FIRST DIMERS: Danielle Prescod
Interview by Brynn Wallner, photos by Scarlet Raven
This interview with Danielle Prescod about her Rolex has been a long time coming. She left New York for New Orleans in the winter of 2020, so there was a physical distance between us; and although the pace down South is sleepier than what she’s used to in NYC, Danielle herself hasn’t slowed down much. Just in the past year, she quit her corporate job, pivoted her career, wrote a book, sold the book, and moved to a city she’s never lived in before. I’d been following for a while, and we (digitally) met when I took her online anti-racism course, which she co-hosts with our mutual friend (and aspiring Panthère owner) Chrissy Rutherford as a part of their business, 2BG Consulting. Their matter-of-fact delivery and relevant material was such a far cry from any dated, corporate “diversity” training I’d undergone in past jobs – and it was refreshing to be spoken to straight by two women who really know their shit. So, yes, I highly recommend this course; but as I was soaking everything in, my eye kept wandering to Danielle’s Rolex. I knew I should have been focusing solely on the subject at hand, but I couldn’t help myself! I’m watch-pilled. Her small, two-tone Lady-Datejust seemed to work so well with her effortless sense of style that can only result from significant years of working in fashion. I was dying to learn more about it, and we eventually found the time as she was wrapping up a podcast, walking home under the hot Louisiana sun.
Brynn Wallner: First… tell us about this watch.
Danielle Prescod: I bought this watch for myself on my 30th birthday. It’s the only luxury watch I own, and I got it because Rolex is one of the only watch brands with pieces that you can trace back to months and years of origin. I thought it would be really cool if I could get a watch that was made in the same year I was born, so I started doing research. I have a friend whose husband deals in vintage watches, so I asked her, but he didn’t have anything from 1988 or even 1987. So… I started typing “Rolex 1988” into the search bars of consignment sites like 1stDibs and The Real Real, which I narrowed down to because the authentication felt reliable. I saw a 1988 steel watch with a pink dial and diamonds, but I felt that it was a bit obnoxious, something I couldn’t wear every day. I really wanted to go with the classic two-tone Datejust… no embellishments or anything… I wound up getting it from The Real Real.
BW: Did you start wearing it immediately?
DP: The bracelet was actually too big at first because I have really small wrists… so I just left it. I went on a trip and when I came back, I had to take it to a jeweler to get the links removed. But – and I know this now – because it’s an automatic watch, it stopped ticking. I didn’t know that you had to wear it regularly, and I was so mad… I took it to The Real Real store and I was like “you sold me this broken watch!” And they were like, “When’s the last time you wore it?” And I was like, “I’ve NEVER worn it!” And they were like, “Well… it’s an automatic watch. You have to wear it for it to tick.” Ahh, it was so embarrassing. Like tell me this is your first watch without telling me this is your first watch [laughs].
BW: Oh my god… I’m dying. I mean, no one really tells us these things!
DP: Right... I was like, “okay thank you very much for telling me!” So then I got my links removed and I started watching all these videos about how to change the date and the time. I was so scared to touch it at first. I mean, I never thought that I would own a watch. I’d put on boyfriends’ watches for fun, you know, like how crazy is it that this guy has a $15-20K watch? This is obviously not something I would ever have.
BW: Yeah, when you don’t have one it can feel so out of reach.
DP: I was really scared to interact with it at first. The videos taught me how to set the time, the date… you pull the – what is it, the crown? – you pull the crown at different extremes in order to control the different mechanisms of the watch. And now it’s been 3 years, and I wear it pretty much every day of my life. I’m not afraid of it anymore!
BW: Ah, you actually do wear it every day! I loooove that.
DP: Yeah, and that’s also the thing about Rolex. Their watches are very durable. I mean, I don’t put it through abuse, but I wear it when I’m living my life. I’ve fallen off of a horse twice wearing it and nothing happens. When I’ve fallen off, my first thought is have I broken any bones? Is my watch still on?
BW: You and Mary-Kate Olsen both love horseback riding in your Rolexes.
