Meet the millennial disrupting the ‘boys’ club’ energy of luxury watches

Meet the millennial disrupting the ‘boys club’ energy of luxury watches | Soho House

We talk to New York-based influencer Brynn Wallner about what needs to change in the stuffy and exclusive world of haute horology

Friday 22 April 2022   By Alfred Tong

At the recent Watches and Wonders 2022 Geneva event, Brynn Wallner, the watch influencer more commonly known by her Instagram handle,, found herself sitting on an all-women panel of industry experts when the conversation took an uncomfortable turn. ‘The journalist kept asking us if we had ever felt discriminated against,’ Wallner told Soho House over the phone from New York, where she is based. ‘I was looking at us, and it’s just a bunch of white women dressed in designer clothing wearing these fancy watches and I was like, how dare you even say, “discriminated against” when there’s literally not one Black person in the room?’

Just back from Switzerland, she has a refreshingly nuanced, self-aware take on her newfound status as the ‘disrupt-ress in chief’ of the pale, male and stale luxury watch industry. ‘It's shocking to me that my presence in this space is considered radical, because at the end of the day, I’m a white, blond girl who lives in the East Village,’ says Wallner, who acknowledges that while the industry was bad for (white) women of a previous generation, the situation for people of colour in 2022 is arguably even worse.

Wallner, a former in-house content producer and writer for Sotheby’s, founded Dimepiece at the start of the pandemic in 2020 and covers the conservative world of watches the same way that The Face and i-D magazine reports on youth culture, or Glossier does beauty products: cool, smart and sophisticated, but always with a sense of fun and an antennae tuned into the pop cultural zeitgeist. There’s an irreverent It-girl charm to the whole thing, which has created a new conversation around watches for women, which understandably, the industry now wants in on. 

Meet the millennial disrupting the ‘boys club’ energy of luxury watches | Soho House

Naomi Campbell wearing a Cartier Panthère Vendom

Meet the millennial disrupting the ‘boys club’ energy of luxury watches | Soho House

Debbie Harry wearing a Seiko

Wallner’s job at Sotheby’s involved helping to bring a younger customer to the auction house, and she initially wrote about young artists. It was when she was asked to do a similar job for the auctioneer’s watch department that she realised women, especially younger women such as herself, were woefully underserved by the watch industry. ‘I wondered why I had never cared about watches before and why I only knew of Rolex, like I literally had never heard of Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet. I was just, like, how do I not know these brands? Or even know how to pronounce their names? And where are the women?’ says Wallner. 

A lot of men’s watch coverage still tends toward talking up a brand’s association with military, motoring and expeditionary prowess, a delusion designed to make them believe that they too can do dangerous things underwater, like blow up submarines, as long as they wear a certain kind of watch (the Panerai Submersible, since you ask). Meanwhile, Dimepiece delights in the fact that Aaliyah used to wear G-Shock with her trademark Tommy Hilfiger dungarees or that Serena Williams wears her Audemars Piguet Royal Oak on a white rubber strap while on court. 

A recent post from Watches and Wonders of the Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Sapphire was captioned, ‘The Hublot Sizzurp’. These are interspersed with cute friends of hers from New York posing with fancy watches in ramen restaurants. Dimepiece’s accompanying website carries a regular feature called First Dimers, in which a cast of cool and characterful ‘girls, gays and theys’ discuss their first watch buys.

Meet the millennial disrupting the ‘boys club’ energy of luxury watches | Soho House

Ziwe Fumudoh for Rowing Blazers wearing the Rolex Domino's Pizza

Meet the millennial disrupting the ‘boys club’ energy of luxury watches | Soho House

Rolex Domino's Pizza Oyster Perpetual 

'I would say, first and foremost, it has morphed into a community where if you’re new to watches, or have been into them for a while and want a different take that’s a little more light-hearted and culturally aligned, this is the place for you,’ Wallner explains. ‘I think it’s paramount that these things are presented with a little humour, because at the end of the day, this is all so excessive and absurd.’

In photographs of ‘First Dimers’, the watch is often presented as the finishing touch of an amazing outfit, the indicator of a fabulous lifestyle and personality, not the focal point. ‘I do not understand Instagram accounts of endless wrist shots,’ says Wallner of the somewhat masturbatory and typically male influencer way of presenting a watch. ‘Like, what information do I get from a close-up of one? I need to see it in context.’

Wallner has been especially outspoken about the watch establishment’s disdain for the blinged out timepieces of rappers, which she views as evidence of the kind of racism that’s endemic across it. ‘If you just look at the watch world as a whole, it’s hard not to consider it like a racist, exclusionary industry,’ says Wallner, who believes that more needs to be done to acknowledge the contribution of hip-hop to the global popularity of once obscure watch brands. ‘When you’re talking about Black people specifically, I feel like they’re severely underrepresented. Jay-Z was talking about Audemars Piguet Royal Oak around 20 years ago.

As well as a more inclusive industry, she would love to see watch brands develop a more nuanced design language for women specifically, rather than the standard ‘pink it and shrink it’ approach we see now. ‘I think inclusivity makes things more interesting,’ says Wallner, who cites Tyler, the Creator wearing a vintage Cartier Crash and the obscure Cartier Tank Obus while performing live on stage as evidence of the bright new future for watch brands if only they embraced it. ‘Kids are in the pit looking at him like, “What is that?” What watch is that?” They do their own digging and bring more excitement to the history,’ she says, which in many ways, is exactly what she’s done for the world of watches.

Meet the millennial disrupting the ‘boys club’ energy of luxury watches | Soho House

Joanna Yuan Gong wearing a Gilbert Albert 

Meet the millennial disrupting the ‘boys club’ energy of luxury watches | Soho House

Aaliyah wearing a G-Shock G-Lide DQ-9000S-2VT

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