Watchonista’s 30 Under 30(ish) List for 2024

Watchonista’s 30 Under 30(ish) List for 2024

Our 30 Under 30(ish) List is back with our third annual round-up of 30 people under (and sometimes people a little bit older than) 30 who we believe are changing the face and culture of the watch world for the better.

By Watchonista

Watchonista is proud to present our third annual round-up of interesting, intriguing, and innovative people under 30(ish) in the watch community today.

The world of luxury goods (and timepieces) has seen a lot of change (Corporate shakeups! Scandals! Layoffs!) since our last list was published, but we’re happy to see our past honorees have weathered the storms. And we’re confident that this year’s cohort is ready to help steer our industry into a brighter future.

So, without further ado, Watchonista presents, in alphabetical order, the 30 Under 30(ish) class of 2024!

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FRANK AFFRONTI

( @frendymgee )

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PHOTOGRAPHER AND PARTNER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT WATCHCLICKER

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A horological allrounder, Denver-based Frank Affronti’s special set of skills helps illustrate the intersection between watchmaking and adventure.

Through his photographs, enthusiasts can picture themselves wearing their watches while hanging from cliffs or diving into deep blue oceans. At the same time, his reviews on WatchClicker (and on 40 & 20: The WatchClicker Podcast), give one a good sense of why watches make great partners as one navigates life.
 




NICOLAS AMSELLEM

( @ontherocks )

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WATCH AND CLOCK EXPERT

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Provenance is everything in the secondary market, which is why we need people like Nicolas Amsellem to help educate and guide us on our collecting journey.

What makes Nicolas so special? Well, for starters, his expertise in the history of mechanisms, materials and manufacturing techniques specific to each watchmaking house gives Nicolas a superpower: sniffing out counterfeits.

Moreover, Nicolas’ vintage watch sales platform, Les Rhabilleurs, also provides a wide range of videos and articles that share his technical and historical knowledge with the masses in an unpretentious, highly approachable way.
 




JEAN ARNAULT

( @arnaultjean )

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HEAD OF WATCHES AT LOUIS VUITTON

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Born in 1998, Jean Arnault, the youngest of LVMH Founder Bernard Arnault’s children, has had an excellent 12 months. After being appointed Director of Watches at Louis Vuitton, his first order of business was to present his first major project, the reimagined Tambour, during the Paris Couture Shows in June 2023.

At the same time, Arnault also dropped a bombshell by limiting the Louis Vuitton stores that stock watches, bumping up prices, and retiring 130 timepieces from the brand’s catalog. It was a gutsy move, to say the least.

More recently, in June 2024, the Arnault-run Louis Vuitton watch division released a new take on the classic Escale that has everyone talking about dress watches again.

“We’re not going to make a ton of money with this,” Arnault told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s not going to be highly profitable at all, but it’s really about making sure that we switch the message completely.”
 




SCARLETT BAKER

( @scarlintheshire )

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JOURNALIST

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Scarlett Baker is a writer, an editor, and a bit of a bon vivant. Based in London, she brings together the worlds of fashion, watches, and social commentary.

Member of the 2024 GPHG Academy, Watch Editor for Highsnobiety, and a contributor to GQ US, GQ UK, and Wonderland Magazine, Baker is committed to championing a space for women and younger people in the world of watches. In short, she makes watch lovin’ fun!
 




GEORGIA BENJAMIN

( @georgiabenj )

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COLLECTOR, INFLUENCER, AND WRITERr

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There’s no denying the power of the newsletter as a media platform. This is especially true in watch media because it allows writers to explore their horological obsessions, no matter how niche, without being beholden to pressure from brands or publishers.

Writer of one of our favorite Substacks, Watch Bestie, Georgia Benjamin’s unfiltered enjoyment of watches instantly captivated us. And we went into full-on crush mode when she shared photos of herself styling a Cartier watch and cufflinks as a button on a pair of jeans on her Instagram page.
 




SIMON BRETTE

( @simon_brette_watches )

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WATCHMAKER

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Very few folks have a hit with their first creations (after all, there is a reason it’s a well-worn trope that most artists only become famous after they die). Simon Brette, however, has a smash with his first (and so far, only) solo effort: the Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition.

