The concept of Wristcheck had long been brewing in the mind of longtime enthusiast Austen Chu. But it wasn't until he crossed paths with our co-founder Sean Wong – who was the last piece of the puzzle – in late 2019 that the project was truly kick-started. The combination of the two's vastly different backgrounds and skillsets coalesced to form the perfect partnership for the venture. It was, as they say, a match made in heaven.
Now, a year on, we've launched our online platform. And last week, we opened our doors in the one and only Landmark Atrium in Hong Kong.
So, today, in conjunction with the launch of the Wristcheck Experience, we sit down with Austen and Sean, who open up about their lives, their horological journeys, and, ultimately, how Wristcheck came to be.
Welcome to Wristcheck.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated by time, and the instruments throughout mankind that expressed it. Life as we know it wouldn’t exist without having a pragmatic way of telling time. I mean, how else would you know when the next Air Jordan raffle is?
I grew up in Shanghai, China, and was raised by a single mother and my grandparents, who happened to be Chinese math professors – really living up to the Asian stereotype, I know – who, naturally, taught me numbers before they taught me my ABCs. Because of this, I learned to tell time at quite an early age, which subsequently led to my mother buying me a blue Flik Flak. It incidentally became my ‘safety blanket’ instead of a conventional toy – I wouldn’t go anywhere without that blue Flik Flak strapped to my wrist.
Growing up as a young watch enthusiast in Shanghai was extremely lonely. Throughout my teenage years, my passion for horology started to grow immensely, almost obsessively, but no-one my age wanted to talk about watches – they all wanted to talk about their crushes in school.
Not only did I have no-one my age that I could relate to and share my passion for horology with, but international watch collecting communities also didn’t exist at the time. The loneliness and desperation in this hobby is what led to me creating my Instagram account @horoloupe in 2016 – which has since proven to be an incredible medium that has allowed me to channel and share my passion with other collectors, enthusiasts, and industry titans around the globe.
“Being a hardcore watch enthusiast myself, I know the pain points for others when it comes to collecting, especially in regards to education, buying, and selling.”
As I’ve gotten more involved in the watch industry as a collector over the years, I started to notice certain gaps in the current realm of all things horological. Even though the current players that exist serve their niche to a tee, there isn’t much out there that welcomes and embraces the next generation of enthusiast – in particular, I noticed a scarcity of truly engaging educational content, and the lack of a safe, secure, and transparent watch exchange platform.
It has always frustrated me that nothing has been done to disrupt and re-imagine the watch space in this new, digital age that we live in. The concept of Wristcheck has been subconsciously brewing in my mind for years, but the puzzle wasn’t quite complete until I met my business partner Sean, and shortly after, in 2020, Wristcheck was born.
Wristcheck aims to fill the gaps that I wish were filled when I started out collecting, through providing a 100% safe, transparent, and educational omni-channel platform for enthusiasts from all walks of life to learn, connect, and to buy and sell watches with 100% peace of mind. We make a 8-12% spread on all of our watches, and we break down all of our fees for the seller and buyer, so you know where each and every one of your hard earned dollars is going to.
"The Wristcheck Experience is an offline manifestation of our platform, and I hope to build a strong community in Hong Kong for the current and next generation of watch enthusiasts and collectors, and to create a space where enthusiasts feel comfortable, unintimidated, and inspired."
We want enthusiasts to congregate with other like-minded individuals that share the same hobby. Through the launch of our physical space, we plan on creating a new-age watch culture both online (through our future content release plan, which includes an array of mediums, including videos, podcasts, and educational material), and offline (through pop-ups, events, and get-togethers).
As we open our doors to The Wristcheck Experience, I want to first thank all of our loyal supporters that have been with us on our journey so far. Without you, we wouldn’t have a business, and you’re all part of our journey in trying to bring in more and more people into this sub-culture we all know as watch collecting. This is just the beginning, and we can’t wait to show you what we have in store (no pun intended)!
Welcome to Wristcheck!
Growing up, I was always into collecting 'things'. I loved trading cards, autographs from my favourite athletes, mementos from places I travelled to, and ultimately, sneakers and watches.
"For me, it wasn't always about the actual moment of acquiring or buying something, but more so the thrill of the chase and the stories and memories that I could share with my peers."
Hanging out with my friends at 6am while waiting for a sneaker to drop at 10am was always a great time, and I’ll always look back fondly at those memories.
I was only able to experience all of this purely as a consumer – someone who didn't work in the industry – up until 2013...
In 2013, I joined a company called Hypebeast, and everything started to change and get even more exciting. Prior to joining the company, I had been an avid reader of Hypebeast and it would be one of the first websites I would visit after waking up in the morning. Hence, being able to work there and see what the industry was like from the inside was truly a dream come true.
While at Hypebeast, I was predominantly responsible for managing and operating HBX, which was the digital and physical retail arm of the company. Through this experience, I was involved in all aspects of e-commerce, from logistics and warehousing, to merchandising, customer service, digital marketing, asset creation (photography and videos), and much more.
I got to travel around the world to meet all of the cool brands I grew up admiring, and witnessed all the exciting things that happened prior to products officially launching on the market. The journey at HBX was everything I could've imagined and more, and I loved every single moment there.
In late 2019, having been an avid Instagram follower of Austen's (@horoloupe) for two years, we were able to meet in person and the direction of my career took a sudden unexpected turn. Having listened to Austen's initial idea for Wristcheck, two things immediately resonated with me.
1. Making collecting and acquiring knowledge about the watch culture easier.
2. Creating a safe and secure environment whereby buying or selling a watch would be as easy and legitimate as buying or selling a property.
As someone who struggled to get into watch collecting myself, Austen's goal of creating Wristcheck and fostering a community of like-minded individuals who are all interested in embarking on this incredible journey into the world of horology was something that really resonated with me.
"Prior to watches, I had gone through a similar journey with sneakers, and because I had a first-hand look at how a company like Hypebeast was able to democratize information from a 'sub-culture' to a greater audience, the opportunity to do the same in the world of watches is tremendously exciting."
I would like to express my deepest gratitude for your support of our platform, and please know that every decision we make, every product we create, every event we organise, only has one goal in mind: to open the door into the watch world for anyone who is interested, and creating an inclusive community of people to share this journey with us!
The Wristcheck Experience officially opened its doors to the public on the 4th of September.
The team at Wristcheck would like to say a colossal thank you to everyone who has supported us along this journey thus far. This is just the beginning, and we are eternally grateful.
Shop 116A, 1/F, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central
Opening hours: 11-8pm Mon-Sun
See you there!