BACK in the 90’s a trend exploded where women started collecting miniature shoes. They were scaled quarter sized replicas of high heels and flats. Most that I saw appeared to be injection molded. They were sold along with tiered display shelves and seemed just the right thing for a stay-at-home wife to waste her husband’s money on.

At the time I remember thinking, “Why in the fuck do you want a replica shoe; why not just buy an actual pair of shoes and wear them?” It just made no goddamned sense to me.

Soon, they started appearing in dollar stores as grotesque and poorly executed caricatures of the original miniature shoes. Sound famiar?

As the Internet was in its AOL infancy, I don’t think there was a big collector market and so assume at some point these things got boxed up and put in the attic next to the glass blown French poodle vases and giant wooden forks and spoons.

Miniature furniture soon followed. And to be honest, this made a bit more sense to me as these were icons of mid-century modern designs; like the Eames lounge and Noguchi coffee table in 1/3 scale. At least these were specific, identifiable things. Are there really iconic shoes?

ENTER 2013 and the brilliant minds at Invicta Watch Company and their soon to launch line of miniature watches:

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Yep.

Miniature watches.

The model that they are based on is the “Venom” which has a bunch of snake cues. I’m sure these will look bitchin’ staged next to the “pure oriental” Ninja sword sets of a Katana, Wakizashi and Tanto that Watchgeeks long ago bought from the late night, infomercial-as-homeshopping channel Frost Cutlery dicks.

But these may be purely functional for some. Seeing that so many Invicta fans have such chunky wrists, they seem to weigh in well over 400 lbs. These would be perfect rings on such a ham hand. If they are going to have to cut the wall out of your bedroom to get you to the hospital, you should be swagged out.

These would also be a great first watch for an infant. One would look hard as hell on a chubby newborns wrist; complemented by an Italian horn charm necklace. And how goddamned cute would it be if daddy and baby had matching Venoms?

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WHILE attempting to figure out who will be producing Jim Skelton’s yet to be launched watch brand, I can across some brand new Invicta trademarks.

As if the Sea Hunter, Sea Spider, Sea Thunder, Sea Excursion and Sea Wizard wasn’t enough ocean inspired insipidness, welcome yet another dive inspired fashion watch family: the Sea Bird. As this is only a name in that same, tired serif font, there are no designs to yet share.

Might I suggest the Sea Men as the next in this fine lineage?

I wonder if Eyal actually pays for someone to come up with this shit or if it gives his wife something to do? I mean whose bright idea is “JT FOR INVICTA, TOWER OF STRENGTH” – what does that even represent? They apparently plan to make key chains, jewelry, watch boxes and cases with this branding.

WE also can see that Invicta appears to be diversifying with an interesting application for the trademark PowerPatch which covers a range of potential products that including battery packs for handheld electronics,I’d assume smart phones, stands and cases. This move sort of makes sense as they’ll now be able to sell all of their most rabid fans phone cases that match their favorite watches. Okay, that sounded a lot better when it was just a thought rolling around in my head. Reading it out loud and it sounds pretty goddamned dumb – but hey Invictard reality is not like mine so what do I know.

BUT what I find really intriguing is the trademarking of two different sets of map coordinates. So I pasted them into Google Maps.

The first, 47.1070N, 6.8246E, resolves to an apparent paper street and set of stairs near a Swiss address, Rue de Beauregard 7, 2300 La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

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I have been unable to determine what is at the address in question but I wonder if this might be an office of the company.

THE second trademark is 26.0280N, 80.1698W. This resolves to Invicta World Headquarters in Hollywood Florida:

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Why in the world would Invicta trademark map locations?

FIFTEEN years ago, I really believed that the strides being made in CAD and CAM would result in an on-demand future rapidly prototyped into physical being. A future where designers would be king and a lot of products would be produced and assembled locally leading to a new wave of industrial revolution and infinite customization.

