If you’re looking at a Swiss watch and thinking Asia is a world away, think again. As one modern Chinese proverb states: “The poor play with luxury cars, while the rich play with luxury watches.” It’s highly problematic, but it’s part of the reasoning as to why Hong Kong and China are the top two markets in the luxury watch industry.
While Omega holds the lead in mainland China, Rolex really hit the ground running when they reached Hong Kong in 1972, establishing themselves as the ultimate status symbol when it comes to luxury goods. One watch in particular held the interest of the Chinese buying public, thanks to all its famous spokespersons.
In the 60s, the Day-Date “President” was the biggest draw—nicknamed for the men in power who made it their daily driver. JFK was allegedly gifted the watch by Marilyn Monroe the same night she sang Happy Birthday to him. Lyndon B. Johnson was the first to wear his in office, following his predecessor––even Donald Trump has carried over the tradition, although one doubts he is Rolex’s ambassador of choice.
For a region hungry for power and with the deep pockets to fuel that drive, it’s easy to see how the Day-Date became the watch of choice for businessmen in the golden days of finance in Hong Kong. Today, the Day-Date sells for upwards of USD50K —and truth be told people still shell out for this status symbol.
Meanwhile, Hongkong streetwear brand 8Five2 wanted a whiff of that success. As one of the OGs in the shopping capital, the group witnessed Rolex’s rise from the very beginning and decided to borrow a few elements from the Day-Date and make it their own. With the release of their Causeway Bay ALL DAY, they took a playful jab at the local upper class with a very “presidential” design.
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You might dismiss the watch as just another Chinese knockoff, but there are some noticeable differences when you’re rolling with this budget Rollie. They’re did away with the diamonds, displaying “852” as the only numbers on the dial, and a loud and proud shoutout to its provenance: Hong Muthafuckin' Kong. Only 100 pieces was made available worldwide, and each piece went for just around USD217. It’s obviously not going to be winning any awards for original design, but it’s about time the smaller guys had their own taste of success––even when it comes at a fraction of the price.