Watches and What Else: Kelly Haygarth Talks Women in Watches and Flips Us the Entrepreneurial Byrd

Kelly Haygarth, founder of Byrd Watch Co., is a tour de force. You will not find a more welcoming person who’s full of passion when it comes to bringing folks together in this hobby. I’ve been fortunate enough to hang out with Kelly and her husband, Peter, a few times and they’re both the life of the party. While this interview was full of laughs, Kelly definitely manages to exude a sense of community and takes time to get serious about what it means to be an entrepreneur in this space.


“My first real watch was this little 28mm Victorinox that Peter gifted me in 2013. I now realize this was his attempt at grooming me into the hobby,” Kelly told me. But, as she would later recall (and in spite of Peter’s grooming efforts), her love of watches began in earnest in 2019. 

“Peter grew up appreciating them [watches], and I never really understood. […] One day Peter called me and said he had found this Tag Heuer Carrera Twin Time, and I didn’t know what any of that meant. He found it in a pawn shop and it looked all grubby, and said it was $600. I was like WHAT?!?! How much?! On a watch?!” 

Kelly began laughing, “Wow. I think back to that innocence, and wow.” She went on to describe how Peter brought the watch home and disassembled it on their kitchen island and cleaned it to the point where it was beautiful. Kelly didn’t think much of it at first, but one day Peter asked if she wanted to wear it. “I didn’t take it off. It became my watch. And after that I fell in love with the history of the brands, and the art, the thought, and the precision that goes into a watch.” This watch is still in Kelly’s collection and gets worn often. “The joke at home is that I stole his hobby because he wears three watches in our collection, and everything else is my lack of impulse control.” 


After Kelly commandeered her husband’s hobby, she darted down the rabbit hole of social media, starting with Facebook, where she joined a few groups. “It was really fun to talk to people, to connect, to share pictures. And I got to be more active sharing pictures in general. But then I didn’t want my family to judge me, so I created an Instagram account and I blocked my whole family.” The Instagram account, which she initially shared with Peter, was eventually fully taken over by Kelly, and ended up becoming the @on.her.own.time feed that has ballooned to nearly 17,000 followers. I don’t know about you all, but I see a trend here. I joke; Kelly took over the account to connect with more women in the hobby, as she saw that it was an outlet she needed, as well as other women. “Social media was so necessary for me, especially during the pandemic. It was the only way to share the hobby, and it’s where most of my knowledge came from. But having a female presence is necessary because this is still a very male-dominated hobby.”

We then began discussing the growth of the watch industry, inching its way toward being more accepting and inclusive: 

“I feel like things have gotten a little better. I’m seeing more women having confidence in jewelry stores because we’re not being driven to those itty-bitty, mother of pearl with diamonds watches. We’re not being told ‘this is a man’s watch.’ Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a long way. Every now and then I’ll still get a male salesman that looks at me when I say I want a certain watch and they’re like ‘are you sure?’ And I’m just like ‘yeah Steve, that’s what I wanna see.’”

I think it’s important to note that I do wrist checks at the beginning of these interviews to ease into the conversation, and Kelly was rocking a Panerai Radiomir PAM00380 that looked fantastic on her wrist. 


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“It’s been just pushed that certain things are ‘a man’s watch.’ It’s been pushed and pushed on us. But now you’re starting to see these women come to the table as role models wearing a Yachtmaster or a Speedmaster and these aren’t small watches. And these aren’t big women. It’s just becoming normal. There are some brands that have websites that don’t have a single description of ‘men’s watch’ and ‘women’s watch’. There might just be ‘small, medium, and large,’ and I love that. That’s a hill I’m willing to die on; stop calling it ‘a man’s watch.’”

As of right now Kelly’s favorite watch, her milestone, is her Zenith Chronomaster. “That’s the one. That’s my precious. It’s become my significant moment watch. If I’m doing something important, then I’m going to wear it.” 

Perhaps there will be some significant moments on the horizon for Kelly with Byrd Watch Co.

What Else?

When it comes to deciding to become an entrepreneur, and starting her own brand, there’s no bigger sign of humility than Kelly admitting that it all started as a joke. “Peter and I would talk about all the little watch catch phrases that we hear: ‘watchfam,’ ‘wrist check,’ and ‘a pop of color.’ Then we thought that it would be funny to create a way to sell these things.” However, they had to come up with the perfect products to deliver these messages and satiate their customers’ cravings.

Peter had commissioned a pinup illustration of Kelly, and suggested that they stick that on shirts. “And I was like, who is going to have my cartoon face on a shirt?” Kelly pauses for a moment and goes wide-eyed in disbelief, “there are people that have my face on shirts and on mugs.”

