Ask a 30 Under 30(ish) Honoree: What’s Your Game-Changing Watch?

Ask a 30 Under 30(ish) Honoree: What’s Your Game-Changing Watch?

As part of an ongoing series, Watchonista asked our inaugural 30 Under 30(ish) honorees what their first game-changing watch was and how it shaped their path in the industry.

By Jessica “J.J.” Owens

As the landscape of the watch industry changes, it’s necessary to not only embrace that change but get insight from the people at the forefront of that shift.

So, with our 30 Under 30(ish) honorees ranging from watchmakers to auctioneers, from influencers to photographers, the perspectives of the next generation industry leaders, despite their diverse backgrounds, yield far more similarities than differences. Last time, we asked our honorees what the watch industry needs to do to attract the next generation of enthusiasts. Today, we ask:

Which watch changed the game and set you on your current path in the watch world?



Austen Chu

Founder of Horoloupe and Wristcheck



“The game-changing watch for me was the platinum Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Openworked Perpetual Calendar (Ref. 25829PT).

“I must’ve been around 15 or 16 years old when I discovered this watch on the internet, and it was love at first sight. I didn’t know watches could be so intricate and beautiful, and even though I couldn’t afford the watch, it sent me down the rabbit hole of horology.”

Check out Austen’s Instagram page: @horoloupe



Clara Kessi

Client Relations Manager & Auctioneer at Phillips
in Association with Bacs & Russo


“Aurel [Bacs] and I had just landed at JFK, and while we were in a taxi on our way to Manhattan for the New York Watch Auction: SIX, we discussed this very subject: How does someone get into watches?

“There are many different reasons, and to each their own, and for me, it was through exposure. Because it wasn’t just one watch but an array of beautiful and intriguing timepieces coming and going from our office.

“When I joined Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo back in 2017, I didn’t know much about watches, and I asked myself how I would ever be able to talk or discuss our auctions without the sufficient knowledge and tools. So, I put myself to work. I listened to the specialists around me, read books, and used a loupe at every opportunity to look at a watch properly.

“Five years on, I’m still learning. But I got the bug, and I am totally in love with watches.”

Check out Clara’s Instagram page: @clarakessi



Ryan Chong

Head of Watch Operations at Bezel


“For me, it was the first vintage watch I ever owned: An IWC Calibre 89 in pink gold with twisted lugs. Wearing it every day made me fall in love with watches.

“I’ve always been drawn to clean design, and the simplicity of the dial layout paired with the exceptional case were the starting point for what I’ve collected since and what I aspire to get next.”

Check out Ryan’s Instagram page: @rachong1



Zoe Abelson

Founder of Graal


“I fell in love with Rolex’s white gold Day-Date Ref. 1803 on a matching bracelet early in my career. And while a good majority of people focus on Rolex sports models, I’ve always loved the brand’s dressier and classic designs.

“The white gold Ref. 1803 was the watch that motivated me to keep working hard; so that one day, I could afford to buy one for my forever collection.”

Check out Zoe’s Instagram page: @watchgirloffduty




Andrea Furlan

Co-Founder of Furlan Marri


“It was my grandfather’s watch: A Rolex Turn-O-Graph in steel and yellow gold.

“He never took it off, with the only exceptions being the few times he allowed me to draw it when I visited him. I was younger than 15 years old. After that, I was pretty sure that my dream would be to design watches.”

Check out Andrea’s Instagram page:



Brynn Wallner

Founder of Dimepiece

“Before getting into watches for my job at Sotheby’s, the only brand I’d ever heard of was Rolex (I’m not exaggerating). But when I started digging deep into the history of Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak, that is what set me off.

“I loved reading about Gérald Genta’s design process and the watch’s unlikely success amidst a range of contrary cultural contexts at the time. I also finally knew what Jay-Z was talking about in his constant lyrical references to Audemars Piguet.”

Check out Brynn’s Instagram page:


Stay tuned to Watchonista for our next installment with more industry insight from our 30 Under 30(ish) List honorees.

(Photography by Liam O'Donnell & Pierre Vogel)

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