It’s not like he is a complete newbie – Brette was a driving force behind the launches by renowned indies like Chronode, MB&F, and more. However, all of his work for other brands culminated in last year’s sold-out subscription model. We can’t wait to see what’s next!




BEN COOK

( @benswatches )

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SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT CREATOR AND
PODCAST CO-HOST

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In just two years, Ben Cook, New York’s finest WatchTokker, has carved out his unique online niche as a supporter of affordable and accessible watches.

Cook’s quirky content delivery quickly endeared him to a large audience. So much so, in fact, that this lifelong watch fan can now support himself with his videos. He’s also broadening his content empire as one-third of the highly entertaining Wrist Enthusiast Radio podcast.
 




SAMIYA CUSMAN

( @didyouclockthat )

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INFLUENCER

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Relatively new to the watch world, Samiya Cusman started her Instagram page to explore and explain horological history beyond the oft-repeated stories we all know.

A reflection of her own interests and research, Cusman’s voice is authentic, and we love how Cusman links watches with fashion and photography.
 




THOMAS FLEMING

( @thomasafleming )

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FOUNDER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF FLEMING WATCH

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A graduate of Stanford University with a B.S. in Management Science and Engineering, Thomas Fleming is a long-time watch obsessive whose dream of starting his independent watch brand took shape during the pandemic.

Full of ideas for new designs and concepts and novel ways of realizing them, Thomas assembled an all-star team around himself to help bring his creations to life.

Finally, after over three years of development, Fleming debuted the brand – Fleming Watch – and its first watch – the Series 1 Launch Edition – in early 2024.
 




OLIVIER GANTENBEIN

( @0liiviier )

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HEAD OF HAUTE HOROLOGY AT BUCHERER

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Olivier Grantenbein started as a watchmaker trained in high-end movements (specifically perpetual calendars). At the same time, he also identified as a collector and soon switched lanes and drifted into sales.

As if that wasn’t enough to prove he couldn’t be boxed in, he began collaborating with retailers to host events and collector dinners all over the world.

Now with Bucherer, Gantenbein’s curiosity and adaptability are still being put to good use as he continues to develop, implement, and oversee the luxury retailer’s global Haute Horlogerie and Masterworks strategy.
 




VIKI GARCIA

( @vikigarcia )

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COLLECTOR AND WARDROBE STYLIST

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After years of working as a dedicated client advisor in the watch industry, Viki Garcia is leaning into her passion for watches and community by cultivating a safe space for women to thrive in the industry.

Moreover, she also offers advisory services to first-time and season buyers alike, while her Instagram followers often take inspiration from Garcia’s mood boards.

From high glam to hiking trips, it’s always great to see women wearing watches across a range of activities.
 




GUILLAUME GAULIS

( @guillaumegaulis )

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PRESIDENT & WATCH RESTORER AT L’ATELIER DU TEMPS

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We’ve written about the worldwide watchmaker shortage, so, of course, we’re going to champion a young person like Guillaume Gaulis (President of L’Atelier du Temps), who is dedicated to keeping our old timepieces ticking.

Gaulis’ Instagram page gives us an idea of what it’s like to be the Anthony Bourdin of horology, working from his watch restoration workshop at the Saint-Ouen flea market and taking us on a tour of his cabinet of curiosities with an infectious joie de vivre to help us discover a whole new world of tradition, skills, and style.
 




C’QUON GOTTLEIB

( @cq_thewatchguy )

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CO-FOUNDER OF CPTIME

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Born on Saint Thomas, C’Quon Gottlieb has worked in many roles across the industry, so it is no wonder he describes himself as an “unpredictable leaf floating in the wind of the watch industry.”

However, his most important contribution is his own collectors group called CPTime, which brings its members from across the globe together to meet up, visit manufactures, and explore watch fairs.
 




ALEXANDRE HAZEMANN

( @hazemann_watches )

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WATCHMAKER

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Alexandre Hazemann, one of our youngest 2024 honorees, earned his place on this year’s list by winning the 2023 F.P.Journe Young Talent Competition, which helps students and recent graduates establish themselves in independent watchmaking. Many apply, but only a few winners (as determined by such horological giants as François-Paul Journe and Philippe Dufour) take home the CHF 50,000 prize.

