechanical watches account for nearly half of the total value generated in the Swiss watch industry.

It’s worth to note that in 2013, Swatch released a watch series they call Sistem 51. It’s a mechanical self-winding watch that only uses 51 parts, factory manufactured, 100% swiss made, and costed less than 200 USD. This provided a good entrypoint to Swiss made watches that is cheap and can be mass produced. At the time, this watch is thought to bring a new revolution in Swiss made mechanical watches.

And in 2014, smartwatches come to the spotlight as Apple released the Apple Watch. In hindsight, people are worried of the smart watch impact to the Swiss watch industry. The Swiss watch industry responded with their own take of smartwatches, such as TAG Heuer Connected, and Breitling Exospace B55. But alas, in 2016 we see that smartwatches dominance doesn’t come to be, and we even see players that are backing out from the smartwatch altogether, namely Motorola and Samsung.

Now, after a brief history, I’d like to share a little bit on the current landscape of the industry. You might know a lot of watch brands, to name a few, Rolex, Panerai, Omega, IWC Schaffhausen, Patek Philippe, TAG Heuer, Seiko. But what you might not know is that a lot of these brands are owned by the same group. In this piece, I will share a few of the biggest groups around :

1. Swatch Group (Switzerland)
Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Harry Winston, Jaquet Droz, Omega, Léon Hatot, Longines, Rado, Union Glashütte, Tissot, Calvin Klein, Balmain, Certina, Mido, Hamilton, Swatch, Flik Flak

2. Richemont Group (Switzerland)
Vacheron Constantin, A. Lange & Söhne, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Roger Dubuis, Piaget, IWC Schaffhausen, Officine Panerai, Ralph Lauren, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Montblanc, Dunhill

3. LVMH Group (France)
TAG Heuer, Bulgari, Hublot, Zenith, Dior, Fred, Chaumet, Louis Vuitton

4. Kering Group (France)
Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux, JeanRichard, Gucci, Boucheron, Qeelin, Bottega Veneta

5. Seiko Group (Japan)
Seiko, Grand Seiko, Credor, Pulsar, Lorus, Alba, Orient

6. Fossil Group (USA)
Fossil, Relic, Michele, Zodiac, Skagen, Adidas, Burberry, Diesel, DKNY, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs, Emporio Armani, Emporio Armani Swiss Made, Armani Exchange, Karl Lagerfeld

Outside those groups, then we have the independent watch brands, they’re not at all small, some of them are actually behemoths of the industry. In this category, we have for example, Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Manufacture Royale, Richard Mille, and Greubel Forsey.

Watches have a very broad range of prices, some of my friends told me “You know, if I have a Rolex, I must be very rich as it’s the most expensive watch.” Not quite my friend, not quite. Watches can go as high as millions of USD, and Rolex actually have a great range starting from around 5k USD. Compare that with Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, that starts at around 16k USD, and Greubel Forsey that starts at 150k USD. As you can see, the price range is extreme, and it’s a good idea for people that’s doing business to know the basics of price and class of the watch.

In 2016, the top selling watch brands are:
1. Rolex
2. Hublot
3. Casio
4. Citizen
5. Tag Heuer
6. Seiko
7. Omega
8. Montblanc
9. Bulova
10. Hamilton

Then, let’s go a little bit on what kind of watches there are. In general, there are 4types of watches:
1. Quartz watches
Typically the cheapest kind, easy to mass produce, and is sometimes called the watch with “battery”. Left alone, quartz watch can work for a very long time without ever stopping. A well-made one can work for 20–25 years without a lot of maintenance, only battery replacements. It is also very accurate.

2. Mechanical watches — Manual wound
This is starting to be a bit rare, and is seen in high end watches such as Panerai. This watch needs to be wound manually by spinning the crown, and can reserve power until around 3 days. The most high end one can have a power reserve of upwards of 10 days. Needs maintenance every 2–4 years.

3. Mechanical watches — Self-winding
This one is what people typically means when they say “automatic” watch. This kind of watch is powered by kinetic movement (by moving, shaking, or generally just wearing the watch for the day). Although convenient, the power reserve typically doesn’t go over 100 hours, which means if you don’t wear it for 4 days, the watch will stop. Needs maintenance every 2–4 years.

4. Smartwatches
Not a lot of explanation needed, these watches are like mini computers on your wrist and can usually be connected to your phone. Made popular by Pebble and Apple Watch, Swiss luxury brands such as TAG Heuer and Breitling are also going in the trend with TAG Heuer Connected and Breitling Exospace B55. Typical issue is the battery life, and how good the added functionality is.

Last, on why people buy luxury watches. It’s very unlikely that people now buy watches just to tell time, as we’re accustomed to smartphones and having clocks wherever we go. The typical reasons to buy watches is usually one of these:
1. Fashion
2. To be taken seriously
3. To be unique
4. Investment
5. Subtle display of wealth / status
6. Loving the intrinsic complications
7. Adventure gadget — Think of diving watches, gshocks
8. Story of the watch — Think of the Omega Speedmaster that is also known as the moonwatch because it’s the watch that is worn by astronauts to the moon
9. Collection

To end this piece, I would like to say that watches have evolved through time from a device to tell the time, to a statement of oneself shown through the wrist.

P.S : If you want a recommendation on watches to buy, I’d recommend to first think of:
1. The budget you are willing to spend
2. Whether Swiss-made is important for you
3. The purpose of the watch (Business use, Casual, Adventure)
Then you can use the information to search for a good fit

P.P.S : My personal favorites:
< 1,000 USD : Orient Symphony, Orient Sun & Moon, Seiko 5, Swatch Sistem51, Casio G-Shock Rangeman
< 1,500 USD : Dietrich, SevenFriday P-series or V-series
< 3,000 USD : TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 5 series, Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Quartz
Luxury watches entry : Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39, model 114300 2016, Omega Speedmaster Professional series, Panerai PAM000