Saturday, 19 May 2012

Never to do anything of value in moderation, but to the limits. It was worth it.

Before boasting of any "accomplishments" etc etc, this post goes against my own upbringing and belief system, but honesty is overated when one simply wishes to rant over the past and drag it over the coals....provenance and GOD is recognised as essential to going from poor to wealthy, even mildly rich. It may mean the same, or it may be a wide gap.

For us, it was and is a WIDE very wide gap.
This picture taken before we became parents, married and happy in private practice way back in the year the Porsche 944 was a car for people like me who could not afford the 911, may NOT have been taken, if I had not made a decision minutes before.
After the HORRIFIC ferrari crash in today's papers, what happened could have been our fate.

I was driving this car, minutes before this picture was taken, when as I was an IDIOTIC , ego driven young man, no lack of education, but armed with a total lack of any form of philosophy, over took a lorry along west coast road, before Haw Par Villa, heading east...very narrow 24 years ago. As I sped over that lorry, I can still recall the terrifying sight of the long hauler head cab heading towards me! On the oncoming side of the road.

I moved my right foot off the pressure to see if I could slide back behind my lorry which I had just over find in the side mirror that a car had CLOSED my position!!! All cards were on the table, probably within fractions of a second, that I slammed my foot down to feel the burst of acceleration that shot this 944 towards the oncoming lorry, and to slide infront of the vehicle we just passed. Thanks Mr Karsono Kwee for keeping your car in such good shape! (plate 1001)

That was inches...maybe less...that the oncoming vehicle missed us! I could feel the heat of the lorry's engine against my right cheek as it passed..missing the side mirror by less than a foot.
NEVER again will I ever drive like that.

I will not be here today typing girls would not have been born...the watch industry may not have been the same...and ALL that I had built my life on..all that would have been gone.
In a small news column.

But coming back to now....19th May 2012

This was how EXTREME I was at age 6.
I took this minutes before I was to go on stage in ACJS, primary 1b, Barker Road, Principal Ang was to deliver to me a public caning!

My first. In my next 12 years at ACS, I was to come back to this hall, stand before the school and be caned.

Sometimes with friends, now CEOs of companies...chuckles...but the fact that I was so CRAZY about documenting my own life for fun...that I took a camera, this one a Kodak 126 cartridge film take a photo before today, I wonder what kind of guy I was back then.

Its almost like a guy taking his camera to a hanging...

Next, always have loving close family.
My parents must have been devastated and ashamed of my behavior in school...but they never ever discouraged me in a personal way. Not a single word of disparagement...rather..I was reprimanded for wasting my time.

They were VERY advanced in parenting at the times...and Spock..the doctor, had just about finished his book back then.
I don't think my parents read it!

My mum below looked great yah? She is 80 now..and driving an RAV4.

I learnt to buy expensive and strange furniture at a young age.
Because of one Doctor Chee Pui Hung.
Winston Chee's dad.
His home at Ridout road was INCREDIBLE.
It had even a airplane hangar inside, it was converted into an amazing libreary with books he had read.
He has since passed on to a better place last year.

I knew then I had to be more matured, and be very consistant in hard work! To even accuire any furniture.

Hard work was NOT enough..I had to be passionate.
I risked my life to climb onto the uncompleted highway to take this picture, with the now head of the Singapore Cancer Center...equally passionate...and this was the skyline that today has Marina Bay Sands.

Later, I would also walk to Everest Base Camp 1...crazy.

This is a picture of my last free dive...the boy in the pic is hopefully alive with a family today.
Living in a village in Tioman is not the same as Singapore!

This was how dumb I looked back then, unboxing my new Nikon FE.
Even then I was an aperture priority person..because I always wanted a control of depth of field and bokeh.
Photoshop was not imagined as film was everything.

Meeting my wife when I was 28 was the best thing to happen.
I have seen so many marriages fail.
With or without divorce.
But Dolly was a girl who is and was then brighter than I was...and it was a natural that she could understand how difficult a person I am to live with.
She gave up a career that had twice or more what I could earn...ever.