And while on-demand is not as pervasive as i thought it would be, companies like rvndsgn are halfway there. Industrial designer Zach Raven began his project to create the world’s first rapidly prototyped timepiece with the help of a Kickstarter campaign to finance his initial pieces. It has been less than a year since he kicked off his campaign and he is already taking orders.

rvndsgn utilizes Selective Laser Sintering to create their cases; they are literally printed and built layer upon layer. Stainless steel powder is converted into solid cross-sections by a CO2 laser until a solid, three dimensional case is formed. Bronze is infused into the steel to replace the binder used in the printing process. It is nickel free so the finished product is allergy free. Final finishing occurs by tumbling the cases in husks to remove any sharp edges leaving a grain pattern behind that is unique to each piece as a result of the sintering process. It makes for a look that strikes me as organic; almost like the hives built by paper wasps. As a fan of the Japanese Mokume technique and the classic, organic designs of Isamu Noguchi, I find it aesthetically appealing.

The cases are manufactured in The Netherlands and measure a modest 40mm across. In these austere times this is a nice break from the pie plate sized watches that some brands would have you believe are the new normal. Any color finishes are applied over the stainless by the same company that creates the cases.

The dial is created in New York using a similar rapid prototyping method but materials are nylon and acrylic. The movement holder is incorporated into the face creating a single piece design.

Final assembly takes place in Grand Rapids, Michigan on a made to order basis. Delivery can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks on US orders.

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The bands and buckles are sourced from Italy and are a single piece, in form very similar to the G10 style. They pass through the case and could easily be replaced with a 20mm NATO or Zulu.

THE only downside to me is that it has a quartz movement – the Swiss Ronda 513. I prefer automatics. While Mr. Raven doesn’t have plans for an auto, he has assured me that he does have plans for additional styles that could accommodate an automatic movement. This illustrates one of the unique aspects of his method: there is no tooling to change. He just alters the measurements in the CAD file and produces it.

Mr. Raven is also looking to leverage his product toward a greater good:

I’m looking into doing a limited edition with a partnership with a large charity with the profits going to them.

rvndsgn started accepting orders as of last Friday with the exception of the all black and all white pieces. They are priced at $275 and shipping on both domestic and international orders is included in the price.

For more information, check out the rvndsgn website: http://rvndsgn.com/RVNDSGN/Home.html

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WHILE it’s old news now, it is still funny that Invicta Technical Brand Manager Michael “Fuckin” Davis became so interested in the undelivered Renato tourbillons by posting the following missive on watchgeeks.net. Interesting when one considers that Invicta is planning on releasing their very own Chinese tourbillons. One has to wonder if Invicta is sourcing from the same Chinese source. Might Invicta actually be impacting the delivery of the Renato movements by paying to jump ahead of Renato? It’s interesting that Davis says that people should cancel their orders. When are those Invicta tourbillons slated for release?

“First off, I want to say that I am writing this message as the founder of WatchGeeks, one of the former owners of WatchGeeks and the current Administrator/Managing Director of WatchGeeks. My current position with Invicta has nothing to do with this post or this situation.

Let me re-cap the situation as I see it and know it:

#1. Daniel Mink offered for sale a tourbillon approximately 2 months ago. Based upon stories later concerning fine tuning the power reserve and now a glitch and glitches, one can only make the logical conclusion that he knew these watches were not ready to be shipped out. Since Daniel does not have his own production facilities, he certainly knew that he did not have them in his possession. At this time, no mention was made that this was an advance sale or that the watches were not ready for delivery or that there was anything amiss with the watches, glitches or otherwise. Credit cards were charged and money was taken from customers.

#2. A single watch was sent to Jim Skelton for promotion.

#3. When people begin to complain about delivery of their watches, Daniel indicated that 50 of them had been sent out already and that the remaining units were “coming soon”. It is often noted how odd it is that no one on WatchGeeks received one of these 50 pieces even though a large number of members ordered them.

