Ten Meets Horology’s New Tastemakers

Like most high-end watchmakers, Cartier measures progress in one-thousandth of a metre. Success is found in rewinding the clock, not continuous forward motion. GQ named the Cartier Tank Cintrée Les Rééditions in platinum one of the best watches of last year. But the reissued Cintrée is a near-exact replica of the century-old original, save for being slightly slimmer – 0.37 mm, to be exact.

After the Baignoire Bangle – the poster child of today’s jewellery-stacking trend – spurred waiting lists of prospective buyers over the summer, The New York Times declared a Baignoire “the new sold-out watch that isn’t really new”. The style, it turns out, actually dates back to 1912.

And at Art Basel Miami Beach in December, Time Unlimiteda pop-up exhibition surveying Cartier’s 177-year history as “the watchmaker of shapes”, featured a ceiling made to look like the dial of a vintage Tank Américaine and displays featuring Ceinture and Santos models of yore.

But in contrast to all the horological history, the scene at the exhibition’s opening reception felt like a snapshot of the present moment. The dapper, champagne-sipping crowd was filled with as many fresh faces of contemporary watch culture – musician James Blakemusic producer In Kaytrana – as fresh ways to flaunt vintage watch faces. Several young women stacked Tanks and Baignoires on the same arm. Mike Newa New York DJ-turned-vintage watch specialist with more than 360,000 TikTok followers, double-wristed a Cristallor and a Coussin. Another attendee ingeniously wore a Panthère double loop around her neck.

“Two watches on the wrist… don’t try this at home,” one person wrote under a video posted by Nouveau on TikTok. “The Panthère as a choker is insane,” said another commenter.

The break from tradition was by design, according to Malaika Crawfordstyle editor of the influential watch website Hours and host of Time Unlimited’s opening-night dinner at The Surf Club Restaurant, chef Thomas Keller’s venture in Miami Beach. “I had all sorts of friends down at (the) Basel (art gallery), so I invited a ton of people who had absolutely nothing to do with the watch space,” says Crawford, referring to the likes of the artist Emma Stern, gallerist Jonathan Hoyt and music publicist Scott Jawson. “Looking around the space at dinner, I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the least watch-y thing I’ve ever seen.’ It felt like a true marker of the convergence of the worlds of fashion, art and music with the watch world.”

Guest lists are hardly the only industry norm being rethought by Crawford, a former stylist who previously worked at streetwear publication Highsnobiety. In an article published by Hodinkee in December, Crawford broke down the Audemars Piguet’s collaboration with rapper Travis Scotttouching on the watch’s chocolate brown colour – “one of those truly misunderstood hues, but when done right, as proven by Issey Miyake or Tom Ford during his Gucci reign, it is always a barometer for bravery,” she wrote – and the cultural implications of the timepieces designed by “individuals who look different to the so-called watch crowd”.

“So many collectors are scared of new people taking away their most precious thing, and I totally get that,” she says now. “But my background is more in fashion, so I’m really seeing things from a different viewpoint.”

These days it’s slowly, perhaps too slowly, feeling like a new, looser moment for watches, a luxury sector that’s been historically gate-kept by stodgy Swiss watchmakers. (“A bunch of white men in navy blue suits and brown shoes standing around talking about tourbillons (a mechnical addition that makes watches more accurate),” as Crawford puts it, half-jokingly.) However, there is a new guard of collectors, editors and tastemakers challenging the watch-culture norms surrounding gender, status and collectibility – one wrist at a time.

“So many popular watch collectors out there are obsessed with how much a watch is worth – you know, you should care about a piece because it’s so expensive,” says Brynn Wallnerthe brainchild behind Dimepiecea “femme-forward resource for anyone who might be into watches”. “I’m like, no, I’m gonna post this picture of Rihanna or Baby Spice wearing Cartier, and it’s $2,000, because it’s cool to me.”

Wallner got hooked on timepieces while working at Sotheby’s. “I noticed how women were left out of the narrative. I know it’s a male-dominated hobby but come on, women also wear watches and have been just as impactful to the culture.” Case in point: a recent “low-res photo” that Wallner shared with Dimepiece’s 50,000 Instagram followers of Mary-Kate Olsen wearing an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak at New York’s Jane Hotel in 2010 – “pre-Instagram,” as Wallner notes in the post’s caption. “It’s all too easy for people to be discouraged from getting into this, frankly, elitist community,” she says. “I made a decision to respond to the watch industry from a more casual, lifestyle-oriented perspective and be myself while doing so.”

