Star of Crazy Rich Asians, Henry Golding talks about the beauty of time.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Star of Crazy Rich Asians, Henry Golding talks about the beauty of time.

Right now, Henry Golding is the name on everyone’s lips. With Crazy Rich Asians hitting cinemas this month, all eyes are on him as he takes on the leading role of Nick Young. Golding is perfect as the charismatic scion of one of Singapore’s wealthiest families—after all, the 31-year-old British-Malaysian actor sees Young as someone who is fiercely independent like him. “Our similarities are that we’re very open to the world and we’re not defined by our heritage or where we come from. We’re very much our own person,” Golding says. “I think I have the heart that he does. Throughout the journey on Crazy Rich Asians, it’s all about love. It’s the love he has for Rachel (Constance Wu’s character), the love he has for his family. That’s what shines through.” 

If there’s something else Golding and his character share, it’s having a discerning eye for exceptional timepieces. Which explains why, on top of his leading man role, Golding was invited to San Francisco to be a part of the Cartier Social Lab sessions. Organised by the French luxury House, the initiative sees trailblazers from all over the world gathering to discuss topics ranging from risk-taking to the power of innovation—the same elements that led to the invention of the Santos de Cartier watch, which was honoured at the two-day event with a highly anticipated launch of a new variation. 

What have you learnt about the watch industry so far?

That it is so full of history. I think timepieces, and the engineering behind them, are amazing. We’re so technologically advanced in this day and age. But the fact that something we carry on our wrist boasts a level of engineering that has been, throughout its history, kinetic utilising manual mechanics is beautiful. 

How is your style reflected in the watches you choose?

I love classic pieces; something timeless and universal that can go well with a pair of Orlebar Brown swim shorts, a day suit, white linen or a tuxedo. That’s what I look for in watches. Nothing too outrageous or outlandish; sleek and tasteful is what I love. 

Drawing parallels from the Santos de Cartier, how does its qualities apply to your career?

The watch has over a hundred years of history and its design doesn’t age. In that sense, I think it’s about going the distance and it’s something I’ve wanted for my career. It’s not to be a flash in the pan, but to really look for stability in Hollywood. I also think it’s about choosing roles that aren’t always your everyday action or superhero roles. I’m ready to put in the hard work and not just reap the benefits of being in the spotlight. I really want to throw myself into this passion that I love so much. 

On the topic of Crazy Rich Asians, what’s the craziest thing you’ve done? 

It’s going to these weird and wonderful places in my past career as a travel host. I think my journey as an actor is completely crazy, too. Just a year and a half ago, working in Los Angeles [was something that] never registered on my radar. It’s been such a mad journey. I think it’s just going to get even crazier. 

What would you do if you were rich? 

The sensible answer would be to pay off all the debts and mortgages of my loved ones, and go to some deserted island with them for a wonderful holiday. Otherwise, I think I’ll thoroughly enjoy something selfish, like travel the world, go on these luxurious holidays and eat at the most wonderful restaurants. 

What’s the most Asian thing about you? 

My heritage is definitely the most Asian thing about me. It doesn’t mean anything to me when people say that I’m not Asian enough because I’m half-British. They have no idea what my beliefs are. That, and my love of dried sour plums and sour sweets.I’ve been described as a pregnant lady because I need and love those.

Clockwise from top: The timeless design of the watch has ensured its versatility. Steel and gold Santos de Cartier watch (medium), $12,600, Cartier. Golding at the Social Lab. Steel Santos de Cartier watch (large), $9,450; pink gold Santos de Cartier Skeleton watch (large), $87,500, Cartier