While no two mothers are alike, they all want the same thing: To give their child the best.
Carlene and Andrea Fong
Ladies' World Time Ref. 7130G
To banker-turned-entrepreneur Carlene Fong, there's no greater challenge in the world than being a mother. “It cannot be compared to any job. I always tell people, it's way easier to open 10 restaurants than to have another child,” jokes the founder of Vietnamese restaurant Madam Saigon with a laugh.
That said, Fong asserts that her only child Andrea has been “such a blessing”. Formerly career-driven, the mother-of-one realigned her priorities in life when Andrea came along and now focuses on nurturing and spending time with her daughter above all else. Andrea, 11, is a student at Methodist Girls' School and a budding violinist currently under the tutelage of Ng Yu-Ying, first violinist of the critically acclaimed T'ang Quartet.
What is the best thing about being a mother?
Being able to nurture [Andrea] and walk with her through her learning journey. Having the privilege of imparting values, knowledge and life skills, and seeing her flourish into a young lady brings me so much more joy than the material wealth that many of us pursue.
What is your main wish for Andrea?
For her to be a successful, useful individual who contributes to society and seeing her wishes come true in whichever area she chooses to pursue, through focus and hard work.
Patek Philippe's philosophy is about passing the baton on to the next generation. What is the one piece of advice you want to pass to Andrea?
Be an individual of substance who can influence others in their lives.
What about the Patek Philippe Ladies' World Time you have on your wrist? Is it something you will pass to Andrea as well?
Actually, yes. This watch was given to me by my husband on our 11th anniversary. When the piece was launched, I looked for it in Singapore but was told it wouldn't be brought into Asia. So when Andrea had a violin performance in Vienna and we were travelling [around Europe], my husband spent much time [scouring] the shops from Vienna to Prague and finally, he found it in Paris. It was on hold by another customer, but after much negotiation, the store manager at the Place Vendôme boutique let him have it. Andrea was there to witness the whole acquisition. She will remember the piece as a representation of love from a husband to his wife and from a mother to her daughter.
What is it that you value about Patek Philippe's watches?
Its timeless and classic designs. The fine craftsmanship of its complicated watches also always amazes me as Patek Philippe [continually] strives to push the boundaries of conventional watchmaking.
Michelle and Rebecca Maxine Tan
LADIES' Annual Calendar REF. 4936G
In Michelle Tan's opinion, memories are one of the best things parents can give to their kids. This is why the mother of 10-year-old Reginald Huey and 16-month-old Rebecca Maxine has been chronicling the lives of her children on Facebook, with the intention of handing over their individual accounts when they are older. “Beyond posting photos of them, I also pen some of my thoughts, share anecdotes and funny conversations that we have,” says Tan. “It's meant as a gift so that they will have all these things to look back on. It'll be like their diary — just written by someone else.”
When Tan isn't creating new memories with Reginald and Rebecca, she is either busy growing her career in real estate or working on her latest pet project: An online resource portal for mothers. Though it is still in its preliminary stages, Tan reveals that the portal's objective is not just to provide localised content for mothers, but to create a community for them to connect with each other.
Despite her hectic schedule, family always comes first for this mum. At the end of the day, all she wants is to raise her children well and instill in them the right values. “I hope that one day, when they have their own kids, they'd say: ‘My mum raised me this way and those are the values that I want to pass on to my kids.'”
Has being a mother changed you?
Motherhood has made me less reckless and more conscious of the consequences of my actions. It's said that kids don't learn from what you say but what you do. I think that is absolutely true. When you are one of their earliest influences, it's important to model positive behaviour and values because it shapes the way they make decisions when they start having independent thoughts and choices.
What is your main wish for Rebecca?
That she will be self-assured and not measure her worth based on the opinions of others, and has faith in her own judgement and decisions. I've seen too many people, especially young people, live their lives based on other people's whims and fancies. They not only lose their own identity but also find it hard to be happy because as we all know, you can't please everyone.
You mentioned that the Ladies' Annual Calendar you are wearing is your first Patek Philippe piece. What drew you to its watches?
I have a soft spot for brands with a good brand philosophy or inspiration. Patek Philippe is a family business and that transpires into them creating watches for the family, not just individual collectors. The tag line “You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation” in their advertisements clearly communicates and reinforces this philosophy. I also love the fact that from its early founding days in the 1800s, Patek Philippe already had women among its clientele collecting its beautifully crafted timepieces.
Are you planning to pass this watch to Rebecca when she's older?
Before my daughter came along, the plan was to pass all my ladies timepieces along with jewellery to my future daughter-in-law. But this piece was really bought with Rebecca in mind. [We even] put her name and my name together on the watch certificate — Michelle Rebecca Tan — so it really becomes a legacy piece. And if someday she has a daughter of her own, that gets passed on. Now that we are featuring it in this interview, I would like to frame up the [story] and give it to her together with the watch as a special piece of memory.