Horology Forum Sit Down: Mark Cho Talks Situations In Style
This fall, the team behind Dubai Watch Week descended upon New York’s Meatpacking District for an unforgettable weekend of discussions, not all of which were about watches.
What better place for Horology Forum to make its first stateside appearance than the city that never sleeps? And with time always on its mind, New York is filled with horological enthusiasts at every level.
So, it comes as no surprise that this weekend was a huge success. A staple of any summit is the people and personalities you meet. Thus, to begin our “Horology Forum Sit Down” series, we spoke with the founder of menswear brand The Armoury and established watch collector Mark Cho.
Interview with Mark Cho
J.J. Owens: To start off with a heavy-hitting question – as someone with such a diverse watch collection, if you could have only one watch, which would you choose?
Mark Cho: I actually think it would be some sort of smallish, steelish model on or not on a bracelet. The Rolex Explorer I is a good example, as is the SBGW231 from Grand Seiko.
But if I could expand that a bit to two or three, I think everyone should have at least one small gold watch, anything from 34-38mm. You don’t need to wear it a ton, but I think people are surprised with how well it actually does wear. They are so undervalued.
JO: Well, with that expansion, what would be your third?
MC: I would get something sporty, really sporty. Right now, my favorite sport watch is the Sinn U50. Real, no-nonsense, clean.
JO: As a style icon not only in the watch industry but also in the fashion world, what do you believe makes or breaks an outfit?
MC: I have to be diplomatic, but clothing that is far too tight on men.
JO: Over the past few decades, do you feel as though watch trends have matched clothing trends?
MC: Over the last five years, yes. I’ll give you an example – I started a survey where we figured out the ideal watch size. I was really surprised that 50% of my clients believed their wrists were too small. Then, they were asked what their actual wrist measurement was as well as their sport and dress watch preferences. And once we analyzed the data it was a perfect bell curve.
I have a theory: When trying on a watch with a wide diameter, the person automatically feels like their wrist is smaller because everything else is too big.
JO: I think 34mm looks great on a guy!
MC: We trend toward these bigger watches in the first place for a few reasons. Specifically, one part of the equation is a combination of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
They could pull those watches off, and it just opened the floodgates. They can do whatever they want, but the rest of us have to live with our limitations.
JO: When designing watch straps for The Armoury, what is the process? Do you pay attention to trending colors or look more at your collection and what you would like in the market?
MC: First, I look at the colors of the watch. I think of the strap texture and whether I want it to have a sportier or vintage look. For the vintage look, I go toward lizard or alligator. Then, it is deciding whether you want the stitching exposed and such. All the little things make a huge difference.
JO: Time for a bit of rapid-fire fun. It’s real simple – what watch best correlates with said item of clothing. To start, what watch goes with a tuxedo?
MC: A Patek Philippe Ellipse in white gold or yellow gold.
JO: A pair of Jordan shoes.
MC: I don’t have much experience with those, but a Swatch.
JO: A classic cashmere sweater.
MC: A vintage Patek. Something like a reference 96 or a reference 2526. A very old-school, discreet sort of watch.
JO: Lastly, a good pair of jeans.
MC: I am still so stuck on the gold thing, but I want to wear pieces with jeans where there is texture either in the watch itself or on the strap. This is supposed to be quick-fire… I will have to let you know!
To keep up with everything regarding Horology Forum and Dubai Watch Week, be sure to follow their Instagram and website and stay tuned for our next Horology Forum Sit Down coming soon.
To learn more about Mark Cho, visit The Armoury in New York or Hong Kong or view the part of his watch collection that sold during Phillips’ recent “The Beauty in Everything” auction.