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It might sound selfish to say so—and I acknowledge that it absolutely does—but I do learn a lot about myself by interviewing others, especially women. And the reason why we so urgently need to shine the spotlight on female watch collectors, content creators, and brand owners—and in all aspects of the world in general—is because they bring a necessarily different and profound perspective on the why and how we collect watches and create content on them. And I find that women do a much better job relating their path into horology and what watches mean to them than men generally do. Women are more thoughtful, precise, and do not flex. At least that is the case for those I had the pleasure of interviewing for Mainspring. 


And today’s hero is the epitome for why women’s voices need to be heard and why we, men, need to pay close attention. I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Emily a.k.a. @aviantime on Instagram, a wonderfully versatile and creative watch collector whose unique horological photography style is deeply rooted in her professional career, and how she sees art and creativity in general. I hope that she won’t mind me saying this, but to me Emily is, first and foremost, a uniquely creative person before being a watch enthusiast. And if I do my job as well as she does hers, then you will certainly agree with me by the time you reach the end of this article.  

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Thank You, Friend?


As tradition would have it, let’s first look into how Emily got started into this beautiful hobby of ours. She always had a watch on her wrist, long before she became an integral part of the watch community. As a kid born in the mid 1970s, wearing a timepiece was a common thing for all to keep track of time and stay organized. Her first one was a gift from her parents when she was five years old, a Mickey Mouse model she proudly wore throughout Junior High. She continued wearing watches as a teenager, a habit that was perhaps reinforced given that both her parents used to wear watches as well. As Emily pointed out, she never went through a “non-watch phase.” Furthermore, she attended a private high school where it was only through her shoes, rings, and watches that she could showcase her personality. 


And Emily did and still prefers to walk her own path. Something we will get back to in a little bit. 


The “shift” (to watch nerdity) took place during COVID like it did for many of us. At the time, she was already wearing watches from fashion brand ones to more expensive models. But she hadn’t—just yet—caught “the bug” as we like to say. But luckily for the 2,600+ people who currently follow her on Instagram, one of her best friends happened to be a watch guy (@727modern) whose help she sought when shopping for a new timepiece. She told him about her budget ($500 USD) and the keen interest she had for gold-tone watches. Her friend being a G-Shock person—this matters because many of us got started with G-Shocks—helped her find, after a couple of months, a Baby G CasioOak which had only been released in Japan. She jumped on it.

Her good friend also happens to be a proper watch collector who found himself with the endless dilemma of: “Should I sell a watch before buying a new one?” And he decided that he should do so to make space in his watch box for something new, which was perfect for Emily. For a while she had been eyeing his 1976 Seiko Lord Matic Special with linen dial and one day, she casually mentioned that she would love to own a birth year watch (she was born in 1976.) So, as you might have guessed, she bought the Lord Matic from her friend two years ago. (We’re now in 2024 by the way!) This even trade of a watch for money happened again later when she bought a Tudor Black Bay from him. 


What I found to be particularly humane about how she got started is the fact that Emily’s friend was her first watch friend. Although he helped her find the Baby G, he didn’t push her to go one direction or another. He knew what she liked and how many dollars she had in her watch purchasing budget. They like similar watches—obviously otherwise she wouldn’t have bought two from him—but they don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to horology. By seeking his help, her goal was to make an informed purchase and he seemed to have been delighted to educate and inform her. Take it for what it is but we all have had friends who, one way or another, told us what we “should” buy. Haven’t we? 

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Watches As a Mean for Self-Expression


Since we don’t need to wear watches to properly operate as human beings, we choose to wear them for one of several reasons. Male and female watch collectors tend to buy and strap timekeeping devices on their wrists because they wish to express something about who they are. For a very long time, my male lizard brain believed that this was mostly true for men as we don’t wear make-up or jewelry, and that we can only express ourselves through our clothes and watches. But, wait a minute, isn’t that true for women as well? Yes they do wear jewelry and make-up, and some express their personality through both outlets. But not all do as women too—and especially them—are expected to dress in certain ways in certain situations. 


