Where Women Are in the Online Watch Picture

For her 30th birthday last year, Brynn Wallner knew she wanted to celebrate the milestone with a watch, but she wasn’t sure which one. While doing research online, she found not only a lack of inspiration, but a lack of representation.

There were many blogs and Reddit threads that, she said, felt very male-dominated. “A lot of wrist shots with cuff links, whiskey and whatever dudes are into,” Ms. Wallner said with a laugh, via a video call from her home in New York City. “I felt like, none of this is doing it for me.”

So in spring 2020 she started an Instagram page called Dimepiece. “Dimepiece is slang for a hot girl — she’s a 10, like a dime,” Ms. Wallner said. “Obviously we’re past ranking women’s hotness numerically, but I thought it was such a cute play on the word ‘timepiece,’ which sounds so comically serious.

But serious was behind her decision. “I’m 31,” she said. “I’ve been nurturing a career, living on my own, I have a little bit of disposable income and I’m at the place in my life where I’m ready to level up in terms of what I own and what I do.”

The page has become a gallery of watch sightings in pop culture, current and past. The images, flanked by sassy captions, include Nicki Minaj flashing a rare pink Richard Mille, Jennifer Lopez from her Diddy days with a Franck Muller Curvex on one arm and a 1979 smoky-eyed Debbie Harry sporting a Seiko. In late August it had around 14,800 followers.

The Dimepiece website followed a few months later, with a focus on informative posts including “The Basics: Watch Parts,” “Four Iconic Watches to Know If You’re Considering Investing” and the First Dimers series, with Ms. Wallner interviewing “girls, gays and theys” about their first watches.

A first watch, Ms. Wallner said, can be any kind — just to get the feel of a timepiece on your wrist — like the vintage Casio digital watches with metal bracelets that she calls “the It Girl watch on a dime” because they sell for around $50. “But if you really are set on a particular watch, you can save money. This can be your goal for what you want to get when you turn 30, or when you get a promotion,” she said, “Men are taught that. A watch is a ceremonious gift; it’s been a symbol for men and I don’t think it is as much for women.”

Her fans seem to appreciate the advice. Hannah Baxter, 32, deputy beauty editor at The Zoe Report, recently sent Ms. Wallner an Instagram message about buying her first luxury watch, a 1979 26-millimeter Rolex Lady-Datejust President, after “months and months of searching, deliberation and budgeting.” She wrote that she “felt so prepared to navigate the process” because of all of the “killer info” on Dimepiece.

“This new wave of young female watch enthusiasts is a relatively new phenomenon,” said Roberta Naas, a veteran horology journalist, author and founder of the website A Timely Perspective. And as “watches have become more universal,” she said, Dimepiece is an example of a community of “women supporting each other, having fun and sharing stories.”

Ms. Wallner — who grew up in New York and, after college, spent five years in Los Angeles before returning to the city — said 2019, the year she spent working on editorial content for Sotheby’s watches department, was the foundation of her horological background.

She also credited many women for sharing their knowledge and encouragement, including Isabella Proia, an associate vice president at Phillips Watches; the Watchonista marketing specialist J.J. Owens (“She’s been collecting since she was a teenager”), Zoe Abelson of @watchgirloffduty and Cara Barrett (“Her Hodinkee piece on why “All Watches Should Be Unisex” made waves in the industry and set a positive, progressive tone for the rest of us trying to switch it up”).

Ms. Wallner operates both the website and Instagram page herself, making a living as a freelance writer, creative consultant and by painting pet portraits. As an influencer, she said, “the paid opportunities I’ve worked on have been with luxury consignment sites like The Real Real or a watch boutique like Watches of Switzerland.”

To her, Dimepiece, which takes up the bulk of her workweek, is certainly more than a hobby, and she wants to build it to the point that it becomes a trusted resource. “Inevitably, as the project develops, I will need to monetize, but I’m trying to be very intentional about how this is done,” she said.

But Dimepiece has prompted some users to send Ms. Wallner what she describes as the “I never even cared about watches before, but now I have to get a watch” type of messages and wrist shots (sometimes from men).

“It never even crossed my mind to consider a watch as a luxury item for me to invest in for myself,” Chelsea Hale, 29, a real estate saleswoman in New York City, wrote in an email interview. But since she began following Dimepiece, she said, she and her friends have borrowed their mothers’ vintage watches to wear them around town.

And some followers have made significant purchases. Hadley Goodman, 22, a client services assistant at Doyle auction house, said she stumbled across the Dimepiece Instagram page right as she was beginning to become interested, and later obsessed, with watches. “Dimepiece helped foster my interest in watches and also helped put a watch in the priority spot on my wishlist,” she wrote in an email interview. “I got my watch, a Cartier Roadster, as my college graduation present.”

Ms. Wallner said she believed women of her generation, who grew up flipping through the pages of Nylon and Teen Vogue, developed a taste for luxury as teenagers. “But I feel like watches haven’t been as drilled in our heads or marketed right to us,” she said.

(For example, she said, Serena Williams, one of Audemars Piguet’s brand ambassadors, is so extraordinary that the tennis star makes the brand’s watches feel “that much more out of reach for me.”)

Ms. Wallner said she particularly treasured the cultural history and stories behind watches. “It’s hard to look at a watch without seeing time and meditating on time,” she said.

She hopes to pass down her first watch, a 25-millimeter Cartier Tank Française she bought for $3,400 in May during a shopping trip chronicled by Vogue. “I gravitated towards the steel. It felt very sexy, it had an edge to it,” she said. “I still feel so special wearing it.”

Since then, Ms. Wallner, who clearly loves small watches, has bought a two-tone 26-millimeter Rolex Lady-Datejust with a champagne dial.

Next on her wish list is an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak with a diamond bezel and a blue mother-of-pearl dial — but “I feel like I want the right moment,” she said. “If I would just casually buy a third watch, I don’t know if it would sit right with me.”

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