atch Appreciation For Women | GTG & Knowledge Sharing | No Fakes & Nothing For Sale”: as the Instagram page of TickTockBelles indicates, something is brewing...
Last December, the platform supporting women watch collectors held its first Get-Together in Singapore on the theme of “Talking Heirloom” watches. “The GTG gave priority to female participants but we ended up having many kind gentlemen collectors come to support the event”, say co-founders Stephanie and Deborah. The duo have also started organising GTGs with watch brands, the first with Nicholas Rudaz, CEO of Franck Muller, at retailer Sincere.
We caught up with them to find out more about their initiative.
Stephanie and Deborah, what are your roles as the co-founders of TickTockBelles?
TickTockBelles is a timepiece appreciation community on Instagram to support women’s interests in watch collecting. We do not have specific roles as we complement each other and work together towards a common goal. We aim to promote watch appreciation as a passion and timepiece collecting as a hobby for the ladies. Our platform provides a gender-friendly environment, particularly for the ladies who are just starting out on the journey. With this platform, we build a community where like-minded women can come together to discuss their watch interests and have a discourse about watch related topics in a safe environment.
Your backgrounds are different from your timepiece passions.
Stephanie: I have been an educator for 25 years and in the recent years converted another hobby of mine, which is brewing kombucha, into a business!
Deborah: I have been in the IT industry for close to 20 years as a sales and business development professional, having worked in Hong Kong, China and over the last decade in Singapore.
What inspired the creation of TickTockBelles and for how long has the community been in existence?
We started TickTockBelles in August 2022. Prior to that, we regularly shared watch pictures and information through our personal Instagram accounts. As time went by, we started to have not just common girlfriends but also female followers coming to us individually discussing about the hobby and watch acquisition. We observed that there was a great opportunity to combine our passion and our array of collections to build a single voice in the watch community advocating for the female watch enthusiasts and collectors.
In creating the platform we analyzed our vision and other foundations. The vision is to forge a gender-friendly watch community that embraces the female needs. Our objectives are to advocate gender diversity in the hobby, build female-friendly watch community and create awareness of female watch enthusiasts needs amongst brands.
Stephanie, you received your first piece from your father and that inspired you to start collecting. What was the next piece you acquired and why?
Stephanie: I have always loved watches from a young age. As a child, I felt like a grown-up being able to read the time on my watch. My first major watch purchase was a Rolex Datejust with Big White Roman Dial in steel. I spent the entirety of my first bonus in my first year to buy that. I equated Rolex as a symbol of success and wanted to reward myself for completing my studies and stepping into the working world.
Take us through your collections.
Stephanie: My collection has predominantly been Rolex and Patek Philippe. I collect a variety of models from these two brands. The last couple of years, I started collecting Cartier watches, mostly the CPCP models because I was attracted to the decorated movement at first, then the watchmakers behind it. I try to collect a piece from every major watch brand. Of late, I am interested to learn more about independent watch brands and possibly would like to add one or two pieces into my collection. My favorite timepieces would be the Rolex Oysterflex in Chocolate, Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 and the Cartier Crash.
Deborah: My journey started with iconic vintage and neo-vintage watch models of major brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe and Cartier. My most vintage watch is a 1960s Rolex Oysterdate Precision 6694. I also collected a few Cartier neo-vintage variations such as the Tank Basculante, Tank Américaine and Baignoire Allongée. In recent years, I have developed a keen interest in Cartier Privé. I was fortunate to be able to add a Tank Asymétrique and Tank Chinoise into my collection. After almost a year of anticipation, last November my Cartier Special Order of a platinum Tonneau with eggshell dial and burgundy Roman numerals finally arrived. This is definitely the crown in my Cartier collection.
What do women want in a watch, and do brands know and understand what women desire? Do all women want pieces that are feminine in design?
Increasingly women are starting to take notice of the watchmaker’s history, craftsmanship and movement in a watch rather than just a functional tool for telling time. I feel that some brands have started to take notice of this shift and have made some changes in the collection they produce. For the longest time, a large number of female watches have been made in quartz but now we see more brands using manual or self-winding movements for female watches. Also, some brands have started to advertise their watches as gender-neutral for both sexes.
While some women love bling and feminine watches, there are others who also love masculine looking watches. Hence many women are now wearing watches that were traditionally made for men. We hear of many women now sharing watches with their male partners. There’s a huge market out there for the female collectors if only the brands would sit up and notice and start to engage more female watch collectors to get to know their brands better.
How did you develop your taste in watches and are there specific pieces you prefer?
Stephanie: My preference for watches has evolved in the last 25 years. When I first started collecting watches, I liked masculine looking watches. I had a few Rolex professional models and a few IWC pilot watches. Then I started to learn about watch movements and bought my first Patek Philippe Aquanaut, followed by the Lange 1. Years later, I developed a liking for blings and started to buy watches decorated with diamonds. I used to like steel or white gold watches but as I grew older, I turned to yellow gold or rose gold watches. Essentially, the aesthetics and quality of the watch are very important to me and they must qualify as “heirloom” worthy. These watches have to be classic and still relevant when my children inherit them and later their children.
