Georgina Braham

100 luxury Instagram accounts to follow: Watches

What makes the world of watches tick? Our five-part luxury Instagram series continues with an up-to-the-minute overview of the social media giant’s 20 hottest horological accounts

Alvin Chong is a self-confessed Cartier obsessive. His Instagram account is dedicated to sharing his collection of some of the rarest Cartier watches around. In fact, Chong is a such a loyal customer that the French watchmaker has even created several pieces especially for him, including a stunning platinum version of its Cloche model with a custom blue-and-ivory dial.

Covering topics that range from whether ‘certain watches look better beaten up’ to ‘the story of lume’, Fratello provides some of the best horological content available online. It hosts a podcast and quizzes, and has a section dedicated to answering followers’ burning questions, among the most popular of which are ‘Why do watches have jewels?’ and ‘Is it really OK to get your watch wet?’ Fratello started off in 2004 as a blog by founder Robert-Jan Broer, and now has a team of 20 dedicated staff running it from offices in The Hague.

Daniela Marin, otherwise known as the Naked Watchmaker, does more than admire a good watch — she takes it apart. She is obsessed with the inner workings of timepieces, and her Instagram is filled with brilliant macro-photography of complex mechanisms and minuscule parts of watches by some of the best-known makers, including Breguet, Blancpain, Vacheron Constantin, Zenith, Rolex and Breitling. She also offers beginners’ courses in watchmaking.

Every third post on the Italian Watch Spotter’s Instagram feed is dedicated to celebrities and their watches, whether it’s Elvis Presley sporting a Hamilton Ventura (the world’s first electric watch), or the late fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and his trusted stainless-steel Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, thought to be worth about $1 million today. The other posts feature rare watches and their stories, such as how Cartier’s iconic Crash model got its shape, or why some Omega Speedmasters have straps modelled on the surface of the moon.

The Blackbird Watch Manual  is a print and online magazine produced in Hong Kong by a team of horology experts. As well as covering the latest releases and landmark anniversaries of the leading models, it also explores such topics as the patina Richard Mille watches have started to develop, and how the watch industry can become more sustainable. A section dedicated to pioneers in design extends beyond horology to encompass artists, architects and industrial designers.

Brynn Wallner discovered a passion for horology in 2019 while working as a writer for an auction house’s watch department. Soon after, she started the Instagram account Dimepiece with a mission to disrupt the ‘boys’-club mentality’ of the watch industry. A year later, Vogue  called her a ‘Millennial sensei of all things horography’. As well as posting pictures of what women such as Serena Williams and Sarah Jessica Parker are wearing on their wrists, she also co-hosts the podcast Killing Time. In the first episode she discusses why she thinks women prefer vintage watches and chats to her colleague about a recent, Tag Heuer-sponsored trip to Lapland.

Whether it’s a custom Audemars Piguet Day Date commissioned by a member of the Omani royal family in the 1970s, or a pink gold Cartier Crash with purple numerals made exclusively for the Hong Kong market in 1994, this account is dedicated to the ‘super rare’ category of watches. Each of them has been personally ‘hunted down’ by Joe, the account’s owner, and appears with a brief description outlining why you probably didn’t know it existed.

Dividing his time between Zürich and New York, Edmond Saran writes insightful vintage watch reviews, collecting guides and auction preview pieces. He shares them on his Instagram account, Le Monde Edmond, alongside photographs of his particular passion: very rare Rolex dials. These include the coveted honeycomb, enamel, Stella and Arabic numeral variants. His second love is vintage sports cars, so expect a few images of classic Porsches and Ferraris as well.

It’s no secret that some of the most impressive watch collections can be found in Dubai. Established in 2014, the Dubai Watch Club hosts social events in the UAE where collectors gather and compare their seriously pricey timepieces — sharing images of some of them on social media. The club also hosts regular trips to the headquarters of watchmakers such as Omega, and commissions bespoke watches that are only available to members. Recently, Cartier produced 50 Santos watches with salmon dials and Arabic numerals exclusively for the group’s female followers.