Because the male brain cannot rid itself of the idea that women can wear clothes which make them feel good in their own body without becoming sexy, in many cases they too express their personality through their accessories. Going back to our protagonist, what watches mean to Emily today and what they meant when she was younger has changed, although one element has remained constant: watches are for Emily a powerful way to express who she is. As we already know, attending a private high school meant that she could use her watch to stand out from the crowd since she wore a uniform. And she still sees watches as having the same power nowadays. But what is different is how horology has given her two ways in which to express who she is. 

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First, to non watch people, Emily is a watch person. By experience, women who wear G-Shocks are part of our community and so wearing her watches indicates to others that she is a watch collector. Second, within the watch community, Emily found that wearing the watches that she wears helps make her stand out from the crowd. Indeed, where a majority of watch enthusiasts specialize in a type of timekeeping device—like yours truly who is an avid tool watch person—Emily has eclectic tastes in horology and so it’d be almost impossible to label her as being X or Y type of watch person. Her open mind and curiosity for vintage Seiko’s to robust Tudor Black Bays is what define her as a watch enthusiast. 


Yes, Emily does not like to be like everybody else and I think it’s awesome. 

The Intersection of Watches and Work


What is impossible to determine by simply looking at Emily’s Instagram feed is what she does for a living. And I for one was excited to learn that she’s a professional dance teacher and choreographer. Excited because learning this information helped me better understand who she is, how she collects watches and, more specifically, how she photographs them. But we will get back to this in a little bit. As a dance teacher and choreographer, Emily got into the habit of using her timekeeping devices to track her students' warm-up exercises instead of gazing at the wall clock. This made it possible for Emily to evolve through the room and to be more present for her students. In the studio, she often wears a G-Shock as they are the most worry-free watches she owns. 


Throughout my 40-year life career, I danced maybe a total of 10 hours so I ain’t the right person to talk about this subject, but Emily was generous enough to share a tremendous amount of information about the types of dances she learned and the ones she now teaches and creates choreographies for. (I could write a separate article on the subject.) And what she now focuses on will further explain who she is and how she shoots watches. Today she mostly does modern dances which is anything but ballet and ballroom dances, the latter being all codified styles of dances that use limited vocabulary. Modern dancing, on the contrary, has an endless vocabulary and so Emily’s work can be as varied as there are microbands on the market today. 

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Her Watch Collecting Habits


As we alluded to already, Emily is not the type of watch person who only collects one genre of watches, or to only wear watches that have bright dials or unusual case shapes. At the time of writing, Emily has something like 20 watches ranging from Casio G-Shocks and a Tudor Black Bay to microbrand watches such as Brew, Baltic, and Timeless Watches. She has round watches, rectangular watches, gold-tone watches, smaller watches and bigger ones. Therefore, Emily aims for variety because she prefers to have watches for all occasions. Whether she’s teaching a dance class, creating a new choreography, or going out on the week-ends and attending watch events. Her collection must be constructed in a way that it matches all facets of her personality. 


When she dances she does prefer to wear G-Shocks as they are robust, lightweight, and resistant to shocks and sweat. (Remember, I only danced for a total of 10 hours in the entirety of my life and I did break a sweat!!) Do you recall the Tudor Black Bay she bought from her good friend? It was “sold” to her as being a robust timepiece that could definitely handle life inside a dance studio. But that is not the type of robustness she looks for when picking a watch to dance. And although she has eclectic tastes in watches, there are a couple of red flags that do dictate what she buys, for example when a watch has a tiny crown which renders its operation difficult. Generally, however, and as you could have guessed it, Emily mostly goes by a feeling which makes sense given the variety of her watch collection. 


As I only do when interviewing female watch enthusiasts and collectors, I wanted to know where Emily buys her watches from. Because, in the previous articles I’ve written about Sophie, Erika, and Anna, it is clear that (primarily) male sales people at watch boutiques do not question their neanderthal brain processes that equal woman to small and diamond-set watches when welcoming female watch enthusiasts in their stores. However, Emily mostly buys her watches online which means that she doesn’t deal with male misogyny in stores. On a somewhat related point, Emily told me of a time where she commented on an article written by Worn & Wound’s Zach Kazan on a salmon dial Brew Retromatic which she ended up buying from him.  


