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- Location: New York City
A great year for the very cool Mr. Marc Frankel and his stellar Long Island Watch website, which now features more brands than ever and additions such as Marathon, Collins, Damasko and … Stuhrling Original? WTF, Marc?!?
From the Long Island Watch website
Two years ago at this time, I mentioned a new product from Frederique Constant – the FC Analytics, a piece of cable with a mic at the end designed to time the accuracy of automatic watches when linked to a “Swiss Connects Analytics” app. I put off ordering it for the longest time (they wanted about a buck and a half for it), but when I saw it on Amazon for like 20 bucks gray, I pounced). No need for you to do that: Not really worth your time or money, even at this drastically reduced price. The fucking thing doesn't work. Skip it. Takes forever, and works intermittently at BEST. All I know is at this point, the most accurate watch I own appears to be an 11-year-old Hamilton Khaki with a 7750 (minus two seconds at last check). But sitting in a dead silent room watching a red bar cross my cell phone for 20 minutes before telling me “No Signal Detected” is not my idea of a fun evening. The FC Analytics sucks, which I'm sure it why they're flying around for 20 bucks now.
From the Frederique Constant website
As we talked about here a couple of weeks ago, I find the fact that Tourneau (I guess I'm one of the few mokes on the planet that actually likes the store experience there) is changing its name to Bucherer troubling. I predict the 28-store chain closes by 2021; it's the next Sleepy's / Mattress Firm debacle. Brand name recognition means something. The man in the street doesn't know what Bucherer even is – and that goes double for Fortis, Edox, FC, Alpina, Oris, and on and on. I'm not talking about watch collectors like us – I'm talking about Joe Lives Next Door, who needs to be led around by the nose in the first place; these are the people who aren't buying Bucherer watches by the bushel basket full at Tourneau now, and never will. The only brand I know of that's marketing in a modern way is Movado, and judging from a sales report I read, it's working. Other brands that are selling direct on sites such as Chrono24 and such (offering full manufacturer warranties, naturally) are also reaping the benefits. Fancy that. Oh, and nobody's bitching about how bad Swiss watch sales are now. Like they really were bad in the first place. Please.
Tourneau NYC flagship, 2016
More retailing: As Sam Cooke once sang, a change is gonna come. Swatch has pulled out of Baselworld for 2019, and did a slew of other brands. Most of 'em have said the same thing: Instead of concentrating on third-party sellers, the watch brands are actually gonna concentrate on direct sales and the web and direct-to-consumer activities. Wow, they're so 2002 now! The era of the multi-brand straight watch store is coming to an end; we saw it with Kenjo last year, and look for even department stores such as Macy's and whatnot to feature a slimmer collection of wares. Here in New York, we are just lousy with brand boutiques (canny brands use the storefronts as erstwhile offices, offering tax incentives), but multi-brand watch stores are getting scarcer, and the few we do have are either fucking shysters or wheezing on their last breaths. As for Baselworld, I always wanted to attend – but the smaller Worn & Wound and Watch Time events here in NYC are so much fun that I don't feel I'm missing anything except jet lag. Basel's likely on its last legs; it's been rumored that the 2019 event will be the last one.
From this year's Watch Time event in NYC.
The word in automatic movements from this point moving forward: Silicon, as movement makers replace oscillators and other components with rubberized parts. Zenith's 2017 single-piece oscillator that replaced an entire mainspring and balance wheel was the big news; silicone is finding its way into Swatch autos as well. Cripes, Omega, Breguet and Rolex started using silicone hairsprings ages ago. Yes, the movements are still pretty much assembled by hand, but these new concepts are going to make autos more accurate and, eventually, less expensive – and could attract new buyers if those savings are passed along through the MSRPs. And as the tech “trickles down,” well, there's going to be some fun and affordable autos in the offing, I reckon. I believe the less expensive silicon components are why Powermatic 80s are so affordable.
