September 30, 2022
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STOCKHOLM — Lydia Winters moved right here from Florida in 2011 for a dream job within the video gaming business: director of enjoyable for what now could be the phenomenally profitable sport Minecraft. By 2021, she had determined to tackle one other world additionally historically dominated by males: horology.

Her Instagram feed, @winters.watches, is in homage to her rising watch assortment and has greater than 8,900 followers. It combines her love of pictures — she as soon as was an expert photographer — with a ardour for watches.

“I assumed: ‘I’m going to take photographs that I haven’t seen across the watch group; photographs that simply really feel very me,’” she stated throughout an interview that touched on her imaginative and prescient for the account, which options close-ups of watches from her 18-piece assortment. “I needed them to inform a narrative, and I needed to take this method of just about prefer it’s an individual, it’s a portrait, however of a watch.”

She fashions a number of the watches herself, as if it have been a photograph shoot in a style journal, whereas different current photos characteristic the timepieces perched on volcanic rocks and nestled in Arctic moss, backgrounds she discovered throughout a visit to Iceland.

Ms. Winters, 34, now travels the world as chief storyteller, what she calls a type of model evangelist for Minecraft, which is owned by the Swedish gaming firm Mojang Studios. The position finds Ms. Winters, who stated she was the primary lady and the primary expat to hitch the corporate, interacting with a number of the greater than 141 million energetic gamers that the sport tallied in 2021.

She is also a part of a rising worldwide group of feminine watch lovers utilizing social media to specific their love of horology — and doing so with out concern of being criticized, ridiculed or harassed.

“This final yr particularly we now have seen an enormous shift as a result of so many extra ladies are becoming a member of the pastime,” Kat Shoulders, who, with Katlen Schmidt, hosts the Tennessee-based horology podcast Tenn & Two, wrote in an e-mail. “And I believe all of us can bounce in and help one another in methods beforehand not obtainable.

“We aren’t afraid to talk out both if somebody, male or feminine, is being bullied or talked about inappropriately on social media,” she added.

Ms. Winters stated that touring extensively for her job has allowed her so as to add worldwide purchases to her watch assortment and to curate unique scenes for her photographs, which she takes utilizing both of her two Swedish Hasselblad medium-format digital cameras. (In February, the digital camera producer named her one among its Hasselblad Heroines, an award it bestows yearly on feminine photographers.)

She additionally makes use of the cameras to {photograph} watches on the residence she shares within the countryside close to Stockholm together with her accomplice, Vu Bui, Mojang’s chief content material officer, who is also a watch collector and photographer.

To accompany her images, Ms. Winters makes use of her iPhone to create tutorial photos that display how she composed every shot. And she or he and Mr. Bui lately launched a YouTube channel, Winters & Bui, that delves additional into the artwork of watch pictures.

“The primary objective of all of it has been to be artistic,” Ms. Winters stated. “After which to assist encourage others in pictures, which is why I shoot all of the behind-the-scenes pictures and publish them with notes on how I did every thing.”

She turned a real horology convert in 2013, she stated, when her Christmas present from Mr. Bui was what she considers her first “critical” watch: a Cartier Tank Solo in rose gold with a brown leather-based strap.

“Then it was like, ‘Now I perceive why you put on a watch.’ I had worn style watches on and off, and my dad and mom favored watches, so I’ve been watch-adjacent,” she stated. “However sporting the Cartier was like — wow, I actually really feel one thing when that is on me.”

“Rising up in Florida, my fashion was basketball shorts and T-shirts,” she stated. “And now I’ve this watch that’s so elegant and timeless, but additionally cool. And each time I put it on, I really feel very privileged that I get to put on it.”

Ms. Winters thought the Cartier had happy her urge for food for luxurious timepieces, however quickly Mr. Bui was asking what her subsequent watch can be. The reply to that query got here a month later, when Ms. Winters purchased herself a Rolex Datejust.

Then, in spring 2020, as the 2 locked down in the beginning of the pandemic, Mr. Bui urged that she {photograph} her assortment, which had grown to incorporate a Tudor Mini-Sub bought for an earlier journey to Vietnam and an IWC Fliegerchronograph, purchased whereas visiting Tokyo.

At first, Ms. Winters rejected the thought, turning her digital camera as an alternative to flowers within the lush environs of the couple’s residence — till winter got here and her topics died. It was then that she began aiming her Hasselblads at watches.

She additionally had began watching YouTube movies produced by the German horology fanatic Jenni Elle, and started corresponding with Ms. Shoulders and Ms. Schmidt, who then requested an interview for his or her podcast.

At that stage, Mr. Bui inspired Ms. Winters to transcend simply pictures by posting them on Instagram.

“When Tenn & Two reached out for her to be a visitor on their podcast, I resumed my fixed badgering,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I assumed that if she was going to be launched to the watch group on a podcast, there must be a spot for individuals to search out and work together together with her.”

Ms. Winters began the account and stated she was shocked at how rapidly it amassed a following. She quickly discovered herself making dozens of recent watch-fan pals and chatting in WhatsApp teams with tons of of feminine collectors and lovers from around the globe.

The camaraderie got here as a pleasing shock — and a reduction. As a girl who has skilled discrimination within the gaming business, Ms. Winters stated she had anticipated to obtain sexist or discriminatory remarks within the feedback part of @winters.watches.

And whereas she acknowledged that she has skilled some chauvinism within the on-line watch world, she stated she felt snug and supported as a feminine social media influencer in a rising group of ladies watch lovers.

“This isn’t watches 10 years in the past, when there have been in all probability just some ladies round who needed to pave the way in which, which is how I’ve felt in gaming,” she stated. “You’re feeling just like the group is giant sufficient now. You’ll be able to let your guard down.”

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