It was on a trip to Charleston, though, that Kelly and Peter had the idea that would lift Byrd Watch Co. to the next level. “We were walking through one of their markets and Peter stopped at this booth that was selling leather bracelets.” They began talking and thinking about how watch enthusiasts like to accessorize beyond just their choice of watches. “Stacking has become this whole thing,” Kelly explained. For those who may not know, “stacking” is when someone might wear multiple bracelets either on their own, or on the same wrist as their watch. “In the watch community we realize stacking is a very split camp.” Kelly notes that there are folks who wouldn’t put bracelets up against their watches out of fear of scratching the case, and then there are folks who just love to stack. Either way, the realization that Kelly came to was that “there are not a lot of reasonably priced fashion bracelet brands. There are brands that have the same bracelet materials that we use and they price them at $100. I’m all about people making some money, but let’s be real.” 

Soon after Kelly and Peter started designing their bracelets and other products, then investigated manufacturers until they found the right one. Then Peter named their company “Byrd” (Kelly’s maiden name) and Watch. “I tell you, this man is so creative,” Kelly joked. Next they had fun naming their products, as it was important for Kelly and Peter to let their customers know that their products would be fashionable and a trip to their site would be entertaining. They carry bracelets like the Big D, Fireball, Old Fashioned, Mr. Clippy, and the Double D (where a portion of the proceeds go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation). It’s impossible not to smile while perusing the lineup. “We realize it’s a little tongue-in-cheek, borderline inappropriate, but you can wear it out of the house.” 

“In all seriousness, though, we like to do all we can to set ourselves up for our financial well-being, but also for our daughter. It’s something we’re passionate about and we were able to build it into our everyday lives.” Alluding to a broader market, Kelly goes on to explain that she realizes now that they’re not just selling to the watch community, but that plenty of people love to accessorize and would want affordable and fashionable pieces for themselves.

“Overall it’s so fun and a great way to end the workday with Peter. We both work for the same company during the day, and in the evening we never really wanted to talk about work. And now we get to come home and have fun planning and creating. Right now the island in our kitchen is covered with 42 different colors of paracord. It’s great.” The paracord is a little nod to a new bracelet series that Kelly and Peter are prepping for the site. “I think this has all added something to the relationship. I know it sounds cliche, but he [Peter] is my best friend. He’s someone I always want to be around, and who I want to share the things I’m thinking. And it’s been fun to see his brain at work with this, and to see his eyes light up. Having this kind of partnership with my husband has been so fulfilling.”

Now that Kelly and Peter have new products on the way and notions of expanding Byrd Watch Co., I wanted to get Kelly’s take on what the most difficult hurdles have been for them to leap. Without hesitation Kelly said, “Advertising.” Keep in mind that, as of now, Byrd Watch Co. is strictly an e-commerce business. “We don’t have any kind of in-person displays…yet. Social media is such a platform for business, and navigating the advertisements for that has been difficult. Trying to work around the algorithm and figure out what people want to see…we didn’t go to school for social media or marketing. Even though I’ve been handling my social media platform for a long time, this is different. This is hard. It’s important that you figure out what people want to see, how to capture your audience and create engaging content.” Kelly then explains that the easy parts have been choosing the products, naming them, and learning how to use things like Shopify. “Advertising is hard,” she continued, “and getting the right photos, and having them be good photos is tough.”


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Byrd Watch Co. launched on September 18, 2023 and within the first week Kelly and Peter had evened out their investment, making back everything they had initially put into the company. 

So, with their initial success and all around dedication I asked Kelly what advice she would give to budding entrepreneurs wanting to strike out on a new venture. Kelly said, “First of all, have fun with it. Sell something that you like, that you yourself would want to buy or a service that you would want and appreciate. You will be that much more excited about working at it and growing it. Create a rapport with your customers.  Be thankful for the people that reach out and want to buy things from you. Do what you can to make it a positive experience so they want to come back.” 

Being in conversation with Kelly always reminds me to give more than what you put into something. We all share space in a hobby and must pay attention to how we engage with others in our community. Are we encouraging them? Showing respect? Are we the life of the party, and what are we contributing to the festivities? 

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Chris Antzoulis is a published poet and comic book writer who over-romanticizes watches. Ever since his mom walked him through a department store at the budding age of six and he spotted that black quartz watch with a hologram of Darth Vader’s face on the crystal, he knew he was lost to the dark side of horology. He is currently eye-balling the next watch contenders now caught in his tractor beam.