The world of luxury watches is notorious for its sense of exclusivity and stuffiness, with a penchant for leaving women out of the narrative. Brynn Wallner and her upstart Dimepiece are on a mission to change that.
Like many millennials in the last year, Brynn Wallner has had a lot of time on her hands to think about what she wants to do with her life. When the pandemic began she found herself out of a job after layoffs hit Sotheby’s, where she worked as a producer on the editorial team.
But instead of panicking, Brynn decided to make the most of this departure from yet another profession that made her feel like another “pawn in the corporate game.”
It was during this ongoing period that she remembered a mental note that had been tucked away in the back of her brain: women and watches. True to her Taurus nature, Brynn got into a steady routine of looking at pictures of watches, going on strolls on the Upper East Side, and “taking in this world that was so foreign to me.” As more time passed, she started archiving rare images of famous watch-wearing-women in action, and then @dimepiece.co was born from the void.
Brynn didn’t grow up with flashy watches dangling on her delicate wrists. She recalls how her glamorous grandmother would often wear Rolex watches, which planted an association with luxury into her subconscious at an early age, a trait that evidently skipped a generation with her parents. (While she doesn’t know what happened to the watches, Brynn did inherit one of her Cartier love bracelets but tragically lost it at the gym.)
Getting a watch was never something that Brynn was taught to aspire to as a young girl living in Hoboken, New Jersey. For most women, the focus on jewelry has always been geared toward memorizing the design of their future engagement rings.
It wasn’t until 2019 when Sotheby’s tasked her with producing the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) series that Brynn realized how far removed she was from that intricate bubble. She didn’t know anything about watches but found that she was really interested in the history behind them while doing research. What Brynn couldn’t help but notice was how few women were positioned amongst the pop culture figures that dominated this scene.
“I realized that there was a gap in the narrative,” Brynn explains. “Women weren’t being talked about in these histories and they weren’t being represented as people who are emblematic of watches or contribute to their status. They’re sidenotes like Victoria Beckham wearing a watch, but she wasn’t part of the narrative in any of these articles and I was like, ‘That’s kind of fucked up.’”
“Women weren’t being talked about in these histories and they weren’t being represented as people who are emblematic of watches or contribute to their status.”
After revisiting the idea during quarantine, Brynn thought it would resonate most with women if she presented a photo of a celebrity or influencer wearing a watch and identified the model of the watch that they were wearing. Then she realized that this would actually require her learning about the watches because “the levels of customization with the bezels and the bracelet and the dial” make them all so unique.
“If you don’t know anything about watches, it can be really intimidating to get into them based on the price point alone,” she says. “Even once you’ve hurdled that obstacle, you’re like, ‘Fuck, I don’t even know what the difference is between these two…How do I know what I want?’”
Since a timepiece resource for “people like us” didn’t exist, Brynn decided she would create it herself. She considers herself part of a certain demographic that goes with its guts when approaching new things.
In February 2021, she soft-launched Dimepiece as an editorial platform with a series of original interviews called First Dimers. The website also serves as an educational hub with information about the anatomy of watches. Her overall mission with this project is to “take watches off a pedestal” so they are no longer this “out of reach, inaccessible thing” within the luxury market.
Brynn acknowledges that watches are expensive but there are so many different types that allow us to start from anywhere. She adds, “The watch world is notorious for being snobby and exclusive which is why Dimepiece exists, to disrupt that whole thing.”
Inclusivity has also been an important factor while building this community of budding horologists. Brynn is aware of the conversations where snide remarks veiled in racism are made with dismissive labels like certain styles being categorized as a “rapper’s watch.” The subtext is that BIPOC still don’t belong in this particular space.
“The watch world is notorious for being snobby and exclusive which is why Dimepiece exists, to disrupt that whole thing.”
“I think a lot of people are missing the mark when it comes to talking about different people representing different brands and luxury items. I’m really trying to be intentional about being like ‘Luxury is for whoever the fuck you want to be.’ There are different tastes and it’s not going to fit into these boxes and stereotypes that you’re really quick to dismiss. In fact, if you’re closing the door because you think it’s a ‘rapper thing,’ you’re losing money.”
Brynn is trying to figure out how to reckon with the fact that posts on the Dimepiece account highlighting BIPOC often receive less engagement. She was peeved when she saw people policing Meghan Markle for the way she styled a gold Cartier Tank Française with offhand comments about how you’re “not supposed stack heirloom jewelry.”
Brynn adds, “There’s a deeper thing here and it’s really on people to make the narrative make sense, present it in a different way, and acclimate people to it because it’s not being done right now and it is really frustrating.”
Dimepiece is still a work in progress but is already off to a great start in terms of the opportunities that Brynn is being approached for. She believes in the power of the niche yielding consistent growth. In February, she partnered with Basic.Space by curating a collection of vintage watches to be sold on the platform.
Soon she’ll be debuting her own column on the subject in Harper’s Bazaar. Her friends have been supportive of the endeavor, treating her like a consultant and calling on her expertise for timepiece recommendations for major life events like birthdays, weddings and divorces.
Brynn herself is still figuring out what she wants out of a watch—but is pretty certain she’s a Cartier girl. If she could steal anyone’s stash right now, it would have to be Emily Oberg’s.
Whether she’s highlighting a new Aimé Leon Dore campaign, reminiscing about Bella Hadid’s rose gold Royal Oak from The Weeknd, chronicling the love story between Tyra Banks and Swatch, or spotting watches on Sex and the City, trust that Wallner is always watching. She concludes, “I hope that Dimepiece can be your one-stop-shop resource for inspiration, information and even making a transaction.”