The Beauty in Everything – Mark Cho from The Armoury's Collection for Sale at Phillips

The Beauty in Everything – Mark Cho from The Armoury's Collection for Sale at Phillips

Regular readers here and those with an eye on the modern sartorial greats will be acutely aware of The Armoury, a mecca for the modern urban sophisticate that demands the best cut clothes in either Hong Kong or New York. Behind the brand is a man whose taste has been the driving for behind The Armoury, and his passion for his beloved brand has led him to the decision to sell almost his entire watch collection. Mark Cho is working with Phillips to auction 66 of his watches to enable him to expand his New York boutique. Those wondering what Cho’s watch collection might look like can now get an insight into the man’s horological tastes. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

Mark Cho
Mark Cho

Those that know Cho, will already be aware that his horological assemblage is more than simply a pile of watches, but a meticulously curated collection with a significant amount of thought and love behind it. So passionate is he about these pieces that he has created a dedicated website telling the stories of some of the watches and showcasing his talent for styling and documenting his cherished tickers. You can visit it here. The collection truly has something for everybody. Classic Rolex, modern-classic indies, Cartier, Patek…it’s a veritable who’s who of watchmaking, and importantly, the quality is high. In the current market, which is facing some challenges, quality has never been so important. Cho has also promised that every winning bidder can choose a bespoke garment from the Armoury. What are you waiting for? Go register!

Povey’s Picks

This is a big watch collection by most standards, and I would urge you to peruse the entire catalogue. The sale is online only, and at the time of writing, having only been online for a few hours, almost all the lots have bids on them. Some over the high estimate and others well on the way.

Special Editions

Lot 8043: Baltic, made in collaboration with Revolution and The Rake
Lot 8043: Baltic, made in collaboration with Revolution and The Rake
Lot 8016: Bulgari Ref. BGO 43C XT CHGMT
Lot 8016: Bulgari Ref. BGO 43C XT CHGMT
Lot 8049: Habring² X SJX, Circa 2021
Lot 8049: Habring² X SJX, Circa 2021
Lot 8061: Swatch, Circa 2018
Lot 8061: Swatch, Circa 2018

One of the hottest trends in recent years is the special edition. Whether a media company, retailer, artist or personality, brands are enjoying working with external partners to create cool editions of their watches. Revolution is no stranger to this process, and one of Revo’s most successful features in the sale, the Baltic Bicompax Pulso (Lot 8043), with cool salmon dial, pulsometer scale on a lovely 36mm case. The edition of 250 pieces sold out quickly and is a hot ticket on the pre-owned market. This is an opportunity to grab one! Sticking with Revo, Cho also acquired a Bulgari Octo Finissimo “Nuclear Option” (Lot 8016), the 30-piece edition of the ultra-slim chronograph in black ceramic with full-blown lume dial. Another interesting special edition was the collaboration between Habring and SJX Watches. The Erwin Star (Lot 8049) is a steel time-only watch in a 38mm case with awesome blue dial and applied star hour markers. A horological icon, star dials are hugely collectable and this one-of-fifty, numbered “3”, will no doubt perform well. Finally, at the fun end of the spectrum is a Damian Hirst Mickey Mouse Swatch (Lot 8061). I remember the day these came out and the mayhem that followed. Cho is offering one of the Mirror Spot Mickey, with the well-known character made up from different shape ‘spots’ on a mirrored background. It’s a fun watch, made in a limited edition of 19999 pieces. Don’t be fooled by the high number though, these are very desirable.

Nearly Newman

Lot 8033: Nivada Grenchen Ref. 86018
Lot 8033: Nivada Grenchen Ref. 86018

Nivada watches are enjoying a real renaissance of late. One watch from the brand’s history is the exotic dial chronograph. Thought to be made in very few examples, arguably the most interesting element of those vinatge watches was the Singer dial that shares some of the details of the Rolex Daytona so-called Paul Newman dials. The chronograph registers have the same fonts and square lollipop markers as the Newmans, with the right dial having similarities to the prototype Yachtmaster, owned by Eric Clapton and John Goldberger. Cho is selling a 2021 re-edition of the Chronomaster Exotic (Lot 8033) with reverse panda dial and original Valjoux 23 calibre.

Rolex Gets Stoned

Lot 8034: Rolex Ref. 18038
Lot 8034: Rolex Ref. 18038
Lot 8035: Rolex Ref. 16234
Lot 8035: Rolex Ref. 16234
Lot 8036: Rolex Ref. 17013
Lot 8036: Rolex Ref. 17013

There are half a dozen Rolex in the sale. All lovely and cool examples. There is a trio of blue-dialled watches that fall into the dressier side of the brands outs put. A yellow gold vintage Day-Date (Lot 8034) with unusual matte blue dial with applied Roman hours, an Osyterquartz Datejust in two-tone with blue Soleil dial (Lot 8036) and, my favourite, (Lot 8035) a steel Datejust with white gold fluted bezel and sodalite dial. Of my entire watch journey, selling my reference 16234, the same as the offered lot, with sodalite dial and diamond hours is maybe my biggest regret. These watches are utterly wearable and feel special without the merest hint of ostentatious bling. This is a great watch and recent results for these have been super strong.

Time Only Omegas

Lot 8054: Omega, Circa 1939
Lot 8054: Omega, Circa 1939
Lot 8055: Omega Ref. CK 2112
Lot 8055: Omega Ref. CK 2112

I remember when my friends Roberto Randazzo and Bernhard Bulang were obsessed with 1940s and 50s time-only Omegas. These Calatrava-style watches were awesome and very much under the radar and accessible; true connoisseurs’ timepieces. It was no surprise to me, therefore, to see that mark Cho has some in his collection. Of the three in the sale, my favourite is a 1939 manual wind example with an interesting dial with large sub-seconds (Lot 8054). One of the most desirable elements of these watches is the size, with some measuring a whopping 38mm. Nothing today, but in the 1940s this was huge, considering most watches were 31-32mm. Size isn’t everything to Cho though, as Lot 8055 is a reference CK2112 that measures 30mm. Small, but ever so sweet!

Perpetually Patek

Lot 8001: Patek Philippe Ref. 3940
Lot 8001: Patek Philippe Ref. 3940
Lot 8007: Patek Philippe Ref. 3800/001
Lot 8007: Patek Philippe Ref. 3800/001

The reference 3940 has always been one of my favourite Pateks, thanks to its classic styling and perfectly balanced dial layout. Cho chose a first series watch, identified through the sunken sub-dials and wide signature. Lot 8001 has a German calendar and I prefer the clean, line-free leap year indicator in this iteration. Keeping with Patek, Lot 8007 is a Nautilus, but one that, as you would expect from the owner, is a little different. The reference 3800 is a smaller version of the sporty watch, measuring 37mm. It’s a great fit on the wrist and a neat alternative to its Jumbo sibling. The dial of this watch is the star, with a rare grey sunburst finish with white hand-painted minute markers. It really sets the watch off and would be a great talking point for those that take a closer look when it’s on your wrist.

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Ross Povey

Ross Povey, the founder of TudorCollector.com is regarded as the world’s leading expert on vintage Tudor watches. Although an expert on Rolex and Tudor watches primarily, Ross’s work covers the entire field of horology and he is currently Editor-in-Chief of Revolution magazine in the UK. He writes for and has contributed to some of the most influential horological publications, including; The Telegraph, The Rake, Bulang & Sons, Watchonista, Hodinkee, QP and is the co-author of the book Daytona Perpetual, a celebration of the automatic Rolex Daytona released through Pucci Papaleo Editore. Ross is also an international speaker and regularly hosts watch events in the UK and Europe.

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