Hazemann’s entry was what the business calls a school watch – a project made as part of his seventh and final year of study of watchmaking at the Lycée Edgar Faure in Morteau, France. The Swiss student’s project was the AH.02 Signature, a 42mm timepiece with a stainless steel case that chimes as the hours pass and also sports a jump hour complication.

Hazemann is currently continuing his studies in his home country of Switzerland in the workshops of Emmanuel Bouchet.
 




KARISSA

( @watchandwoman )

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COLLECTOR AND INFLUENCER

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With over 12,000 Instagram followers, Karissa is a rabid Rolex fan who started her Instagram account so she could “nerd out” with fellow enthusiasts. Now, her hobby has grown into a side hustle that includes a line of colorful watch rolls, available at hercalley.com.

We’ve also enjoyed following along as the Miami-based collector falls down the horological rabbit hole with deep dives into Jacob & Co., IWC, and Grand Seiko.
 




JEAN-LUC KAMAU KARLI

( @wristcheck.switzerland )

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ENTHUSIAST

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No matter how long you’ve been around watches, you’ll never feel jaded while you spend time with people like the Zürich-based Jean-Luc Kamau Karli. He is not a “nepo baby,” nor is he a dealer. He’s just a guy who loves timepieces and is fortunate enough to live in Horology Heaven (a.k.a. Switzerland).

More importantly, his popular Instagram account, which showcases his journey into the history of high-end watches is infectious. Plus, Kamau Karli has one of the smoothest wrist rolls in the game.
 




KENNETH KUAN

( @delugs )

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STRAPMAKER

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Watch enthusiasts are quicker to adopt change than watchmakers. That is why we’ve seen such a sharp rise in the interest surrounding aftermarket straps.

Luckily for us, Kenneth Kaun’s Singapore-based brand, Delugs, checks all the boxes for what modern buyers want in a new pair of straps: quick change bars, innovative and comfortable materials, and excellent quality.

Kuan presented Ed Sheeran with a bespoke strap earlier this year, but Delugs bracelets and straps have built its own faithful following because they allow enthusiasts to personalize their timepieces.
 




LUCAS

( @mr.nice.watch )

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PODCASTER

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Lucas is a social media polymath, beginning his journey through the online watch world via Facebook groups in 2017. Then, he and two friends started the German-language podcast UhrTalk in 2020.

And, if your Deutsche ist nicht so gut, you can always follow his Instagram, where he shares his passion and fascination for haute horology through lovely pictures.
 




JAMES MA

( @jamesma.illustration )

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ILLUSTRATOR

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Born in Britain and currently living in Toronto, James Ma has captivated collectors and brands like Breitling, Favre-Leuba, and Armin Strom with his highly detailed, live-action (via his YouTube channel) drawings of watches.

As we wrote in our profile of Ma in September 2023: “There’s something immensely satisfying about watching James’ process live or on video. The works are so detailed that it’s a bit like watching a high-wire act – one slip of the pencil and hours of work could be lost. And if you’re into ASMR, there’s the gratifying sound of perfectly sharpened pencil lead scratching against the tooth of the Arches paper.”
 




CHARITY MHENDE

( @pulseonthewrist )

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COLLECTOR

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Charity Mhende, who, like her fellow honoree Scarlett Baker, is also a member of the 2024 GPHG Academy, has been described as a collector. We see her as a connector who has hosted events with groups like Watch Femme and Complecto.

However, when asked, the New York-based Mhende says that she sees herself as “a history nerd first and foremost.”

We, in particular, love the deep dives in her stories that touch on everything from the history of ring watches to Watch 101s on brands like Franck Muller and their place in the culture.
 




VICTOR MONNIN

( @monnin_watches )

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WATCHMAKER

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Like Alexandre Hazemann, Victor Monnin is also an alumnus of the Lycée Edgar Faure in France. In fact, the two collaborated on a few projects while there. Moreover, through the school’s partnership with Arnold & Son, both students used movement manufacturer La Joux-Perret’s calibre LJP 6000 as a base to create sensational yet very different student watches.

Monnin’s variation is called L’Immortale. It is a little more traditional looking and features a lovely malachite dial. Post-grad, Monnin is going the artisanal watchmaking route to become a prototype watchmaker.
 




