In late December, Jessica Owens, who has been collecting watches for more than a dozen years, decided she wanted to create a website devoted to them that would be, as she put it, “a platform that really welcomed everybody.”
With that in mind, she left her job in January as a marketing coordinator at the online magazine Watchonista and on Feb. 27 she unveiled Daily Grail, a website about watches with a direct approach and colloquial tone, and frequently a bit of cheekiness. (Its web address is dailygrailofficial.com because dailygrail.com, which includes topics like “Alien Nation” and “Cryptozoology,” was already taken.)
Some Daily Grail features are straightforward, like tips on watch collecting and a piece about Jaeger-LeCoultre, which is based in Le Sentier, Switzerland. Others are quirkier, like a scheduled video series featuring well-known chefs who are watch enthusiasts preparing their favorite snacks.
“I want to bring a bit of fun and joy back into the industry,” said Ms. Owens, 26, who is known as J.J., a childhood nickname. “I don’t want to intimidate. So many of my peers, and people who have come up to me, have said, ‘I want to get into watches, but I don’t know where to start.’ It is a foreign language.”
From its initial content, it seems as though news on Daily Grail will be handled in an authoritative but lighthearted way. Information about watch collaborations are being presented as marriage announcements, for example, and posts about discontinued watches as obituaries. Those pieces, with others, appear in a section called “Page 6 O’Clock,” a nod to Page Six, The New York Post’s well-known gossip column. But, Ms. Owens said, she is using a number in her title because there are numbers on watch dials.
The site’s minimalist logo of sleek capital letters on a slight slant and its overall look are clean and unfussy. “I really like to model the feel of the website off my personal style, which is very simplistic,” Ms. Owens said, “because I want the watches and the content to speak for themselves.” (During an interview at a restaurant near her Upper East Side apartment in New York City, Ms. Owens wore a loosefitting black T-shirt and brown leather trousers, accessorized with a gold and steel seven-coil Bulgari Serpenti.)
Ms. Owens expects to write about half of Daily Grail’s content from an office in a spare bedroom at home, with the rest coming from watch experts, dealers and industry executives as well as a cross-section of other watch fans from outside the horological world. She is the only person working full-time on the site; James Kong, a photographer whose clients have included Hodinkee and Grand Seiko, is its head of content, and will oversee all photos taken for the site as a part-time employee.
While Ms. Owens is underwriting the initial costs, she said revenue will come from the paid sponsored content that will run in addition to the news content. Articles are scheduled to begin appearing in several weeks and she does plan to add advertisements later this year.
The site’s name, Ms. Owens said, is an amalgamation of “daily wear” and “holy grail” — a blend of the term for a watch suitable for wearing every day and the industry’s current favorite buzzword for a coveted timepiece.
Ms. Owens grew up in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood. Her passion for watches started in childhood, in large part as a shared interest with her father, an entrepreneur with an engineering background who collects vintage timepieces from brands like Heuer and Rolex.
“I think my father was not used to having someone like me around,” she said. “I’m very social. I can talk to anybody, and I think he’s very different than that. I think he had trouble — and I did as well — finding common ground and a common thing we could bond over.”
When Ms. Owens was 12, he gave her a 20-millimeter gold Cartier Tank wristwatch that had to be wound manually, her first timepiece. “He was like, ‘You need to learn how to take care of this. You need to learn that if you’re too rough on it, it will get broken.’ That just gave me such a love of the intricacy,” she said. She now has about two dozen watches, including two Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks and a two-tone 26-millimeter Patek Philippe Nautilus.
She developed an entrepreneurial spirit too: As a teenager, she started a business to help local vintage clothing stores market themselves on Instagram.
After graduating from high school in 2015, she initially attended the University of Chicago, but transferred to N.Y.U. Stern School of Business, where she earned an undergraduate degree in 2019. By her junior year, she said, “I had gotten more and more into watches and I thought, ‘Hey, I could actually do this as a career.’”
During that time, she began working as a viewing assistant at Phillips’s watch auctions in New York City, helping to show timepieces to prospective bidders. “It was my dream job, because I got to be around these once-in-a-lifetime watches for nine hours a day,” she said. “I thought it was the best thing in the world.”
Her fervor was noticed. “We saw how excited she was talking about the pieces, seeing and handling the pieces,” Paul Boutros, Phillips’s head of watches in the Americas, said in a phone interview. “I remember clients coming up to me and saying, ‘She’s terrific.’”
Then, in 2021, she began working at Watchonista, where, she said, she “wore many hats,” including helping to plan events.
Certainly Daily Grail will have competition from numerous horological websites, but experts say there is ample room online for different voices.
“The market eventually decides,” Ruediger Albers, president of the luxury watch and jewelry retailer Wempe USA, said in a phone interview. “You’ll find some where the commentator might be somebody that you can relate to better than somebody else, or one might be more technical; one might be just more informative than the other. You navigate through it and find one that speaks to you.”