Most watch enthusiasts get creative when they have to travel with their timepieces. On a recent afternoon, Henry Golding brought his growing collection to a Venice, California, coffee shop rolled inside ankle socks, which were stuffed in a Tumi toiletries case tucked inside an Arc’teryx tote bag. Not entirely surprising, considering the 34-year-old actor was once a travel-show host whose timepieces had to hold up to treks up the Mekong. In fact, the host gig fueled his nascent watch obsession—Golding spent an entire season’s paycheck buying his first luxury watch, a Cartier Pasha. “I wasn’t too proud of that at the time,” he says. And then he got his big break, a starring role in Crazy Rich Asians, and bought a Cartier Tank.
You have a very Cary Grant–esque persona, and all of your watches strike me as leading man watches. Were you conscious of that when building your collection?
You know what that is? It’s classicness. We’re talking about a day and age where leading men were stoic, brave, manly, but not toxic. Refined. Then in terms of the watch choices, these are the ones that will stand the test of time, that I will still be wearing in 30 years. I mean, the flashiest watch I own is the [Patek Philippe] Nautilus. A lot of people see that and are just like, “Eh.” But the watch collector is like, “Oh, shit.”
Do you have to think about the connotations of wearing a Nautilus before putting it on in the morning?
It’s really bad to say this, but sometimes it is a power move to wear that watch. If you’re going to these big meetings with CEOs, your watch is a statement. But taste in watches is much more powerful than the price of a watch. So for me to rock up to these crazy hedge fund guys and I’m wearing my Nautilus, I feel like it garners more attention than having a blinged-out diamond-studded crazy thing on your wrist.
You also have a Cartier Tank, which is arguably one of the most classic designs of all time.
The Tank goes with everything. You could wear it casually or you can wear it with a tuxedo—it’s just timeless. This one I got for the Crazy Rich Asians premiere. I’d always wanted this particular watch and an occasion to wear it. It’s not too audacious, it’s not too in your face. It’s a gold watch, but it doesn’t say, Hey, look at me. I got a gold watch on. It’s classic.