DP: Mary-Kate actually has a bit of a bad reputation as a horse person. She smokes at horse events, which people really don’t like because there’s a lot of hay around. It’s pretty weird… she could start a fire.
BW: Ooooh, the horse girl tea. How long have you been riding?
DP: I started when I was 9 up until my early 20s, when I took a long break. I knew what I wanted to do for work and I needed to be in the city all the time. I had FOMO, I wanted to go to brunches. Riding is incredibly time consuming, and it’s not like I could do it in New York City… and I didn’t want to go home every weekend. I stopped riding for 10 years, and then in 2018, I felt it was time for me to find something that I really like to do. You get older and you start looking for excuses not to work. Now that I’m in New Orleans, I ride every week.
BW: I’m glad to hear you got back on the horse. Did you grow up in Westchester? I realize I don’t really know much about you. Who is Danielle?
DP: Okay, well! I grew up in Westchester. I went to an all-girls school in Connecticut, then I spent my first 2 years of college at Tufts University in Massachusetts, which I really did not like. Over the course of my time there, I realized I really wanted to work in magazines, and I didn’t think I could do that living in Boston, so I transferred to NYU. I started interning at Refinery29 and I made my way to other magazines from there, and by the time I graduated, I had a job I was already working because I had done so many internships throughout my time in college. I was working in fashion and made a slight pivot to entertainment about 5 years ago – I started working at BET – but I began to feel so burnt out.
BW: Yeah, it sounds like you’d been working for a long time with no break…
DP: I was like, I cannot stay in New York anymore and I cannot be working for this company. And before I even knew about the pandemic, I decided I wanted to write a book. So I took a vacation to Ireland.
BW: Why Ireland?
DP: I was reading Vogue and saw that these two women got married at this castle in Ireland. There was golf, horsebacking… these are all the things I like. Plus, it was isolated, in the countryside. It felt like a good place to go for my writer’s retreat, and it was: I was able to figure out what I wanted the book to be about. Then I was like, okay I need to take time off work to do it. I took a leave of absence from work thinking I’d be able to do more writer’s retreats… that was the first week of March, and then everything was cancelled and I was like, cool cool cool.
BW: So much for those writer’s retreats…
DP: Yeah, and then my job started fighting me about the time off because other people started needing time off. It got very ugly. I wound up writing the book between March and April, and I signed with a literary agent in June… and by July, she had sold the book! Then I was like, okay, I’m definitely going to quit this job. But I’ve also gotta leave New York… I can’t do another winter here.
BW: How did you decide on Louisiana?
DP: I have no idea [laughs]. I had to move in December, and LA was COVID-central in a scary way. And because I have a business with Chrissy [Rutherford], I didn’t want to deal with a 3-hour time difference. I’ve always liked New Orleans, but I never came here in an extended capacity. There’s a big difference between visiting and living somewhere. But it seemed like the best place for me.
BW: And here you are!
DP: And here I am! Exactly.
BW: What’s the book about?
DP: It’s a memoir about the way that media works in service to white supremacy and makes young girls of color feel bad about themselves. Experiencing prep school, and then experiencing working in that same media…
BW: Well, I’m so happy you got to write it, and I can’t wait to read it. But back to the watch! Had you always wanted it, or was it something that came into your head as you were turning 30?
DP: I had never really thought about a watch like that before. I had worn an Apple Watch for so many years because I was obsessed with counting my steps and having everything when I needed it. I thought it was perfect – like, why would I change from this? But 30 is a big birthday, you know, and I told myself, you’ve worked really really hard. You should treat yourself to something. But I really wasn’t sure what to gift myself, like, what is an adult gift? I think a watch is it!
BW: Something about turning 30… it does feel different and you really do want to commemorate it. By the way, what is your sign?
DP: I’m a Leo. My birthday is tomorrow, actually! It’s almost the 3 year anniversary of me getting this watch.
BW: Oh my god, I’m so glad we’re talking about this! Happy birthday! Happy Leo season!!
DP: Thank you, thank you.
BW: So now that you have the watch, what does it feel like to wear it? You clearly love it… you wear it every day. But how does it make you feel when you look down at your wrist?
