At 25, Austen Chu has already amassed a more enviable watch collection than some enthusiasts twice his age. The Hong Kong entrepreneur is the man behind @Horoloupe, an Instagram page dedicated to his love for luxury timepieces, and Wristcheck, an online trading platform for pre-owned luxury watches. Despite the pandemic, in September 2021, Wristcheck opened its first a physical shop at the Landmark Atrium.
Chu’s Instagram page features snippets of life, from TV interviews with Fox Business, tête-a-têtes with François-Henry Bennahmias, the CEO of Audemars Piguet, as well as insights from his travels to Geneva and Dubai for international watch fairs. The watch media defines him as “Instagram’s best-known Audemars Piguet collector”, and “an important voice in the world of watches” in recognition of his work promoting the appeal of high-end craftsmanship.
Despite all of this, Chu still has a hard time calling himself successful—yet. “There’s still so much to do,” he says.
Here, Chu chats to Tatler about overcoming age discrimination in the industry, his failed jewellery business, and how he became the well-known collector that he is. Plus, he teases the exciting upcoming plans for Wristcheck:
How did you get into the watch space?
Serendipitously. I don’t come from a watchmaking family, or from a family that has ever been remotely interested in the watch industry. I guess you could say that I got into the watch space organically via my account @Horoloupe, which I started six years ago. I had no clue at the time that creating this account would be the catalyst for my personal journey into watches.
Describe what you do in one sentence.
I try to make the watch industry more welcoming and transparent for the current and next generation of watch enthusiasts. I am essentially creating a platform that I wish existed when I started to get into watches seriously.
How does your business make a difference?
We are transparent and are also working directly with a number of brands for the authentication of our watches. We make a fixed percentage on each sale, differentiating us from your traditional dealer, who buys low and sells high. With us, buyers know what sellers net, and sellers know what buyers paid. I believe that the future of this market is rooted in transparency and trust, as these elements resonate with the younger generation of collectors, who are fuelling this craze that we see now.
What do you put your success down to?
I wouldn’t go as far as to call myself successful. I mean, I’m only 25. There’s still so much more to do and the world is my oyster. However, I believe it comes down to passion and having a clear north star, which is our long term vision for democratising the secondary watch space.
I know it’s a cliché, but I really cannot stress the importance of relentlessly pursuing your passion when you’re young and taking a leap of faith. I mean, when else can you afford to do that in life?
What are the top three ingredients for a successful business?
1. Vision. The right vision gives your company meaningful purpose and a sense of belonging within your industry ecosystem. I believe that a business has a better chance of succeeding if it solves a real issue. There needs to be a north star, and the vision needs to resonate not just internally with your team, but also externally to all your stakeholders.
2. People. I’ve learnt that the people in your company are what makes or breaks a business. I’m very grateful for my [Wristcheck] business partner Sean Wong, my team members and our advisors. Then there are the other stakeholders in our business, including our consigners, our customers, our readers, and everyone else that makes what we do possible.
3. Integrity. I don’t need to explain this.