s the third generation of the family behind Hing Wa Lee Jewelers (more here), Ryan Lee, who was born in 1999 in Los Angeles, grew up surrounded by exceptional timepieces and jewellery.
“I can picture a nine-year-old me wandering around the store, captivated by the endless sweep of hands on beautifully decorated dials, and by the tick-tock, tick-tock of tiny, complex movements. I used to clean the display cases in exchange for candy!” His father, an astute strategist and renowned Ferrari collector, would set challenges for Ryan and his sister – who can name the most watch brands? –, planting seeds that would quickly grow.
- At Baselworld with his father in 2015
Ryan made his first trip to Baselworld with his father in 2015. As the months passed, his interest in - and knowledge of - watches grew. The following year, still a teenager, he notched up his first sale, a white TAG Heuer Aquaracer, for the family store. “That’s when I started to build my own clientele. I kept up-to-date with market trends and honed my knowledge by working summer jobs at IWC, Cartier and Roger Dubuis stores.”
- His first watch: a 14k gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual
Beneath the excitement and interest of watches, Ryan knows there is a family legacy to continue: “My first watch was a 14k gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual on a leather strap. It was given to me in 2016 by my father, who got it from my grandfather. I like to imagine the stories this watch could tell and the events it has attended, worn by different family members. There is a strong emotional connection. Wearing it always puts a smile on my face.”
A graduate in business administration from the University of Southern California, Ryan is currently a strategy consultant as well as an associate at Hing Wa Lee Jewelers. He loves to share his passion with people of his generation, introducing them to the value of timepieces and sharing the stories behind them. “I’ve helped a lot of people my age get into watches and find their own style. I make sure they realise it’s an investment that will last a lifetime and beyond.”
As a representative of this new generation, he feels honoured to have been asked to join the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève Academy: “Being part of such a group of enthusiasts from so many different backgrounds is an incredible opportunity. I spent days choosing the watches for each category. I’m really excited to see which timepieces make the final selection and who the winners are. I think there are a lot of potential winners, including young brands that aren’t afraid to break the rules.”
About the GPHG Academy
Created in 2020, the Academy of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) now has more than 840 members, accomplished men and women who believe in the shared destiny of the watchmaking community. As experienced and significant players in the main sectors linked to the watch industry, Academy members take part in the various stages of the GPHG by choosing the nominees and then determining the winners in parallel with the Jury.