For Women’s History Month, Tell the Time and Complecto are partnering to highlight 5 amazing women collectors from the watch community throughout the month of March. This series aims to elevate underrepresented voices in the watch industry by sharing stories of women watch collectors and women working within the industry.
Written by Dana Li
One of Complecto’s newer members, Niu-Niu Nie is a New York City based collector who has always had an interest in watches since she was young. Her bright personality always shines at events and her classic style influences her watch collection. After first connecting with some amazing pieces because of her parents’ interest in watches, she has since become a part of the New York City watch community, actively participating in meet ups and conversations related to horology.
* Responses below have been edited and condensed *
How did you get into watches?
Watches have always been a part of my life. My dad loved watches, and for as long as I remember, he always wore a watch. For his first watch he got to commemorate a milestone, he bought himself a 1998 Daytona. He used to joke that he would give the watch to me but because it was a larger, sporty watch, I wasn’t interested in it back then. In the last 10 years though, my attitude and preferences towards watches have changed and I most definitely wish I could have the watch now.
My interest in watches really kicked off when I borrowed my mom’s Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Duetto a few years ago. I really loved having the versatility with both dials and being able to choose the look I wanted with just one watch. At the time I borrowed it, I only really knew of Rolex and hadn’t given much thought about other brands, but Jaeger LeCoultre caught my eye as a surprisingly underrated brand with great watchmaking history.
A Jaeger LeCoultre Squadra Duetto (Ref. 235.8.76)
As a woman interested in watches, I didn’t know too many other women watch enthusiasts and watches were not typically a topic of conversation among other people I knew in my immediate circle of friends. Prior to discovering Dimepiece on Instagram, I assumed the watch community was a male-dominated space where people would talk only about reference numbers and the technical aspects of watches. After seeing such a strong community of women who are interested in the space, it definitely helped fuel my passion for watches even more.
What was your first event in the watch community?
The first event I attended was the Phillips auction in December 2021 where the Patek Philippe Tiffany & Co. Nautilus was sold. As a newer member of the watch community, I wasn’t sure if I was able to just walk into Phillips to attend, but to my surprise, the auction was open to the public. It was definitely a really amazing experience to witness all the interactions and get a first-hand look into how a watch auction operated, especially at such a large event. Since then, I regularly kept up with watch-related news, but it wasn’t until October 2022 when events were coming back at full-scale that I started getting more involved in the community. I attended an open lecture at the Horological Society of New York and WatchTime’s New York event and have been getting to know my fellow watch enthusiasts and collectors since.
How do watches fit into your personal style?
I started wearing watches in 3rd grade (I think my first watch was a Swatch) so I could have a functional accessory. Since then, I’ve always worn a watch, but it hasn’t necessarily been an intentional choice for me to wear one every day - it’s become second nature to me to the point where it feels odd not having a watch on my wrist. I’ve worn a watch through a number of milestone events in my life, from my high school graduation to my friend’s engagement so watches have always been more than just an accessory to me.
I tend to like watches that have a clean aesthetic and can be worn with anything and for multiple occasions. For example, I could wear my mom’s Reverso, which had a white leather strap at the time, with a casual look or dress it up for a more formal event. I don’t think watches need to be labeled a certain way since those definitions can be limiting for someone who might want to wear the piece differently. In my opinion, when you wear a watch, it should be what you make of it. I wear my own Datejust, which is not the most subtle piece, with anything and everything and won’t baby it simply because it’s a more formal watch.
As a woman in the watch collecting community, are there any personal experiences you’d like to share?
When I first started attending watch events, I’d often go alone since a lot of my friends aren’t deeply interested in the space. While everyone I’ve met in the watch community has been wonderful, it can still be intimidating to walk into a room of men as a female watch enthusiast, particularly if you’re new to attending events. Although I’ve had positive experiences thanks to women who have made the space more welcoming for us, there’s definitely room for continued improvement.
On another note, I enjoy how I’ve been able to bring more friends into the community and help them explore their interest in watches. One of my friends has been looking for a watch and we’ve been sending each other watch stories and having discussions about trends and new releases. For newer collectors, I think there’s a lot of opportunity to meet them where they are in their collecting journey and educate them about the industry.
Why do you feel women are underrepresented in the industry?
I think part of the underrepresentation of women within the watch industry comes from the history of watches and how they were designed for women. Back in the day, it was rude to check the time so many of the first wristwatches that were worn by women resembled jewelry and concealed the time. Following World War II, men began wearing wristwatches over pocket watches for functionality whereas watches designed for women didn’t necessarily evolve past its decorative roots.
Before I dove deep into watches, I myself would even subconsciously associate larger watches as a watch more suited for men and a smaller watch as a watch worn by women, largely because of the way brands were marketing to consumers and perpetuating stereotypes of a “man’s” watch compared to a “woman’s” watch. Now, I wear watches that I love, regardless of any assumptions people might make about the kind of piece I’m wearing. For any women who may be hesitant on wearing a particular watch because they’re afraid of what people may think, I’d say wear whatever you like because you can help challenge their notions and help change the conversation on gender stereotypes in the watch industry.
Overall, I do find it interesting that brands are still separating between “men’s” and “women’s” watches given the rise of female collectors and general societal trends regarding gender definitions. I think brands can effectively speak to more women, who unfortunately are not necessarily always viewed as people who would have or want to continue developing a deep appreciation for horology. I can imagine there would be a wide audience that would identify with these conversations, allowing brands to further connect with the growing watch community.
Are you an early bird or night owl?
Moment you're most proud of
My parents have been my personal “chauffeur” for everything, as I’m sure many parents have been at some point. When I finally got my driver’s license and was able to drive them to places out of the country or late at night, it was memorable for me to be able to help my parents the way they did for me.
When do you feel most like yourself?
When I’m with my family and friends, at ease and genuinely happy to be surrounded by so much love
Sports watch or dress watch?
Steel or precious metal?
Watches on your wishlist?
Pink gold Reverso Classic Small Duetto and a mini Cartier Baignoire