#4. Around the same time as Item #3 above, Daniel indicated that what was happening with the watches was fining tuning the watches and in particular the power reserve on the watches.

#5. A voucher was sent out to those that ordered the watches as a bit of compensation to those that waited on the tourbillon and were experiencing the delays. Only problem is, the “fine print” included a stipulation that the use of the voucher would negate the ability of the holder of the voucher to cancel their tourbillon and get their money back.

#6. A member here posts that he spoke to Renato customer service at about the 4 week point and was told to expect another two months or so of delay on the delivery. A couple of other members then confirm this same timeline.

#7. At this point I contact Daniel directly to address the issue. He tells me that customer service never said this and that delivery of the watches was close. He was out of the country and it was late there. He told me that he would call me the next day and that an update would be going out on WatchGeeks.

#8. Daniel never did call me back. Or email me. Or communicate with me in any other way. He did make a post here a few days later indicating that the watches would be shipping to customers in approximately 2 weeks.

#9. It is now, as I write this, two weeks later and the watches have not shipped. An additional update has now been made indicating that there will now be additional weeks before delivery begins.

#10. In the update referenced in Item #9, references to “glitches” are now being made. A “glitch” is not tweaking the power reserve of the movement to get a longer reserve time. A glitch or glitches are problem(s) with the movement. Certainly not the excuse that was originally given as to the delay of the piece.

Bottom line, this is NOT acceptable behavior for someone using this site as a means to promote their site and the pieces they sell. We are now right at 2 months into a wait on these pieces. Only 150 were made. A competent watchmaker can build 3 to 4 tourbillons per day in a standard work day. I even went so far as to verify this with another vendor on this forum that has extensive experience building the exact same movement. Again, only 150 of these tourbillons were made. Do the math how many times a small team could assemble, disassemble and then reassemble these 150 watches.

If a member came on here and was selling watches and following the same steps as Renato, we would have banned them long ago. We have rules in place for our sales forum that prevents people from selling watches that they do not have and cannot send out as soon as the financial transaction is made. And we do not give members 2+ months to send the watches to the people that pay for them. Our rules (TOS) for the sales section of this forum are there to protect the sellers and the buyers. And while Renato did not sell their watches via our site, they did receive promotion via this site to facilitate their sales. I cannot help but feel that our sales TOS/rules apply at least in spirit to any vendor that comes here and uses this site to market their products.

It is my initial thought to ban Renato from this site. However, I don’t have the time to deal with this issue right now. I am on the eve of departing on a vacation combined with a birthday trip. It is my personal recommendation to those awaiting delivery of said tourbillon to cancel their order. While I may not be the biggest watch industry expert in the world, I have (of the course of two years in this industry) gained some level of expertise. I am completely and totally uncomfortable with this situation and how it is playing out. Something on many different levels is just flat out wrong. But, that is just my personal opinion. Officially, I will say that this issue needs to have a resolution by June 15th. If it has not been resolved, then Renato’s ongoing participation on this site is probably going to be gone. Again, we would not tolerate even the smallest part of the actions of Renato when applied to those using this site to sell watches. Whether handled incompetently or be it something else, this situation is just wrong on many, many different levels.

I know Renato has many loyal fans here. That is great. I became a fan of their brand and a customer of theirs shortly after they arrived at SNBC. At one point, I owned 30+ Renatos. For those that have been involved in the watch forums for a while now, they will remember that I was banned off of another watch site (where I had been an administrator) in large part due to my loyalty to Renato and speaking out on their behalf and defending them. And, I know Daniel and his partner personally. I have spent time with them in MN at SNBC as well as in FL. I do not take this decision lightly. But, I have to go with what I feel is right for this forum. No one is saying you can’t be a fan of their brand or their customer. But, if they wish to continue to participate here, then their actions must justify that ongoing participation. This tourbillon issue is not acceptable.

I will be in touch with you on a final resolution to this matter on or about June 15th.

Thank you for your time and for reading this very long post.”