DP: It really elevates everything – I love wearing it with workout clothes because, even if you feel kinda schlubby, it just helps bring the whole look together. I don’t wear much jewelry – but I do have 17 piercings in my ear, and there are some earrings I never take off, and some I take out. The watch is low maintenance. It’s a good way to still feel put together without adding on too much responsibility.
BW: I re-posted you once in your all black workout outfit, wearing the watch. I mean, it’s just so good. It really does elevate the look and make everything look cooler.
DP: It does! And for Christmas the next year, I got myself a tennis bracelet… and then another when I got my book signed. I actually had another one, but a horse bit it off.
BW: Oh my god, I can’t.
DP: But the watch… it’s very elegant. It’s just so shiny and pleasing to the eye. I love it.
BW: It makes you happy.
DP: And it also just feels really good because I bought it for myself. I used to have this big hang-up that I couldn’t buy fine jewelry for myself, it should be a gift. But I was like, I have no one to buy these gifts for me, so do I just not have them? Men are sooo cheap [laughs], like they will never buy you anything. They don’t wanna spend the money! They won’t even take you out to dinner! So I had to do it for myself.
BW: Good to take matters in your own hands. What size is your watch?
DP: It’s the smaller, ladies size. I was going back and forth between getting a mens or a ladies watch. I feel like the oversized, chunky look feels very dated. When I first started paying attention to the Olsen twins, I noticed they always rocked men’s watches. It was a very late-aughts starlet kind of thing, and I thought that maybe it was some sort of statement on gender... I’m gonna buy this for myself, I’m gonna get a man’s watch. But I wanted to be a bit more subtle, so I landed on the Lady-Datejust.
BW: I think you were ahead of the curve. I’ve been trying to push people to consider smaller watches. You look at old photos of, like, Lindsay Lohan with a big ass Rolex Daytona and it feels time to go back to embracing the daintiness. It won’t take away from your strength. Anyway, I love it on you, and I think it’s a great choice, especially for your first watch. Are you thinking of getting another one??
DP: That thought crossed my mind, like what if I get a watch and become an addict? I have that personality where I start obsessing over something and have to have it in a million colors. But I can only wear one watch at a time. That’s it. So I don’t feel any kind of pressure to get another right now. The only thing I would get is an evening watch because I don’t ever really wear this with formal attire. But who knows when’s the next time I’ll go to a black tie anything? That concern has kind of been eliminated. Maybe I’ll get something really special like a Bulgari or a Cartier, but I don’t think I need another daytime, everyday watch. I do think they’re great pieces to commemorate special memories, though. I haven’t had anything huge happen besides my 30th birthday… but check in with me on my 40th.
BW: Do you notice watches on other people now that you have one?
DP: I do. In my past life, I was an accessories editor and consider jewelry one of the most personal things you can add to your outfit. I’ve always been paying attention to that, but now that I have a watch, I love to look at other peoples’ watches and see the choices they’ve made. Kristen Noel Crawley has this beautiful jade faced Rolex that she got as a push present, and I’m obsessed with it. It’s such a deep, beautiful color. Usually, I like pink and aggressively feminine colors, but to see a ladies watch with this jade green face… it’s so pretty.
BW: I wanna see it! Sounds gorgeous. Well… are there any parting remarks? Any lingering thoughts on watches you’d like to share?
DP: Oh, yeah. I really want people to stop buying bad diamonds and horribly embellished watches. It’s a plague! These people have money, why are they–ugh, it’s so bad. I would encourage more people to explore vintage, explore consignment. Go greener, get comfortable with that. There’s still this stigma that, if you have money, you should buy things brand spanking new. Why would you buy new watches from these awful “celebrity” jewelers? The real gems are at the Sotheby’s auctions, the Christie’s auctions. Go there! If you have the money, you can participate in that, and that’s where the good stuff is.
BW: I know people listen to you, so I’m going to include this. You have influence!
DP: I hope so. Vintage first, that’s always my rule. There’s more than enough stuff in the world. If I’m looking for something, it’s probably already out there, and it’s more special when you find it. I found this watch, and it found me.