“When people first meet me, they think: ‘Oh, she just likes pretty things.’ But my watches really mean something to ME”
Over the next several years, Thun bought dozens of watches in a bid to figure out what she wanted—and who she is. “At one point I had every Rolex Daytona in every colour.” She seems nervous and hesitates, perhaps wondering whether she’s already said too much. “Honestly, a part of me is super embarrassed about how outrageous I was.” For many collectors, watches are a status symbol but, for a long time, they represented a dark part of Thun’s life, as she struggled to recover from a romantic break-up and move past her feelings of self-doubt.
Opening up about her struggle to find happiness has made Thun stronger. She moved to Hong Kong in 2016 and has become one of the city’s most respected and knowledgeable watch collectors. She wears two of her Audemars Piguet wristwatches for Tatler’s photo shoot: a Royal Oak Frosted Gold Self Winding; and a Royal Oak Openworked Double Balance Wheel. She bought the latter after visiting the watchmaker’s factory in Le Brassus, Switzerland, in 2018. On the trip, she was asked to describe her dream timepiece. “I told them it would be yellow or white gold, with an openworked double balance wheel, measuring about 37 mm.” A few weeks later, Audemars called to tell Thun that the very model she had described had just been made. She, of course, had to buy it.
Thun also owns pieces by Patek Philippe, Richard Mille and A Lange & Söhne, including an extremely rare Datograph Flyback. Made from 18-karat pink gold, the handsome dial comes with an oversized date display. Thun had its brown alligator strap replaced with a playful sky-blue version that has a hot pink underside. Also among her favourites is an old-school Seiko pendant watch made from yellow gold that’s shaped like a sphere. More recently, she acquired Cartier’s vintage Tortue Monopusher Chronograph CPCP Ref 2396B.
Thun enjoys watch-spotting on Instagram and regularly posts pictures of her collection using the handle @lunglungthun. “When people first meet me or visit my profile, they assume my watch collecting is very superficial,” she says. “They look at my feed and see how I dress and think: ‘Oh, she just likes pretty things.’ But my watches really mean something to me. They’ve helped me find myself.” But being a woman in a traditionally masculine watch world isn’t easy. “A lot of guys would send me messages online saying: ‘You’re a woman! How can you afford this stuff?’”
The joke’s on them—misogynistic comments like these have spurred Thun to break her silence and encourage more women to get involved in watch collecting. “As women, we’re always told that there are limited spaces for us as at the top.” She leans forward. “That’s simply not true. And we should be working to build each other up, rather than tear each other down.”