So it is clear that Emily is in the unique situation of buying watches from people she knows—her friend who sold her the Seiko Lord Matic and Tudor Black Bay—and now from friends and acquaintances she’s met through her new passion.

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The Evolution of Emily's Watch Photography


We now know that Emily is a professional dance teacher and choreographer and an avid watch collector with eclectic tastes. But we haven’t talked about her watch photography career which started barely a year ago. So the year was 2022 when Emily began talking to her best friend about watches, and so the year was 2023 when she created a dedicated Instagram account for horology. (Again, at the suggestion of her friend.) But her friend—a guy—made sure to point out that there are very few women who collect watches and even fewer who create content on them. This was what convinced Emily to go for Instagram and I, along with the 2,600+ people who currently follow her, am glad she did so. Now, a year later, Emily focuses on her creativity as being Emily, not necessarily as being a woman. 


When she first started photographing watches and posting on Instagram, she wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do because most content creators (men) would follow specific mechanics and trends: perfectly-lit flat-lays with too many coffee beans or knives; badass wrist shots taken while “hiking”; or top-down wrist shots captured while standing by an opaque curtain. Just like Emily wanted to stand out in high school by wearing a cool watch, she wanted to be different on Instagram but it took her a little while to find her groove. Unlike many others, Emily did not delete her first posts which showcase a classic and somewhat restrained composition. She loves the fact that anyone can study the evolution of her coming out as a creative person on social media. 


In other words, Emily did not want to take the over-edited “every man pocket shot” as she told me. 

The truth to the matter is that Emily felt like an imposteur at the beginning of @aviantime because she didn’t know what to post about and didn’t want to replicate what others were doing, especially men. Being an artist in her regular life feels natural and she thought that people wouldn’t be receptive to what she would be posting on Instagram, and so she started by photographing watches in a way that  were not “her”. But overtime she became comfortable creating her own compositions and coming up with her own visual photographic vocabulary. This intimately relates to her career as a dancer and photographer as she now specializes in modern dances which are, by definition, freeform. 


Surprisingly to me and perhaps to you as well, Emily described herself as being an introvert except when she’s dancing. While some prefer to express themselves with words—like I do—Emily prefers to do so by way of physical movement. Dancing is, as she explained to me, also very much of a visual art which is something that she finds again when photographing watches. When further discussing the topic of dancing and her work, she shared that she mostly dances to moody tunes and that the choreographies she creates also orbit around that theme. Dancing is a cathartic, creative method of self-expression through which she processes her thoughts and ideas. And now find the same moodiness in her watch photography, as well as the absence of photographic codes which I referred to earlier. 

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Conclusion: "I'm sure I'm not for everybody"


More than being a female watch enthusiast and collector, a dancer and choreographer, and now a popular content creator on Instagram, Emily is one of the most authentic and sincere people I’ve met in our niche world of horology. And that is why earlier I said that I learn a lot about myself when writing about others, especially women. Emily proves that women are more authentic and honest, direct and blunt than men are as they don’t feel the need to flex. Emily photographs what she likes and shows that she likes to photograph, for her own pleasure and in her own ways, following her inspiration and intuition. Unlike many of us, she doesn’t photograph to make someone else happy or with the hope of gaining more followers. 


As she explained when talking about dancing, she doesn’t want to spoon-feed her audience by providing them with a precise explanation or origin story for a choreography, or by dictating how they should feel when seeing her work. She wants people to feel something genuine and organic when they watch dances she’s created. And I would say that it is her unique style of photographing watches which attracted me and many others to her Instagram account. Indeed, I feel a lot of my own emotions when looking at her photographs, and even though her emotions and mine are not the same in that context, she does prompt me to have many and to embrace them, unlike the millions of codified wrist shots, flat-lays, and documentary-style captures we see too many of on Instagram every day. 


I invite you to check out Emily’s awesome Instagram account @aviantime and to give her a follow. 


Thanks for reading. 

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