INSIGHT: The horologist’s guide to the galaxy

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koimaster (Online)
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INSIGHT: The horologist’s guide to the galaxy

Post by koimaster » May 15th 2019, 8:41am

You can’t buy the above watch. It was made in a limited edition of 100, and sold out in a matter of hours. It was made for, and sold by, a TAG Heuer news and review site. Ten years ago this online-only watch would have been unthinkable, in another 10 it might be the norm.

So where better to explore the rapidly changing world of buying and selling watches online than in the inaugural print publication of a watch website? And when better to do it than now?

Mechanical watches have been around for hundreds of years. They’ve survived, and thrived, under war, economic hardship and even the invention of the iPhone. In many ways these old-fashioned, outdated machines are the epitome of the analogue, offline world – an authentic artisanal object created by craftspeople who trace the lineage of their skills through generations. Few things could be further from the digital now than the traditional watch on your wrist.

That’s the common perception at least – one supported and amplified by the global marketing departments. The truth is, as always, a little more complex. Because while the watch industry itself has been traditionally cautious, and even anxious, about the complex web of platforms, technologies, systems and communities amorphously called ‘digital’, the online world has been instrumental in allowing an industry that, in Switzerland alone, accounted for some 20 billion dollars worth of exports in 2017.

The story of watches on the internet really begins not with the brands that make them but with the people who buy and passionately evangelise about them. Of course, this community existed in the pre-internet era, through trade press, local retailers and the like, but the internet brought these disparate groups together, allowing people to share knowledge, and amazingly lo-res images of their latest watch on a worldwide scale. The first of the big online communities was, which was online as early as 1996. While they aren’t the thriving hubs of watchnerdy chatter they once were, they’re still important repositories of knowledge and lore, as well as established and trusted sales communities, seen as providing a safer way to selling your expensive watch than, say, eBay. ... he-galaxy/


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