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Daily Grail's J.J. Owens on Watch Collecting

In Bezel's exclusive interview, we sit down with J.J. to explore her introduction to the world of watches, the Cartier Tank with which her collection began, and her earliest encounters with watches ingrained into the memories of her childhood.


Team Bezel

May 19, 2023


8 min read

As the founder of Daily Grail – a new platform within watches “set to bring a bit of enjoyment and enthusiasm back into the luxury industry” – J.J. Owens aims to make watches more approachable for the newest generation of collectors by adding a welcome touch of fun to an oftentimes intimidating space.  

In our exclusive interview, we sat down with J.J. to explore her introduction to the world of watches, the Cartier Tank with which her collection began, as well as her earliest encounters with watches ingrained into the memories of her childhood.

In Conversation with J.J. Owens

Bezel: How did you get into watches?

JJ:  Growing up, both the men and women closest to me always wore watches – whether that be to dinner or skiing. I was aware of their daily significance from early on, as accessories, sentimental markers, and oftentimes both.

Bezel: Are there any stand-out watches particularly ingrained into the memories of your childhood?

JJ: My earliest memories of truly noticing watches, apart from those of my family members, was when I watched any of the Bond movies. My generation’s Bond had already switched to wearing Omega, but I can remember watching the earlier ones with my dad,  and spotting his Ref. 5508 and a Ref. 6205 Rolex Submariners – two grail watches. 

Bezel: What was your first watch and what’s the story behind it? 

JJ: I got my first watch when I was 13. Being a vintage Cartier Tank dating back to 1969, I learned the intricacies of winding and wearing such a delicate vintage piece. Once I got used to wearing that piece and started to truly appreciate watches with the help of my father, my collection and passion grew rapidly.

Bezel: Kicking things off with a bang, we love to see it. Has beginning your collecting journey with vintage guided your tastes and judgment of modern watches?

JJ: I’ve always just bought what I liked. When I started collecting there wasn’t this notion of buying to flip or treating the purchase like a stock portfolio; my dad ingrained in me that you should buy what you like, buy intelligently, and watches are meant to be worn. Recently, I have gotten into more modern watches but vintage is where I started and that will always hold a spot in my heart.

Bezel: What’s your favorite watch in your collection?

JJ: My favorite watch in my collection is a Cartier stamped Rolex from the 60s. It’s incredibly versatile at 36 mm across – the ideal size – and unassuming to 99% of the world, which has its benefits. To me, it depicts why I love watches: there’s excitement at first glance, but then utter amazement upon your second, third, and fourth look.

Bezel: It’s truly all in the details. What’s your go-to watch when the occasion calls for something that demands attention?

JJ: I started to wear a Bulgari Serpenti during Basel this past December, and quickly realized it works just as well with a t-shirt and jeans over drinks with friends, as it does for any formal occasion. It undeniably adds the much needed pizazz to any look.

Bezel: Can you share 3 watches in your Wants on Bezel right now? 

JJ: Of course! 

  1. Chopard St. Moritz Ref. 25/4334-24
  2. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding 34 Ceramic Ref. 77350CE.OO.1266CE.01
  3. Rolex Day-Date 40 Ref. 228236-0012

Bezel: Why do you continue to enjoy collecting watches? 

JJ:  I enjoy collecting watches – especially vintage – because I see myself as more of a custodian than an owner. Some of my pieces once belonged to people I cherish so much, and having something worn so intimately is like having a little piece of them. Plus unlike other accessories, watches were made to last, and as a result the stories associated with them tend to last, as well. I obviously pay attention to the latest novelties; I've grown to really respect the creativity and near calculated level of irreverence we’re seeing lately. Some of Rolex's latest novelties definitely fit into that category. I get most excited when brands do something different. 

I’m also without a doubt fascinated by the craftsmanship and technological side of complications. It supersedes watchmaking and becomes one of the highest art forms. Think MB&F, De Bethune, etc. – it's handmade technological advancement which nothing coming out of Silicon Valley can match.

I used to love the hunt, but now I take more of a laissez-faire approach. If an incredible piece becomes available, I take it as a sign, even if not I’m not actively looking. I absolutely don't need any more watches, so if it's meant to be, it'll be. What keeps the excitement alive for me most is the notion that there’s always more to learn, create, and discover in horology.

Have someone in mind that you'd like to see featured?  Interested in submitting a story of your own?

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- Isaac Wingold, Senior Editor


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