A new crop of Internet horologists hope to reset the clock on traditional watch collecting.

 Like most high-end watchmakers, Cartier measures progress in one-thousandth of a meter. 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 2023. 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 stacking-jewelry 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 Unlimited, a pop-up exhibition surveying Cartier’s 176-year history as “the watchmaker of shapes,” featured a ceiling shaped like the dial of a vintage Tank Américaine and displays featuring Ceinture and Santos models of yore.


Instagram: @girls.o.clock 

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—the musician James Blake, the music producer Kaytranada—as fresh ways to flaunt vintage watch faces. Several young women stacked Tanks and Baignoires on the same arm. Mike Nouveau, a New York DJ-turned-vintage watch specialist with more than 360,000 TikTok followers, double-wristed a Cristallor and 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,” another commenter said. 

The break from tradition was by design, according to Malaika Crawford, the style editor of the influential watch website Hodinkee 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 Basel, so I invited a ton of people who had absolutely nothing to do with the watch space,” Crawford says, 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 the streetwear publication Highsnobiety. In an article published by Hodinkee in December, 

Crawford broke down Audemars Piguet’s collaboration with the rapper Travis Scott, touching on the watch’s chocolate brown color—“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 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 historically gate-kept by stodgy Swiss watchmakers. (“A bunch of white men in navy blue suits and brown shoes standing around talking about tourbillons,” as Crawford puts it, half-jokingly.) However, there is a new guard of collectors, editors and tastemakers are 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 Wallner, the brainchild behind Dimepiece, a “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 first got hooked on timepieces while working in Sotheby’s editorial department. “I noticed how women were left out of the narrative,” she says. “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 49,000 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. “So I made a decision to respond to the watch industry from a more casual, lifestyle-oriented perspective and be myself while doing so.”


Instagram: @malaikamc 

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 $42.6 billion in 2022 and is estimated to more than double by 2033, to $94.8 billion, according to the market research 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,” Crawford says. “As a rule, women see through a lot of very bad, cynical marketing techniques.” 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 percent higher than just four years earlier) 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% of Sotheby’s watch sales in 2020 were to online buyers—a 60% 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, threads like Watches Circle Jerk 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 a $100,000 rose gold Patek Philippe Aquanaut. 


Instagram: @brodinkee 


Instagram: @perezcope 

But few industry watchdogs have raised as many eyebrows as Jose Perez, better known as Perezcope. Dubbed “the most polarizing man in horology” by Robb Report, Perez has detailed likely inauthentic components in an Omega Speedmaster Ref. 2915-1 Broad Arrow that sold for $3.6 million at 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 just dealers who don’t really love watches but are just interested in selling them,” Perez says. “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 is 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 lineup 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 36,000 Instagram followers, a satellite podcast called Wrist Cheese Radio, and citations in The Watch Annual, a 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,’” Candela says. 



Issue 02 of 10 USA – DARE TO DREAM – is on newsstands March 25th. Pre-order your copy here



Photographer CARLOS RUIZ


Photographer’s assistant WILFRED HERNANDEZ

Executive producer CHLOE MINA

Production coordinator ANDY MARTINEZ

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