My name is B. H. Chua. In 1986, at a garage sale, I saw and bought several old steel Rolex watches. It was my first encounter with vintage Rolex watches and I was truly fascinated with the timepieces, especially the ageing dials which gave the watches a characteristic charm that new watches lacked. Over time, I began to source for more old watches from the local antique stores and flea markets. In those days, a gold bubble back would have stirred quite delirious excitement amongst the many local dealers and collectors. The following years saw several major Indian watch dealers flocking to Singapore with plastic bags full of vintage watches including Rolex bubble backs, cushions, Princes etc….
The craze for old watches was getting feverish in Singapore with overseas dealers coming to Singapore to buy and sell their pieces. Many watches that surfaced then were seen for the first time and information about such time pieces was indeed scarce. In view of the dearth of information, I subscribed to Sotheby’s auction catalogues and requested friends in overseas to buy and send me all the watch books that were available then. After some time, my collection reached a point where I needed to sell some of the more common pieces. Gold bubble backs were becoming quite common in my collection and at one time, I had a box full of them. As my contacts with watch dealers and collectors became more extensive, I was offered more watches than I could buy.
In 1992, I set up a watch boutique, dealing in fine and rare watches - new and vintage. Over the years, I had worked and helped many collectors to build up extensive and impressive collections consisting of rare exquisite pieces. I had a complete set of Rolex Oyster Moonphase ref. no. 6062 with star dials consisting of a yellow gold, a pink gold and a steel. A Japanese collector who bought it, took the watches to M/S Rolex, Geneve and was told that only 2 examples of ref. 6062 in steel with star dial were produced. It was one of two sets known to be in existence and the other set is in the collection of another Japanese collector.
Many rare watches passed through my hand and being a dealer, sometimes, with much regret and reluctance, I had to sell, due to various reasons-persistent requests by regular customers to purchase them etc. Many times, I was asked this question," How did you manage to get all these rare watches?" I borrowed the answer from a watch book," I paid tomorrow's prices".
I have closed my shop some years back and this website is maintained as a contact point for customers who may need help for watches purchased from me previously. It is also my desire to share with all collectors- my Collection of Chinese Antiques and other Collections. Any comment on any of my Collections is much appreciated. If you have an interesting item, I may be interested to buy to add it to my collection or if you like any of my items, we can do an exchange.
My Dream - Private Museum
It is every major collector's dream to have a private museum to house and display his collections permanently, sharing it with people of same interest. Over the years, I have collected many thousands of items and it is my desire too to share with collectors of various fields to exchange knowledge.
Every collection is an adventure with many pitfalls and a learning process. I have completed several major adventures, the recent one is a large collection of Chinese paintings.
Many memories cannot be bought with money but some can. Whatever fond memories that I have had in my earlier phase of life, I try to relive it again.
During my many business trips to Japan, I spent my free time visiting museums and sword shops admiring the beauty of the samurai swords.
Whilst in the process of preparing for the private museum, I have decided to make Japanese Swords part of my dream.
Japanese Sword is a very difficult subject and nobody can claim to be an absolute expert. Even buying an expensive sword with a Juyo (Important sword) certificate can turn out to be a bad purchase.
In feudal Japan, the custom of adding a big named smith's signature onto a cheaper sword to enhance its value if the gift was meant for an important person like a Daimyo or the Shogun.
From the Totokusho (registration paper) of the swords, those that were registered in Showa 26, some in 27, mainly belonged to some important collections of some Daimyo or the Shogunate.
However, many of these swords have failed morden day shinsa and were considered as Gimei or faked name.
Gimei is part of Japanese 1,000 year sword history and the quality is usually very good with nice koshirae ( mounting).
If the fake name is removed and resubmit for shinsa, in most cases, if it is a genuine Japanese sword without fatal flaws, it would get a certificate attributing it to some smith. Sometimes, it could be attributed to a currently much sought after smith who was not popular during the time of gifting...for example, a Shizu was reattributed to Kiyomaro whose signature was removed as he was not so popular and valuable as Shizu at time of gifting.
In future, I would welcome serious collector of all kinds of swords to contact me for a private viewing and to exchange views but at this moment in time, due to security reason, I could only entertain International known Japanese sword collectors or specialist who can help to provide advice.
Till later, when I am able to acquire a properly secured place to house and permanently display all my collections, kindly enjoy the items virtually.
At this point in time, WITH MY APOLOGY, I am unable to entertain curious persons as these are controlled items and licensed by the police and are not for sale or exchange.
A private museum is a multi-million dollar project so it takes a lot of planning and acquiring a suitable property at the right price...too many factors to put it in place. Whilst the preparation is on-going, this website shall serve as a virtual museum but kindly bear in mind that items depicted on this website are few examples representing each collection. Aside from swords, my Japanese paintings total 5,000 pieces and Chinese paintings, a few hundreds...together with hundreds of Chinese antiques and also a watch collection.
New collectors and curious people, please wait for my dream to materalise...when, I am unsure but hopefully, someday.