Watchuseek visited The Armoury in Hong Kong and met with Mark Cho, its co-founder, who took us through a tour of the store and explained the concept behind his haberdashery, as well as discussed vintage and modern watches.
The Armoury was an idea of Alan See, Ethan Newton and Mark Cho to create a truly bespoke and personalized men’s clothing, shoes, and accessories in 2010. Mark stated that this store was their response to today’s trend of insubstantial products masked by expensive advertising. Essentially you are paying for marketing without getting superior quality material and an appropriate fit. They wanted to find niche companies, factories, workshops and artisans dedicated to their product and providing the best handmade quality.
Looking around the The Armoury it is apparent that they want to (re)connect the customer back with the true artisans or manufacturers who create the best quality clothes, shoes, and accessories. The concept works fairly straightforward – they carry ready-to-wear clothes and accessories from the likes of Orazio Luciano, Drake’s, Jean Rousseau, Saint Crispin’s (some of them made exclusively for the store). Then each month, they schedule trunk shows and visit by artisans who measure the clients and create either made-to-measure or bespoke article.
During our visit, we met Naoki Nakagawa (Nacky), an eye specialist from Japan with his own brand called Nackymade. Nacky offers a variety of colors and frames with his made-to-order business, which is based on the ready-to-wear collection, and his one-of-a-kind bespoke offering. Whether it’s an eye-catching color paired with dinosaur arms or a muted color with a classic frame, Nacky offers a unique style with a comfortable fit on his regular trunk shows in Hong Kong, New York, and London.
Mark stated that they have an event almost every week where an artisan comes to meet the customers at one of their three locations—two in Hong Kong, and one in New York. In this month alone they have Nacky (eyeglasses), Yohei Fukuda (bespoke shoes), Saint Crispin’s (bespoke shoes), Ring Jacket (bespoke tailor), and Tailor CAID (bespoke tailor).
Finally Mark discussed the subject of watches. It was refreshing to see Mark’s depth of knowledge on vintage watches and specifically on Grand Seiko. Mark showcased a decent size of vintage and a few new pieces at the store. There were rare Grand Seiko, Patek, Cartier, Rolex, and Vacheron. The Armoury in New York also carries Nomos watches.
The most impressive was the Grand Seiko collection, which also happen to be Mark’s favorite subject. There was Grand Seiko SBGW033 – the re-issue of the original Grand Seiko from the 60’s as well the original one. SBGW033 happens to be Mark’s favorite Grand Seiko. He believes that it surpassed the original one in quality and it as close to a perfect watch to wear with suits. There was a vintage Grand Seiko VFA, few of newer spring drives, as well as couple of Asia-only Grand Seiko editions.
He believes that Grand Seiko provides the highest quality for the money, similar to artisans at the Armoury. To quote Mark, “People often forget that the striking, cutting, sewing, pressing and finishing of a garment is also engineering, maybe by the techniques of a bygone era, but engineering nonetheless.” He further states that a watch should be part of ones wardrobe.
Besides watches, there are beautiful leather and silk straps made by Jean Rousseau and Drake’s for The Armoury. You can inspect the vintage watches under the loop with the Loop System sold at the store.
The “connecting of customer to artisan” concept has been received very well for The Armoury. You can visit The Armoury online store and find the list of in-store events here.