When watch collector (and former Crane Brothers staffer) Zayyar Win Thein set out to start his own vintage watch business, he knew the demand was there. What he didn't know was just how big it was - within just a few weeks of launching Wynn & Thayne had already sold through their initial allotment of stock, something that was expected to take months.
We sat down with Zayyar to discuss the business's runaway success, how young consumers are discovering luxury timepieces, what got him excited about watches in the first place and where he sees the market going.
Give me a bit of background on yourself and your journey to where you are now.
I’m from Wellington originally and during my time studying marketing at university I worked for Crane Brothers. My tenure there exposed me to quality production, timeless design and a high level of customer service. Those values really resonated with me and I have taken them to each role throughout my career. After my time at Crane Brothers, I delved into the marketing industry and worked for a streetwear retailer, then a billion dollar e-commerce platform and finally a boutique consultancy firm. My interests within business have always revolved around customer experience, e-commerce and how we can communicate products to customers.
With Wynn & Thayne, I feel like I have come full circle. My interests of design and customer experience are meeting my values of quality production, reducing a fast-consumerism mindset and making the most of what is already out there.
What’s your earliest watch memory? What started your passion for watches?
My earliest watch memory would have to be hearing my Casio digital watch alarm every morning waking me up for school. I loved that watch and had it with me from primary school all the way up until high school. I believe it is now somewhere in my parents’ house collecting dust in a box. One of my favourite watch memories was going to the jewellers with my mum and her asking me for advice on what she should buy my dad for his 50th birthday. We ended up on a beautiful gold Longines Presence that he still wears to this day. It’s a great feeling to be connected to these items that have true sentimental value and embody memories of someone you care for.
My passion for horology accelerated quickly thanks to the internet. It was around the time after graduating from university where I wanted to acquire a nice watch for myself. That search led me down the path of learning about various brands, vintage vs. new, different styles and functions of watches. I would read whatever books I could find at the library, consume articles and forum posts online then binge-watch a ton of YouTube videos. Once I began buying and meeting other people that were interested in the hobby, that's when I was able to delve even deeper into my education. Learning from others and learning from actual pieces is the most organic method.
What is it about watches specifically that continues to captivate you?
For me it’s all about the story. I personally think this is why vintage excites me so much. There's already a life behind that watch with a story of its owner or owners, its design philosophy, the industry at the time and most importantly it’s wear and tear. I’m a firm believer that imperfections should be embraced and as a new owner of a vintage watch you’re adding a new chapter to the life of the watch.