A nice pickup this year: Tissot PR516 featuring the Powermatic 80
Now, time to get pebbles and loose cans thrown at me (I swear, I don't want to offend any fans, but I need to vent):
Dead as a fucking stone.
On my short list of possible last-watch-I'll-ever-buy choices are the newer Grand Seiko models – cripes, I'd actually love to get my hands on a SBGX259G, a quartz model that's just so freakin' hot, sporting the only cool quartz movement out there ... uh ...
… but I've utterly had it with sub-$500 Seiko – there WERE six Seikos in my collection, and four of them – four of them! - have utterly crapped out during the past two years, from Kinetics that wave goodbye in groaning stutter-steps before packing it in, to solars that won't hold a charge even if you rest them against Ol' Sol himself, to an auto that crapped out and no watchmaker near me will touch it with a 10-foot set of chopsticks. Add to it the brand's stellar quality control – more falling pips than Bubba Knight on a bender, clunky bracelets that pull more hair than The Fabulous Moolah (and that you need a degree in bio-engineering to size), rubber straps that look and feel like exploded truck tires on the I95, bezels that don't align, and on it goes – even ardent Seiko fans admit to this shit. I'm sure there are under-$500 Seikos that are just fine, but my patience has worn out for now and for good. Done, done, DONE. In short: Sub-$500 Seiko is simply Invicta with a bill-of-lading you can't understand. Conversely, in my eyes, Orient can do no wrong. Stickin' with them.
Speaking of overhyped shit, Evine plugs along touting mostly Invicta these days, and it seems to be working as well as it always has – someone here posted third quarter earnings that only The Marquis de Sade could appreciate. After throwing off Jim Skelton years ago for being an obnoxious, braying (and oh-so-eager to lie) carnival barker, here comes former game show host, former E network talk show host, former disc jockey, and former (notice a pattern?) puppeteer (seriously!) Todd Newton (center in photo), an overly tattooed aging has-been so loutish that he might even be worse in Skelton in loving himself in an incredibly annoying way. Want proof? Who registers a moniker like “The Host With The Most®”? Who comes back from breaks proclaiming “Here's the two best-lookin' guys on the tube!” I don't watch a lot, but the other night I actually did, and both Justin Zimmer and Ryan' Whatever looked like they were holding mouthfuls of vomit while listening to this carnie bray and scream. Tellin' ya: They replaced Jim Skelton with another Jim Skelton – this one so desperate to hold a job that it's pretty fucking obvious.
As for Invicter, they seem to have given up the “SWISS!!!” scam and are just concentrating on duping the usual array of clod into paying $500 for a fucking 55mm Bolt or whatever the fuck it's called (though, suddenly, “Reserve” includes Chinese watches, a fact they don't seem to acknowledge in the least). Other TV follies: Croton's back on a semi-regular basis on Evine, usually women's stuff sold by Megan Harris, though their wares look like stuff you'd find in liqudiation stores with brand names like Geneva – it's so bad. Her former WOW partner, the suddenly hirsute Wiley Lowe (who slunk outta here when he couldn't answer such probing questions such as who warrantied what at WOW) reps something called Thomas Earnshaw, which seems to be one step up from Croton (you get a free pen! You get a free cigar cutter!). Somehow, Evine seems to be selling gray Edox, G-Shock, and other brands. It all feels rote; I don't care how many yearly “Invicta cruises” that Pacerguy shows up for – this nonsense comes to an end in 2019, either through Evine finally closing as a company, or by finally deciding that a 20 percent return rate ain't gonna cut it. I'd bet the ranch on it, but I'm usually wrong.
Wiley Lowe, perhaps a member of the Hair Club For Men.
One more good watch for me and I honestly don't think I need to buy any more
– hey, how much for that Speedmaster? Fuck me.
Hey – the reason I do these things every year (except for last year; didn't wanna offend, well, you know) is that I wanna read you guys' musing and ramblings. Happy holidays, gang. My holiday wish for every one of you is that you all get the watch you really have coveted for years. Seriously. Life's short. Live it up.