Daniel Mink was made aware of the Invicta Technical Brand Manager’s comments and his response was:

“…it has been dealt with. You wont here from his dumb mouth again”

IN usual watchgeek fashion, the post is reported to have disappeared.

———-update 2:57 PM—————

It’s official; Renato is out at watchgeeks just like Skelton! Via watchlords.net:

“Renato Email sent this afternoon
======================

Dear Friend,

It is my pleasure today to announce to you three major milestones in our history that we would like to notify you about.

1. Renato Watches is no longer part of WatchGeeks.net

Renato Watches is no longer part of the WatchGeeks.net forum. This was a mutual decision as Renato intends to launch it’s own forum http://www.renatogeeks.com in thirty days. On this site, our loyal fans will be able to openly & freely discuss any topics regarding Renato Watches as well as be privy to brand new up coming designs, sneak peeks and etc. These are all things that we were not able to do onwatchgeeks.net for various reasons. Our forum will feature many exciting sections including one where members can display and trade/sell watches to other members.

While Renato is no longer listed on watchgeeks.net and our new forum is being created. Please feel free on the meantime to contact me via email (daniel@renatowatches.com) or facebook (Danielmink) with any questions you may have.

2. The Renato Affiliate Program

Over the past seven years, many of you have purchased many of our timepieces and have built significant collections with them. In lieu of this, you have become our best advocate and testimonial. Therefore, in the coming week, we at Renato plan to launch the Renato Affiliate Program (RAP).

With this program you will be actually earn money by simply referring our timepieces to your friends, family and associates. From then on, you can earn up to 20% of every purchase they make! Details will be sent to you next week on how to join and start earning cash.

3. Live stream Renato Shows

In the coming months, Renato Watches will launch shows online featuring myself along with special surprise guests from the watch industry to launch brand new collections. These shows will be streamed online at http://www.shoprenato.com.

In honor of these special events mentioned above we have decided to increase our current voucher promo TU770 from 20 to 27% off currently listed prices. This will be in affect for just 48 hours and then it will go back to 20%….

Make sure to take advantage of this window of opportunity and save even more money.

If you have any questions, please free to reach out to me via email (Daniel@renatowatches.com) or via Facebook(Danielmink).

All the best,

Daniel Mink
CEO
Renato Watches, Inc.”

Watchgeeks is slowly starting to look like myspace circa 2007…

WatchGeek: The Brand

April 7, 2011

IT’S always fun to poke around the corners of the Internet, finding public information and bring it to light. Take Hollywood Florida based Invicta Watch Group. They tried to claim that the ‘brand’ Imperious wasn’t theirs; that they were only financing it. That’s until the Imperious trademark was revealed to be owned by Invicta from a public record source, at which point they tried to change the story and claim that they always claimed to have owned it. Shades of the much discussed Russian Diver.

Well I’ve turned up a few interesting trademark tidbits. Just two days after the original Watchgeek owner group announced the sale of the site to Invicta for undisclosed terms, IWG was busy trademarking “WatchGeeks” as both an “On-line forum for watch collectors” and as a line of “metal key chains; metal key rings”. It’s not a stretch to conclude that a line of t-shirts, sweat shirts and hats will surely follow.

What will this mean for the Ohio creator of the “Watch Geek Parking Only” signs on eBay? Can he expect a cease and desist?

ALSO of note was the application for the trademark “T.S.E.” back in October of 2010 for “Clocks and watches; Parts for watches; Watch bands and straps; Watch movements” and this begs the obvious question – is Invicta going to create a parts sourcing arm to rectify the ongoing customer complaints of poor service, lack of parts availability and turn around times that can stretch to several months for the smallest of repairs? Or will this new trademark bring more murkily sourced bands and accessories to the brand whose trademarked “Technica Swiss Ebauches” watch movements are actually assemble in Korea from Chinese Sea-Gull movements?

