I’ve executed nearly all of my classic watch purchasing at Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market, a large assortment of tented stalls that promote every thing from unique wildlife to artisanal cleaning soap. That market taught me extra about classic watches than any web site or journal.
I visited a couple of dozen classic watch sellers bi-weekly after I lived in Thailand, from 2010-2016, and over time, they began to know my style and put watches apart for me. Every time they’d ask what I used to be on the lookout for although, I would inform them the identical factor: The elusive Seiko Yellow Monster. A 300-piece restricted version that was launched on the Bangkok Truthful in 2004; I’ve liked it since I noticed it on the boards in 2006.
It had every thing a neophyte collector may ask for: It was similar to the Orange and Black Monsters that I owned and liked, besides it featured a vibrant main yellow dial with “LIMITED EDITION” in vibrant purple, together with a cyclops over the date. Inside was a 7S36, a motion analogous to the workhorse 7S26, however with 23 jewels as an alternative of 21. A part of the attraction was the all-capital distinction of getting “LIMITED EDITION” prominently displayed in alarming purple textual content. Again then, understanding you had a restricted watch wasn’t any enjoyable until everybody else knew you had a limited-edition watch, too.
Earlier than I moved to Bangkok and began on the lookout for the watch in earnest, I noticed them come up on the market on the boards each every now and then. First they have been listed for simply over a thousand dollars within the mid-aughts, then a 12 months or two later for about $2,000. This was throughout a time when a typical orange or black monster was roughly $200. The Yellow Monster was a grail of mine, however greater than a grand for a 7S26-based Seiko? No means.
After I did transfer, I foolishly assumed that being in Thailand would permit me to bypass any digital platforms and simply purchase the watch straight from one of many stalls I visited. Thailand’s watch accumulating scene nonetheless relied closely on in-person buying and selling and had shifted over to digital solely not too long ago. Possibly I would snag a Yellow Monster earlier than it ever hit the Web.
By 2012, Seiko was clearly taking the Monster in a brand new path, with the second technology “Fang” dial, signaling mannequin just like the Yellow Monster was on its means out. Even earlier than the introduction of the “softened” second-generation Monsters, the “Basic Monster” restricted editions began to turn into idiosyncratic and thematically obtuse for my style. The “Zamba” with its PVD case and multi-color indices gave approach to the second-generation restricted version “Solar Monster,” with a evident solar motif on the dial. Seiko took the restricted version Monsters in a path removed from the strong and succesful platform traits that made it top-of-the-line worth buys within the early aughts.
The extra the Monster developed, the extra enticing the Yellow Monster turned. Abruptly, a few thousand bucks did not appear completely unreasonable. Nonetheless, in 2016, I left Thailand with no Yellow Monster.
After I returned to Bangkok earlier this 12 months, the watch scene at Chatuchak Weekend Market was completely decimated by Covid-19. I wandered across the once-bustling market and located only one open stall with Seikos, and I made positive to ask him if he had a Yellow Monster, only for the heck of it. He did not.
I meandered additional by way of the market, previous the pulled-down doorways of the outlets that had gone digital or gone away, to a small store promoting new Seikos. With nothing to lose, I figured I would shoot my shot. “Do you may have a Yellow Monster?” I requested. After being advised “no” lots of of occasions, it was virtually a joke, however it additionally turned a routine.
The vendor behind the counter leaned in and advised me to return round to the opposite aspect of his stall and look ahead to a minute. The small glass show case to the aspect of his store was full of uncommon Seikos relationship again to the mid-2000s.
I used to be about to get fortunate.
One other store proprietor named New emerged with a black cardboard field in-hand, and he gently put it on the show case in entrance of me. He opened up the field and inside was a brand new outdated inventory Yellow Monster, full with the hangtags and all of the paperwork. I used to be completely beside myself. In spite of everything these years of looking out, the watch that haunted my goals was in entrance of me and the one factor separating us was a big sum of cash. The attention-grabbing bit in regards to the Yellow Monster is which you could’t go browsing to a pre-owned watch web site and discover one, even whether it is overpriced. There merely are too few of them that come up on the market.
“So how a lot would you like for this unhealthy boy?” I requested.
“248,000 baht,” New mentioned.
I did a fast psychological calculation and thought to myself, “No means, that may’t be. That is greater than seven grand USD!” My first intuition was that the vendor misspoke and meant one thing nearer to $800. All of us make errors like that.
However this wasn’t certainly one of them. He did certainly need $7,962. He typed the determine in Thai Baht out on the calculator and confirmed it to me to substantiate.
I requested New why he was charging a lot for the watch and he identified that it’s quantity 168, and particular to Chinese language collectors. Curious, I gave it a fast Google. “168” is pronounced in Catonese as “yi lieu ba,” which sounds similar to “yi lu fa,” that means “one path to prosperity.” Within the Chinese language custom, it is believed that proudly owning issues with this quantity will carry you nice fortune and luck.
However my very own luck had run out. Except a bag full of $5,000 fell from the sky at that very second, it was simply far more than I used to be prepared to pay. However one thing else occurred after I put the watch on my wrist; one thing I wasn’t essentially anticipating.
After lastly holding it in my palms in spite of everything these years, I used to be unexpectedly turned off by the watch. The “LIMITED EDITION” on the dial felt like a sports activities automobile from the ’80s that wore a badge that mentioned “gas injected” or “computerized transmission.” My tastes in most issues have developed since ‘06, although my appreciation for pop punk from the era actually hasn’t waned, so why wouldn’t my style in watches? Most trendy watches I personal are comparatively subdued, and this was simply sufficiently old for me to nonetheless contemplate it trendy, however too younger for me to get pleasure from sporting one thing so vibrant and flashy, like I might a scotchlite-dial dive watch from the ’60s or ’70s.
I handed it again and walked away.
I’m not going to faux that the large asking value wasn’t the primary cause, however I’d merely outgrown the watch. Searching one down was way more thrilling than truly having it on my wrist. The watch got here to signify a time in my life and a time in my accumulating journey as an alternative of one thing that I would truly put on.
I got here to understand that I hadn’t actually been on the lookout for the look ahead to all these years – I’d been attempting to recapture that infectious pleasure of discovering watches, devouring obscene quantities of data on the web, researching obscure restricted editions from faraway lands, and connecting with others who have been doing the identical factor.
I’ll have finally handed on the watch, however I had a ton of enjoyable looking for it. The “new me” is aware of that possession is overrated, anyway. Creating a relationship – an obsession even – with a watch that you do not personal appears unhealthy at first, however when you come round to understanding watch is solely a vessel for one thing bigger, it is simply as simple to get pleasure from it from afar. However hell, that does not imply I would not purchase a Yellow Monster for the proper value right this moment. Let me know for those who’d prefer to make a deal.