Why I bought Bruce Lee’s watch


Bruce Lee at a press conference, September 1971.South China Morning Post / Getty Images

There’s a lot you can speculate about Bruce Lee about from his choice of Seiko: Ferrell points out that the 6139 was far from a cheap watch – it would have sold for around $ 200 in the early ’70s, roughly the same price as a Rolex Submariner at this time. Avoiding typical Western status symbols in favor of a watch designed and built entirely in Asia could have been an accurate statement as Bruce struggled to gain traction as a leading man in Hollywood. There is no doubt, however, why so many Asian Americans are suing 6139-6010 today.

“We really only had a person“Says Will Yun Lee, whose father participated in martial arts tournaments alongside Bruce in the late 1960s.” At that time, Bruce was the only Asian figure brave and daring enough not to follow in his footsteps. belongs to nobody. What brings him to another level of icondom, just like Muhammad Ali, is that he was the complete package: a cinematic hero, a philosophical hero, a style hero. And growing up, I wanted to imitate him in all possible ways.

Yang-Yi Personal Seiko 6139-6010 Automatic ChronographCourtesy of Yang-Yi Goh
Yang-Yi Personal Seiko 6139-6010 Automatic ChronographCourtesy of Yang-Yi Goh

For Ronny Chieng, wearing his Seiko on stage is a way to channel some of that energy in a slightly more subtle way than dressing like Kill BillHe joked. “It really makes me look extravagant,” Chieng says. “It reminds me of Bruce Lee’s struggle to express himself authentically, which is the point of stand-up comedy. You want to uncover the truth, speak out openly and honestly, and bring joy to people – which I think is what he was trying to do as well. It is something that everyone can learn from. But then as a Chinese in America? As a Chinese designer, a Chinese interpreter in America? It’s too much. This is too much. Just wear it and get it.


I do You understand. Last fall, I pulled the trigger on a pristine Seiko 6139-6010 from Ferrell’s stable, with a rally bracelet very similar to Bruce’s – the save, in fact, of the bracelet Ferrell had. purchased for Daniel Dae Kim. For the first time in my life, I understood the appeal of wearing a serious watch: its weight, the precise engineering, that austere but striking dial. It highlights all my looks – my adjustments instantly give me a more thoughtful, more finished, more grown-up feel. In a time when being Asian in America has never felt more difficult or complicated, that connection to Bruce Lee’s steadfast and relentless self-confidence really gives me a jolt every time I slip it up. I stand a little taller and feel a little more courageous. It reminds me that I belong exactly where I am and that no one can tell me otherwise. I feel powerful. And above all, it is proof of the greatest of all truths: Mom always knows the best.


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