IT has been over a year since I conceded that I was wrong and ShopNBC host Jim Skelton was, in fact, staying at the number three network. But I have just been informed that Mr. Skelton has stated on Facebook, that he is now a “free agent”. This comes weeks after both Mr. Skelton and Invicta Technical Brand Manager, Michael Davis, sold off their interests in Watchgeeks.net, in a deal speculated by some to be in the five digits.

WHILE the terms of the separation are unknown, it comes on the heels of Mr. Skelton buying both a house and several vehicles, including muscle cars and motorcycles.

WHEN I asked WoW chief Lior Ben Shmuel if Mr. Skelton was a potential host for WoW.TV as I was confirming the launch of his network, he responded with “What?”

I do suspect Mr. Skelton will turn up on the watch infomercials for WoW or possibly even an Invicta launched competitor. But, it was about two weeks ago that Mr. Skelton took an unexpected trip to Florida. When it was mentioned on Watchlords.com, I called it as his screen test for WoW.

IF Mr.Skelton hosts on WoW, what will it mean to the Shops bottom line?

ShopNBC is again looking to float a $75 million stock offering.

In the S-3 filing with the SEC on Wednesday, February 23, ValueVision Media states their belief that Comcast could block some of its future plans and could opt not to renew a license deal that lets the home shopping network use “NBC” in its name.

“NBCU, of which a controlling interest is now owned by Comcast, and GE Equity have the ability to exert significant influence over us and have the right to disapprove of certain actions by us.

As a result of their equity ownership in our company, NBCU, of which a controlling interest is now owned by Comcast, and GE Equity together are currently our largest shareholder and have the ability to exert significant influence over actions requiring shareholder approval, including the election of directors, adoption of equity-based compensation plans and approval of mergers or other significant corporate events.”

“Through the provisions in the shareholder agreement and certificate of designation for the preferred stock, NBCU and GE Equity also have the right to block us from taking certain actions. On June 9, 2010 we registered for sale all of the outstanding shares of common stock owned by NBCU, however, on June 24, 2010, NBCU decided not to sell the shares registered in that registration statement due to prevailing prices.”

“This registration statement has not been withdrawn and NBCU may decide to sell its shares pursuant to that registration statement in the future. The interests of NBCU and GE Equity may differ from the interests of our other shareholders, and they may block us from taking actions that might otherwise be in the interests of our other shareholders.”

“Our directors, executive officers and principal shareholders will continue to have substantial control over us and could delay or prevent a change in corporate control.”

“Our directors, executive officers and holders of more than 5 percent of our common stock, together with their affiliates, beneficially own, in the aggregate, over 38 percent of our outstanding common stock. As a result, these shareholders, acting together, would have the ability to control the outcome of matters submitted to our shareholders for approval, including the election of directors and any merger, consolidation or sale of all or substantially all of our assets.”

“In addition, these shareholders, acting together, would have the ability to control the management and affairs of our company. Accordingly, this concentration of ownership might harm the market price of our common stock by:

• delaying, deferring or preventing a change in corporate control;

• impeding a merger, consolidation, takeover or other business combination involving us; or

• discouraging a potential acquirer from making a tender offer or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us.”

“Expiration of the NBCU branding license would require us to pursue a new branding strategy that may not be successful.

We have branded our television home shopping network and internet site as ShopNBC and ShopNBC.com, respectively, under an exclusive, worldwide licensing agreement with NBCU for the use of NBC trademarks, service marks and domain names that continues until May 2012 or May 2013 if a one-year extension is agreed to by both NBCU and us.

We do not have the right to automatic renewal at the end of the license term, and consequently may choose or be required to pursue a new branding strategy in the next 10 months which may not be as successful as the NBC brand with current or potential customers. NBCU also has the right to terminate the license prior to the end of the license term in certain circumstances, including without limitation in the event of a breach by us of the terms of the license agreement or upon certain changes of control.”

WHAT might VVTV management fear? It should be remembered that VVTV filed a $75 million S-3 back in June of 2010.