Deborah: When it comes to selecting watches, I follow three philosophies to suit my lifestyle: simplicity, with minimal complications for ease of wear; classic, with designs that transcend time; style, with versatility in both casual and formal occasions. I believe these three elements embody modern women: no fuss, staying relevant while looking effortless as we go about balancing work, family and our social lives. In my current collection, 50% of the timepieces are with two-hand movements. The three heirloom pieces that I intend to pass on to my child are the Nautilus 3800, Aquanaut 5065 and Royal Oak 14790.
Through your events, what are the most loved pieces by your community members, as per your observations?
There are a substantial number of our community members who are ardent Cartier lovers. Many are Cartier Tank fans for its longstanding history and timeless shape. In our December 2022 GTG with Heirloom Gallery, most guests wore a Cartier watch. We also have community members who came in their well-loved MoonSwatch.
Watch collecting has been synonymous with men, yet there are an array of female collectors actively involved like you. How has TickTockBelles played a role in more women collecting pieces?
We use our vision as a guideline to engage as many female watch collectors either on our Instagram platform or by meeting them physically through our female-centric GTGs. We hope to become a dominant voice for female watch collectors to express what women are looking out for when they collect watches. We also hope to introduce different brands of watches to our followers and if possible provide them the opportunity of trying on some of the watches they are interested in so that they can make informed purchases.
What kinds of watch brands are you most interested in: artisan, bigger names, independent?
Stephanie: Personally, I am interested in watches with a strong heritage and good branding. I am bought into the marketing slogan for Patek Philippe where you never really own one of their timepieces, you only look after it for the next generation. Hence the majority of my collection are of the bigger brand names. It’s my wish to be able to hand down heritage timepieces to my future generations. Based on my observation, most women like simple two-hands watches by the three big brands namely Patek Philippe, Rolex and Audemars Piguet. However there is a growing number of women who are venturing into watches with complications and a small community of female watch collectors who like specifically only independent watch brands.
Deborah: I like watches that have a good story or history and a touch of uniqueness about them. So with each piece that I collect, I could call out the reason why it is in my collection. While I have the well-known brands’ line-up, I am also fascinated by independent and micro brands such as Ming and Atelier Wen. Another watch that I am most proud of in my collection is the Kurono Seiji, limited to 500 pieces. This gorgeous celadon-like blue-green lacquer dial finish watch was positioned for women to encourage watch collecting within the female community. It was a cause that I respect the watchmaker for, and I was very fortunate to be one of the 500 to receive the watch. Similarly to Steph’s observation, the females who are still building out their collection may start with timepieces with simple two-hands and even quartz movements. As their knowledge matures, appreciation of more advanced movements and complications may develop. Women also like to observe what other women wear. It is not uncommon that women will acquire watches that reflect their fashion and lifestyle.
In the community, what is most prevalent: vintage or newer designs? And from which brands?
For the collectors that are in the beginning of their watch journey, many are keen on the newer designs. These pieces may have more awareness about them, and still be more readily available either in boutique or on the pre-loved market. They may require less maintenance, which is top of mind for many of the watch enthusiasts. Generally, most females prefer new watches. This is also because women tend to buy fewer watches compared to their male counterparts, because we have other distractions such as fashion, beauty and the list goes on, to spend on. Females also tend to be more sentimental towards their watches and not trade in watches as frequently as their male counterparts. Hence females rather buy their watches brand new.
What is the future of Singapore as a watch hub focusing on women?
We are very excited that there is a relatively strong women watch community in the local scene. That gives a stronger collective voice to reflect our input to the retailers/ brands to cater for the female collectors. With more financially independent working women in the city, it has an addressable segment for the brands to expand their marketing outside of the traditional customer base. It’s also very promising that in the inaugural Singapore Watch Fair held in 2022, the organizers had an all-female panel discussing Ladies and their Watches. Steph was invited to be on this panel together with two other Singaporean female collectors. This panel was the only one that was oversubscribed by 100% and the organizers had to open up more seats for it. There is a commitment from the organizers for the Singapore Watch Fair 2023 to continue growing the female watch community and supporting us in our watch journey.
By now, your calendar must be filling up with possible collaboration events. What can you share with us?
More brands and watch retailers have approached us for a possibility to collaborate and host our future GTGs. Last May and June, we were excited to share space and knowledge with Harry Winston, Cartier and Panerai. IWC also approached us for a combined GTG.
What is next for you?
Our milestones are consistently increasing. This year in March, we celebrated International Women’s Day in our first 2023 GTG with a couture jeweller, H.Sena. We are also preparing to launch the TickTockBelles logo and website. We’ve traveled to Geneva to attend Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI) and Watches & Wonders 2023, where we connected with several brands. It was an absolutely fantastic time as we engaged deeply with fellow collectors and people who love sharing knowledge on timepieces. We are also looking to give back through a charity organization that will empower women and hope to contribute to the cause that enriches their lives. Finally, before the year ends, we hope to have GTG with other female watch community groups in South East Asia and in the Middle East. We hope the love of timepieces becomes the bridge to connect all watch enthusiasts across the world.