The cult success of Dimepiece has opened the doors for projects like Françoise, an online resale watch shop aimed at women, and Girls O’Clock, a youthful TikTok account with “a fashion editor’s lens on women’s watches”. “With our digital lives today, I think the younger generation now yearns to attach some meaning to it all, and watches carry that sentiment and heritage,” says Trang Trinh, Girls O’Clock’s 25-year-old founder.

The women’s luxury watch market hit £33.5 billion in 2022 and is estimated to more than double by 2033 to £74.8 billion, according to market consulting company Bosson Research. There is still progress to be made, however. “The watches designed for women are, most of the time, thoughtless and just not good enough,” says Crawford. “As a rule, women see through a lot of very bad, cynical marketing techniques.” And Wallner agrees: “There are way fewer women in the watch industry –that’s just a plain fact. I was at an event and somebody said to me, ‘Oh, it’s so great to have diversity in the industry.’ I thought to myself, ‘How are you saying this to me with a straight face?’ I’m a straight, white, blonde girl. In every other industry that does not count as diversity.”

Growing pains are perhaps to be expected as the contemporary watch market continues to rise in both price (the average cost of buyable watches on the internet is 50 per cent higher than just four years ago) and the zeitgeist (Shakira’s recent global hit BZRP Music Sessions #53 features the lyric “you traded in a Rolex for a Casio”). Shifting gears can be traced back to a vintage-watch gold rush spurred on by early-pandemic stay-at-home measures that drove restless consumers to digital resellers. A whopping 92 per cent of Sotheby’s watch sales in 2020 were to online buyers – a 60 per cent increase compared with the previous year.

Today, about half of those buying are newcomers and under the age of 40. Women are not the only ones disrupting the boys’ club, either. It’s not uncommon to catch Bad Bunny courtside at a Lakers game wearing a Nineties-era “ladies” Patek Philippe or see Timothée Chalamet post selfies on Instagram showing off a delicate Cartier Panthère on his wrist. Beyond an embrace of cases measuring under 42 mm, change can be measured in a new wave of amateur online horologists who are challenging the rarefied, often inscrutable world of elite watchmakers, vintage dealers and hyper-competitive collectors. On Reddit, you can see threads like ‘WatchesCircleJerk’ lampoon the hysteria over Patek Philippe Grand Complications that can fetch millions on the resale market. The Instagram account Prophets and Watches has earned a following for outing the high-rolling hypocrisy of humble servants, like the megachurch pastor Guillermo Maldonado wearing an £80,000 rose gold Patek Philippe Aquanaut.

But few industry watchdogs have raised as many eyebrows as Jose Perez, better known as Perezcope. Dubbed “the most polarising man in horology” by luxury mag Robb ReportPerez has detailed likely inauthentic components in an Omega Speedmaster Ref. 2915-1 Broad Arrow that sold for £2.8 million at a Phillips auction in 2021 and posited Adam Levine’s Rolex Daytona as a “Franken” watch with faux parts, to name but two examples of his fearless detective work. “A lot of collectors are actually dealers who don’t really love watches but are just interested in selling them,” says Perez. “Every time I publish something that causes someone to doubt a piece it’s a disturbance in the force, so to speak.”

Lee Candela, who runs the satirical Instagram account Brodinkee (the name being a portmanteau of the words “bro” and “Hodinkee”), calls modern watch collecting “a little bit of a ridiculous culture”. As he sees it, memes gently mocking the near-riots instigated by MoonSwatch releases or the dude-heavy line-up at RollieFest, an annual gathering of Rolex collectors, offer “a bit of solace for people who can’t chase after what’s expensive and popular that at the end of the day they’re not alone”. It’s also good business. Brodinkee now has 36,600 Instagram followers, a satellite podcast called Wrist Cheese Radio and citations in The Watch Annuala bible of sorts for connoisseurs.

Even the serious minds at Hodinkee are in on the fun. “They’ve told me, ‘Oh, we pass your stuff around the office all the time’,” says Candela.

Taken from 10 Magazine Issue 72 – DARE TO DREAM – out now! Order your copy here.

@10magazine

THE ONES TO WATCH

Photographer CARLOS RUIZ
Text ALEX HAWGOOD
Talent BRODINKEE, MALAIKA CRAWFORD, TRANG TRINH, JOSE PEREZTROIKA and BRYNN WALLNER
Photographer’s assistant WILFRED HERNANDEZ
Executive producer CHLOE MINA
Production co-ordinator ANDY MARTINEZ



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