ALCÉE MONTFORT

( @maisonalcee )

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ENTREPRENEUR AND FOUNDER OF MAISON ALCÉE

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Last November, Alcée Montfort – a physicist, engineer, and mother-of-two – surprised the watch industry by winning the GPHG Audacity category with the Persée clock, a hands-on DIY package that comes complete with 233 components, 17 tools, and a 150-page instruction handbook, all set in a stunning wooden box.

Upon accepting her award, Montfort said she created the Persée for “anyone curious – and who can discover the beauty of watchmaking by assembling their clock themselves.”
 




RYAN MORAN

( @lockeandking )

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FOUNDER OF LOCKE & KING

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Canadian watchmaking has been flying under the radar. However, there is, in fact, a burgeoning micro-brand scene brewing in the Great White North, and Hamilton, Ontario’s Locke & King is a big part of it.

Still, flying under the radar can have its perks. And, for Locke & King Founder Ryan Moran, being a “best kept secret” type company enables him to spend time with his family and work a full-time job. His philosophy is that patience, product, and community are the keys to success.
 




BRITT PEARCE

( @watch.gringa )

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YOUTUBER

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Britt Pearce is a Canadian living in England who is fully inhabiting a new mood in the watch enthusiast community: anti-cynicism. It’s not surprising then that the stated purpose of her popular YouTube channel is to talk about watches “in a hopefully not pretentious and joyful way.”

We are also addicted to her fun wrist shots and concise captions on her Instagram page.
 




ROLAND PEL & ROMAIN VALLETTE

@roland_armand & @iro_main )

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WATCHMAKERS AT FREDERIQUE CONSTANT

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In 2023, Romain Vallette and Roland Pel grabbed our attention for their beautiful hand-finishing on the Frederique Constant Classic Tourbillon Meteorite.

However, this work is not the only reason the duo made our list. Pel and Vallette are also notable for suggesting this incredibly time-intensive project to the brand in the first place, showing a dedication to the skills required of true haute horlogerie that is hard to find.
 




ANNE DE PONTONX

( @francoise.watches )

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DEALER AND CO-FOUNDER OF FRANÇOISE PARIS

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If there’s one thing that Anne de Pontonx encapsulates, it’s effortless Parisienne savoir-faire.

As a dealer, she has been sourcing and selling the most elegant vintage women’s watches since 2022. Meanwhile, her company, Françoise Paris, certainly helps stoke interest in historic pieces from Cartier, Chopard, and Piaget.

More recently, de Pontonx also launched a jewelry business in February 2024 that offers vintage and modern jewelry for women.
 




ELOÏSE RICHET

( @eloise_richet )

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WATCH DESIGNER

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Eloïse Richet began working as a watch designer at 20, after graduating with a master’s degree from the Geneva University of Art and Design (a.k.a. HEAD). She cut her teeth working at Laurent Ferrier for four years before spending time at Baltic in Paris.

Richet’s fascination with all things horological led her to question what counts as innovation, so she decided to hang out her own shingle as an independent watch designer. Her objective? To preserve heritage while evolving the aesthetic to stay in tune with the times.
 




TONY TRAINA

( @tony_traina )

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EDITOR AT HODINKEE

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Before becoming a full-time watch journalist, Tony Traina was a practicing attorney in Chicago. That’s when he became fascinated with vintage watches. This led to his pioneering weekly newsletter, Rescapement.

Tony now covers the whole spectrum of horology but still carries the torch for vintage at every price point (particularly when they are weird or offbeat). He loves to rummage around every corner of the collecting world, weaving together the threads of tradition and heritage in watches.
 




MARCUS ADOLF

( @markadolf )

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FOUNDER OF PERPETUAL MOTION PICTURES

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Filmmaker, photographer, and Founder and Creative Director of Perpetual Motion Pictures Marcus Adolf splits his time between New York and Geneva. Still, he never loses his focus on creating character-driven films across various genres, ranging from fashion to nature documentaries.

However, his short films are particularly captivating because of his ability to draw a personal connection with his subjects. Our favorite is Marcus’ highly-relatable “Stories of Collectors” YouTube Series about watch aficionados and their emotional connections to their watches.

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