Buying an unbuilt house back in 1989 was the next best thing.
Helping a few friends as well to buy homes back before 1990 was to stabilise my business for ever.
At $800,000 sgd, this later reached 7 million sgd.

Living within and at the edge of a forest reserve, with no surrounding neighbours except 1...or 2 and no back door homes has a certain value of peace that allows a great vision of what is "thinking and meditation".
The pool was and is a place where I hang in for thinking.
It always works.

I built it on a design that was then was a single bowl of concrete and steel, about 50% steel...the pool can be lifted out of the ground!
At 33 feet by 23 feet, it was then the smallest pool in, many pools are much more tiny.

Useful for long underwater laps in a deep silence.

Taking up collecting rare modern contemporary watches was to change my whole with Netscape.
Here, the purchase of the Ulysse Nardin FREAK. I was to meet Alan Teo at Millenia Walk.
More...I began to attend church..New Creation Church...not the same as other modern churches such as city harvest.
I don't like singing in church and bible study groups is not my thing.

My parents and wife built a loving family for me.
I could have ruined it with my career.
I was blessed and VERY lucky.

In fact, I became incredibly wealthy thru nothing but God's gift....people who helped me.

My obsessive love for form and art begins with museums.
Here was where I met the works of Herve Leger thru the Pompidou Paris.

And from here, Dolly would almost always be the Leger woman....if you google me..that's what you will see.
Pois would gain an unusual customer...a guy..haha...

Becoming "known" had its own problems...ego.
That's an IWC calibre 5000, made then and hardly sold well.
Short sighted market didn't agree with me that it would surely reach investment value, even with scratches and was $13,700 in rg limited edition with no date and a perspex like crystal ...lovely piece which I still own.

This watch and the Langes had earlier led me to one man...Gunther Blumlein, and even Rolf Schnyder. Both have sadly left before their time.

Both changed my life. In a very big way.

Book signing. I never thought this would ever happen. I never had to print my own book...and that too I thought was totally unreachable.

This was how I looked back in 2002.

Now, I am 54..I plan to exercise and diet my way BACK to 43 by the next 2 years...say 2015 or so.

I need help.

That's a SEIKO 5 for people wondering....yes. Million dollar watch owners do wear good watches, not brands.


  1. Thanks for sharing your life stories which I always enjoy. Given your extreme approach in life which does work out nicely in the end for u, I wonder how was your wedding.

    as I myself am going to be tying the knot and planning for the day.
    But find myself debating with myself if one should go all the way as you say or be practical about it. Personally I honestly think weddings are a big waste of money on three quarters of the people you don't know. But trying to satisfy
    everyone's need is indeed trying.

    How can one conduct the social obligations required sometimes and satisfy
    oneself at the same time. What's your approach if u ever encountered such situations.


  2. Gary,
    Thanks for leaving a comment which benefits EVERYONE.

    When we got married, I think I was selfish in that I did not have a wedding dinner. I should have had one for close friends and relatives. I was known enough to be frank enough to do it. But I did not.
    Instead we went strisight from church to airport to Phuket.

    Now...that is me. It was bad. I am going to redo it this year, 2012 is our 25th and we are going to do it nicely, without fanfare and all.

    New friends and some old ones. But less than 30 people.

    My point is...make sure your parents are happy.
    It is for them. Not me.
    I agree with takes courage not to hurt people, by not inviting them.

    The CORE purpose of this blog is to help my patients realise and share their lives in a meaningful way. I had the chance to be poor and work up to rich. Some are denied that, being born my own kids.

    It is going to be different for them. They will bring themselves and the family's core to the next level..maybe not materially, but by new ways of communication and careers that are yet to exist.

    Hope this helps.
    Read something like "Asterios Polyp", a superlative graphic novel on life.

  3. Hahaha....personally I am happy to just sign the cert and that's that. Perhaps a very small luxurious tea ceremony....alas it is not just about myself. Got the wife, the parents, the grandparents etc.

