Moms Who Do It All (Including Collecting Watches)!

Moms Who Do It All (Including Collecting Watches)!

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, so today, we are honoring our mothers by introducing you to two badass moms who also collect watches.

By Barbara Palumbo

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone, which means that, in the past few weeks, you’ve seen a plethora of gift guides posted online, or, if you’re a member of the media, you’ve likely been inundated with emails from brands suggesting what to include in said gift guides.

And, of course, that’s okay; there’s nothing wrong with gift guides. After all, we’ve done them; we’ve gotten playful with them; and, hey, they can be dead useful.

Still, this time around, I thought I’d write a Mother’s Day article that was a bit more personal: An article involving two of my favorite people – moms, in fact – who also happen to collect watches because there is no shortage of mothers in the watch industry; quite a few even work or write for this publication.

So, since I wanted to think a little outside of the box with this article, I reached out to one mother who knows the industry very well and one whose expertise lies outside of the watch world to talk about their watch-collecting journeys and their experiences with watches, with motherhood, and where they see their collections growing in the future.

This is who they are and what they do.

A Mother’s Work

Kathleen McGivney (@kmcgivney) is, for those who have been living under a rock for the last ten or so years, the CEO of RedBar Group, the largest watch-collecting community in the world and aims to foster the growth of existing collector groups around the globe, further the knowledge and passion for horology, and help brands connect directly with their most passionate fans.

But being a CEO of one of the community’s most influential groups is not Kathleen’s “day job,” which is technology consulting and project management. She is also the Board Chair for the New York-based charitable organization Bailey House.

Oh! AND she’s a mom to a 33-year-old daughter who currently lives in the UK.

Monica Stephenson (@idazzle) is not involved in the watch world, per se, but you may have seen her show up at a few RedBar events or a watch industry party as my plus one. Thus, we’ve deemed her an honorary member of the community.

Monica is the founder of ANZA Gems, which fuels development in Kenya and Tanzania through responsible gemstone purchasing, with ten percent of sales supporting education and entrepreneurial initiatives in mining communities.

She is also a founding collaborator of Moyo Gems, a project that works with NGO Pact, the Tanzania Women Miners Association, and Everledger. Moyo Gems offers a traceable model to bring gems from women artisanal miners of Tanga, Tanzania, to the international market.

Additionally, Monica is on the international Board of Directors of the Women’s Jewelry Association and the Board of Directors for Gem Legacy, and she is the current President of the Board of Ethical Metalsmiths.

Aaaannnnnd she’s a mother of two daughters, one in high school and one in college.

Now, do you see why I wanted to talk to these two superwomen?

How Their Journeys Began

While on multiple occasions I’ve seen both Monica and Kathleen casually wearing a watch I’d gladly donate my left kidney to have, both of them started their watch journeys with simple timepieces that were meaningful for some reason or another.

“The first watch I received was a Swatch, though I don’t remember the specific model.” Kathleen shared. “It was around the time that Swatch watch guards were popular in the ‘80s. My grandfather got it for me, just because.”

For Monica, her first watch commemorated a milestone. “I think I might have gotten a Citizen watch for my high school graduation. It was the late 1980s, so receiving a watch was very much a rite of passage,” stated Monica.

She then told me about the first watch she ever bought for herself. “I vividly remember: It was a Rolex Oyster Datejust two-tone with a jubilee bracelet and a white diamond dial. I was working at a retailer who sold Rolex at the time.”

The First “Major” Timepiece

So where does one go from a Swatch and a Citizen when they’ve caught the watch collection “bug”?

For Kathleen, it was TAG Heuer. “My first important timepiece was a TAG Heuer Alter Ego. It was the first ‘nice’ watch I bought for myself early in my technology career,” she told me.

When I first met Monica roughly twelve years ago, I noticed she was wearing a watch that just about took my breath away. It was one for which I’d give up that aforementioned left kidney.

“My husband has always had a collector’s mentality, even when we could not afford that much. I am very practical. I had a great watch. So I was thrilled and surprised when he gifted me a gorgeous Jaeger-LeCoultre limited edition Deco Reverso in white gold when our second daughter was born,” Monica explained. “I LOVE that I can wear it as a bracelet to many formal events but still discreetly flip it to see the time!”

Mothering Moments

I asked both women if they could recall a moment (or moments) when, as a mother, wearing a watch became really important.

For Kathleen, it was for her daughter’s commencements: “You have to be on time for those so you can get a head start on waiting around for the one name you came there to hear!” It was good advice since my son is about to graduate from high school!

Monica’s reply also discussed her own children’s love of watches. “I have appreciated having a second hand when timing various athletics through the years for my kids – or even for my own workouts,” she told me.

“My girls, who are 17 and 19, enjoy talking about and wearing their own timepieces; Gen Z seems really into watches,” Monica added. “I realize I carry the time around as my phone, but I honestly don’t feel fully dressed without a watch.”

But… What’s On Their Wrists?

Yes, clearly that was an homage to my online persona, but it’s also a question that has to be asked when interviewing any collector.

Monica’s was a no-brainer for me, as it’s the watch I’ve seen her wear most lately. “I wear my Patek Philippe Aquanaut rose gold with brown strap every day,” Monica told me (unnecessarily).

“I received this watch for my 50th birthday as a total surprise from my family. It is the perfect watch for my lifestyle: functional and beautiful; it goes from yoga to most events effortlessly.”

For Kathleen, it’s all about the Brits. “I’m currently wearing the Fears x Christopher Ward Alliance 01 that the two brands created to benefit the Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers,” she told me.

However, Kathleen went on to explain: “What I wear most often varies depending on travel, events, and the like. Most recently, I have been wearing my Christopher Ward Bel Canto quite a lot. Hearing the chime at the top of every hour is a happy little moment.”

And Lastly, Which Watch is Next?

When asked what their next watch would be, Kathleen took the diplomatic approach (while also giving RedBar a much-deserved plug!): “Besides the next RedBar collaboration – which launches on May 15th – I’ve got my eye on vintage Piaget, particularly with stone dials.”

Monica, on the other hand, went modern (while also giving me a plug. Thanks, Mon!): “I think the ones that have most captured my attention recently are those with a rainbow of colored gemstones, and I’m a bit obsessed with an Audemars Piguet Tourbillon.

“I tried on a gorgeous Greubel Forsey at a RedBar event last year, which put that brand on my radar.

“Mostly, I am thrilled with the proliferation of mechanical watch options for women now. Twenty years ago, most ‘important’ women’s watches were quartz. I’m always so excited to follow the @WhatsOnHerWrist feed and see the options!”

Happy Mother’s Day to these two incredible moms and all you mothers out there!

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