The Asian heroine of Ay & Ty Style wears some very impressive watches to some equally striking locations across Japan, from the country’s best restaurants to its most scenic shrines. She also curates a smart mix: the more established watchmakers, such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, Richard Mille and F.P. Journe all make an appearance, as well as some lesser-known manufacturers, such as Roger Dubuis, Rexhep Rexhepi and Naoya Hida & Co.

The British author, journalist and editor Nicholas Foulkes has a soft spot for watches. His horology columns appear regularly in GQ  and the Financial Times, and in 2019 Simon & Schuster published his book Time Tamed, in which Foulkes examines 25,000 years of humanity’s desire to measure time. His bold taste shines through on social media — and when he declares a watch desirable, the sartorial world listens.

The Watch Fashionista’s Instagram account challenges two pieces of conventional wisdom on women and their watches. Firstly, despite the fact that watchmakers continue to create smaller versions of familiar models for the ladies’ market, many women prefer their larger counterparts. Secondly, it’s OK to wear bracelets alongside your watch — and if they scratch it, don’t worry: it adds character.

The mystery collector behind the account Iceman284912 has a serious passion for unique watches. His posts feature a mix of some particularly early and valuable Rolex models, a handful of the rarest Patek Philippe combinations and, most notably, a number of unique one-of-one watches. Among them are a Cartier ‘wrist clock’ made for the company’s one-time co-owner, Harry Lee Danziger, and a watch shaped like a triangular UFO created by De Bethune, the Swiss manufacturer that produces only 350 timepieces a year.

A hugely important trade show held annually in Geneva, Watches and Wonders is where some of the world’s top watchmakers, including Grand Seiko, Jaeger LeCoultre, Patek Philippe, Tag Heuer, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin and Rolex, unveil their eagerly awaited new models. Its Instagram account has updates on all the latest releases, as well as charting the fair’s recent expansion into China.

The Swiss vintage Rolex collector Philipp Stahl is the man behind Rolex Passion Report, an account devoted to the brand’s rarest watches. Many are one of a kind, and some are undocumented prototypes, so even the most dedicated enthusiast is likely to see something new here. The comments section is also worth reading, with aficionados debating each watch’s details, from dials to bezels, patina to provenance.

Over the course of 11 years, Hodinkee has carved a name for itself as the watch lovers’ online bible. As well as covering the latest releases, it produces beginners’ guides, interviews with collectors, Q&A sessions with the editor, a weekly column about watches in movies, and a podcast series. On Instagram, it provides more than 850,000 followers with a mix of news, great photography and slick videos.

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As the name suggests, Charlie Dunne’s Instagram is dedicated to his passion for vintage watches. He loves researching every model’s history and each timepiece’s provenance, then sharing his findings with his followers. A recent example of his detective work involved tracing the original owner of a rare, 75-year-old Patek Philippe reference 1526, which turned out to have been purchased in Paris by an economist on the board of the International Monetary Fund.

The Toronto-based artist Julie Kraulis isn’t your usual watch lover: not only does she wear classic timepieces, but she also draws them. Her artworks are large, photorealistic and created entirely in pencil. Whether depicting the movement of a Patek Philippe or the leather strap on a Cartier Tank, each picture is incredibly detailed. Kraulis also accepts commissions, if you’re after something special for the watch collector who has everything.

G.M. likes to keep his captions simple and let his watches do the talking. He provides daily uploads of timepieces from his seriously impressive collection, which includes some of the most desirable models from Rolex, Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet — often paired with sports cars, cigars, Hermès bags and fine wines.

Christie’s holds regular watch auctions, both online and across its salerooms in Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong and New York. With a worldwide team of specialists, it has broken many records — but perhaps most memorable was the moment in 2019 when a unique Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime, specially created for Only Watch, sold for CHF 31,000,000 (equivalent to about $31.2m). That price made it the most expensive watch ever sold at auction.