    I've still got a few months left to ponder how well to "invest" that money. Let's see what life throws at me.


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  5. If you have about 5 to 10 k in sgd, buy yourselves a GOOD, precious watch. that machine will tell your unborn generations much more about you two, then a pair of rings, outlast all furnishing, homes grandad left us a Rolex and grandma , left us an ebel...both made in 1929. Cool yah...both working well and movements are mint. The Rolex was made for Robinson's of Singapore. And grandpa was working then in Sungei Lembeng, the world's deepest tin mine..Guniness tin mines tend not to be downwards. Haha..

  6. Hi Bernard, it is really nice to read about your stories about a rebel from ACS. I went to ACS as well but many years after you. I too had parents who could not afford the good life but gave me as much as they could. I was rebellious back then too.

    I have grown up now but I still miss those childhood days though. I am a professional now and live a comfortable life. I like that you are upfront. I read your blog because I love watches.

    Unlike you, I do not work in a field where I can help people. The older I get, the more I feel that I should be helping others. I live in Sydney now and I am starting to see the impact of the GFC.

    I feel guilty for having nice watches and I am beginning to feel that I should sell my watches. The money that I lose from buying and selling watches could instead be donated to charity.

    Do you have any thoughts/advice on this? Thanks. Kelvin

  7. Dear Kelvin,
    I gave much thought to your excellent question.
    I can tell you that the VERY same guilt bugs the hell out of me. matter how much I donate etc etc..I can go NUTS if I don't partition off a part of my life, and live it as though the other half does not exist.
    Have I lost you?
    It is the Batman vs Wayne haunting crisis of what the hell am I doing.

    I created an artificial, well not really, but seperated part of myself as watch collecting richguy.

    The other half is poor, normal doctor working his ass off.

    It works for me.
    In fact, what I am temporarily planning on how to USE this blog for discussing issues like this...openly. Anonymous is problems.

    I see patients who are hard against a wall of poverty and all.

    Years back, I used money to help.
    But now, or rather since 2003, I have used LEVERAGE to change things on a broader base/front. Leverage needs money to power it.

    I have managed to change enough of my smaller country, and I have also managed to push changes into the industries that empower as to remove plenty of can only do it if one has the position of the NO SOUR GRAPES thingy.

    All this luxury watches or cars are fun, it is life for many...and I think it is healthy, because it allows acess to fullfillment at a MUCH lower intellectual field. Which at times, we all enter!!! is NOT important...understanding what it is, why it is important, all important.

    Not only do TRUE excellence represent luxury, but the ability to tell apart what is apparent and what is VERY important as a part of all pursuits. The WHY???

    Have you ever thought of reading either Pferzig's work on "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" or the graphic novel "asterios polyp"?

    It is VERY good.


  8. Hi Bernard,

    I didn't mean to be anonymous. It was the numerous choices under comment and I choose the easy way out!

    Very good points, especially the "access to fulfillment at a much lower intellectual field". I don't feel that I spend money excessively but it could be coming from a poorer background which fuels these thoughts. Perhaps it is empathy for my fellow man, or being close to middle age and wondering what I contributed to society !

    I look forward to reading more about your experiences in life and thank you for your reply.

    Kelvin Chee
    kelvinwchee at gmail dot com

  9. Dear are right. Not to worry, I apologise if I was brow beating anyone. In the old days when I used to teach, students were afraid of me...because I was a bully..and then I realised I was inside the lowest intellectual field. Chuckles..and I have to try to see things from as many angles as possible.
    My weakest point is my own ego. BAD.
    I need to learn. To keep sharp and to be friendly too...especially to sales and marketing people. It is a living.
    Just to share with close friends all know me as the least materialistic and money minded person..altho I don't always agree...weakness for shopping! Arrghh...

  10. Hi Bernard,

    We all have our weaknesses, I more so than others. Your thoughts/advice is much appreciated. Thanks for recommending the book. I think it might be just the right medication I need.

    Thank you.

    Best Regards,

  11. Outstanding story there. What happened after? Good luck! how to lose weight fast but stay healthy