Outside of football, one of TJ Simtoco’s biggest hobbies is collecting watches. He tells The GAME about his collection, how he started, and how he chooses his pieces.
TJ Simtoco has been an athlete all his life. He started playing at the age of five and dreamed of becoming a pro footballer, and even when his journey was sidetracked due to an injury, he still never hung up the life of an athlete, moving to basketball for six years. Now, he currently plays for Club de Futbol Manila (CF Manila) and is competing in the Copa Paulino Alcantara tournament.
But even the most dedicated athletes need hobbies, passions, and activities outside of the sport to keep their fuel going because even when football is life, life should still have more than football.
This is true for TJ. Although he is a very talented athlete with a bright future ahead of him, he does not see himself just as a football player. His entire personality is a product of the many facets of his life, and one way he expresses himself is through his watches.
“I think a watch defines a man,” TJ tells The GAME.
In the same sentiment, TJ’s watch collection is a testament to who he is, both on and off the pitch.
READ MORE: TJ Simtoco: Life On And Off The Pitch
How did you get into watch collecting?
TJ: “I fell in love with [watches] because my uncle collects watches, and my dad too. The first time I put on a watch, it was my uncle’s — a Panerai. I just felt something click. That was prom, so I was 17 or 18 years old. Now, when I see other people with watches, I can see what type of personality they have based on their watches. So if they wear a Patek Philippe, they’re more of a flashy, high roller. If you see a guy with a Rolex, he’s classic. If you see a guy with a Panerai, he’s humble, clean.”
We agreed — a watch definitely can be a reflection of the person wearing it. So we had to know, how do TJ’s watches reflect his personality?
What watches do you wear?
TJ: “My favorite is my Rolex. I bought it with my own money which I earned during the pandemic. It’s a Starbucks. It really defines who I am because I love coffee, so that alone is a big thing. And the fact that it’s a Submariner — it was one of my dream watches before. It was such a blessing that I was able to earn up for it, and it became one of my investments.”
A Rolex is not an easy watch to come by, and this particular one definitely is special because not only does it showcase a passion of TJ’s, but it also highlights his work ethic, saving up for such an investment at a young age.
How do you choose a watch?
TJ: “My process is very simple. I need a watch that will define my personality. Of course, I know myself better than anyone else, so I want my watches to shout, ‘This is TJ, no one else.’ Very few watches come by when it comes to this statement because I don’t like to be a loud person when it comes to wearing them, so I like picking my teeth there. I have my favorites, and my Rolex and Audemars Piguet are my favorite watches.”
Currently, TJ has five watches, and though they all serve different purposes in his lifestyle, they all have one thing in common: they all define him.
What roles do your watches have in your wardrobe?
TJ: “The Rolex is more of my statement watch, it’s something I’d wear when I want to express myself. My AP is my ‘good day’ or special event watch. The rest, which is a couple of Seikos, those I wear daily.”
Although TJ doesn’t bring his watches with him when he is training with CF Manila or doing conditioning workouts, he does have an Apple Watch for his football routines, giving him a watch for literally any occasion.
What else do you enjoy when you’re not on the pitch?
TJ: “Recently, I’ve immersed myself deeper in Church. I serve, I always try not to miss the services. I go do their activities. It’s something that really helped me go through what I went through over the last couple of months. It’s not easy being alone in the sense that I’m giving my body physically, my mind mentally — it’s really something you don’t want to put yourself in, but I’m happy that my parents and my brothers got me back to Church.
“It really shapes my personality. I want to be more spiritually down to earth, I want to be loving, I want to be humble, and a very caring person and all my friends at Church help me with this.”
In the same way that TJ chooses his watches carefully to ensure they each define who he is, his life both on and off the pitch mirror who he is as an individual — passionate, hardworking, and grounded — traits that any talented athlete needs to succeed.
Text ANNIKA CANIZA
Photography KIERAN PUNAY
Art Direction KARLOTA TUAZON
Grooming CATS DEL ROSARIO
Sittings Editor JAMES CRUZ
Shoot Coordination TONI CALINGASAN
Shot on Location THE DELI @ SHAW