watchgeeks.nyet

July 15, 2014

I’ve been peripherally following the milestones and hiccups in the world of TV horology and was aware that Invicta’s primary propaganda tool, watchgeeks.net, had been down for some time.

On a whim, I checked in today and saw this message from Invicta Watch Company CEO, Eyal Lalo:

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The explanation jumps right out at me:

“We were not supplied with the required codes necessary to serve the site and the existing content was blocked from our access.”

“In this past week, we then discovered, that the entire database had been intentionally erased this destroying the platform we worked so hard to diligently preserve for you to enjoy.”

The page auto-directs uses to Invicta’s Facebook page.

THIS statement seems to imply that someone maliciously took down watchgeeks and the inference to be made is that former Technical Brand Perception Manager, Michael Davis, would be the culprit. He was the administrator of the website and he publicly rage quit back in April.

In Davis’ Facebook post from June 21st, he makes mention of the neglect of the site:

“I tuned over the daily administration and maintenance of WatchGeeks to Invicta about a month ago when they would not come to terms with me over the ongoing work needed to keep it running. “

BUT interestingly, he seemed to still have enough access to state that “…(Invicta) have done absolutely no maintenance or work on the site (which is the reason why there is 3,000 membership requests sitting in queue that have not been processed).”

He went on to say that “…sooner or later that site will come crashing down.”

While I do think he’s a shithead, evidenced by his proclivity to use the ban hammer while at geeks and that threatening website directed at Koi over at watchlords; his malicious act of sabotaging watchgeeks?

Nope.

In reading through Davis’ Facebook posts, it’s clear that he just had enough of ShopHQ and Invicta.

Why?

Maybe because they send Invicta rep, and former model, Ryan Johnson to all of the remotes in sunny tropical locations while Davis stews in the Minnesota studio like Bumble the Yeti at 3:30am.

Was he tired of the constant attacks and references to his past? Maybe the guy that called in live to a Davis and Temple show and claimed he robbed bowling ally to support his Invicta addiction was the straw that broke the camels back.

I think the site was deliberately left to rot. Maybe that mail I got back in 2010 about a supposed watchgeeks social network on ning really was a strategy and not a hoax?

Watchgeeks turned into a means to an end for Invicta. A place where dissent could be squashed through deliberate and calculated attacks on character and fellow members were whipped into a frenzy to belittle and run off ‘negative’ posters. It was used to marginalized and ostracize critics. It became a point of control. And the artifacts and proof posted by pissed off consumers could easily be deleted.

But times changed. Social media changed. What once was possible to control was not as people took to social media and messageboards and eviscerated Invicta for their poor quality and misrepresented products. Hardcore Invictards abandoned the brand and nearly all of the folks that used to routinely threaten and attack me on this blog were either kicked off of watchgeeks as they were no longer useful and disappeared or they have become vocal Invicta critics because they saw the light.

As new leadership takes the reins at ShopHQ, I wonder how much longer Invicta will air on the network. It’s the same product, over and over. How many different color combinations can you put on a Bolt and act excited about?

A new social media strategy may be exactly what Invicta needs to again become relevant in a genre crowded with the addition of micro brands. In killing off watchgeeks they can further distance themselves from all of the bad karma that geeks generated. In suggesting that it was taken down maliciously, they attempt to create animus toward Davis and his ‘solopreneur’ endeavors for the remaining diehards obsessed with post counts.

The death of watchgeeks could be the clean break and reboot that the Invicta watch company needs.

I think it’s too late.

//smt/

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The $15 Ceramic Diver

May 26, 2013

From the unpublished archives. This blog was written in May of 2013

FOR the past few months, watchgeeks have been gushing over Sottomarino watches. This, the house brand of the retailer Precision Time who have both a chain of brick and mortar stores and an Internet retail presence. It seems to be treading in the TV brand space with oversized cases and inflated MSRPs.

Precision Time routinely runs specials on the Sotto brand with deep discount sales sweetened with coupon codes. It was one of these scenarios that was too good to pass up: the Ceramico on a rubber strap for $15. Two things stood out at this price; a ceramic case and a sapphire crystal. I figured it would be something to write a review about and for the price and materials would be a great summer beater. Perfect for shade tree mechanical jobs, yard work and eating sand later in the summer as the surf smashes me into the beach.

It took about five days to reach my mailbox. It shipped in a large, tin case similar to what you see with Fossil but with a hinged lid. as i opened it, I was initially taken back by the high-end look. Nice finishing, a clean aluminum bezel ring with sharp fonts and nice clean dial details. The first thing I noticed when pulling it out was the weight. As this is a ceramic watch I was expecting it to be a lot lighter until I got a good look at the caseback.

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Where to start…

The Case. The face and side of the case looks great. It is a matte finish ceramic that is very pleasing to the touch. But flipping it over reveals that the case construction is actually two pieces – the stainless steel bottom of the watch with the ceramic fitting over it like a shell. The finish between the two case pieces is night and day. The stainless steel base is rough and poorly finished; this in sharp contrast to the well crafted ceramic top. The edges are super sharp and the tolerances are terrible with uneven gaps between the caseback and the surrounding ceramic top. Immediately the spell was broken. This was not much different than those Chinese switchblades at the flea market that seduce from afar and reveal their true hackiness up close.

Matte ceramic also has an odd quality in that when it gets covered in sweat and dries, it looks like the thing is covered in boogers.

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The Bezel. With any dive style watch, a unidirectional bezel is pretty much the standard and the Ceramico is no exception. The clicks were solid with none of the sloppiness one would expect in a cheap watch. That was until I rotated it about a quarter turn and it immediately seized. It was then that the overall flawed bezel design became apparent as it is much too thin to be adequately manipulated with wet or dirty hands. I literally had to work it for several days to get it to reliably move through an entire one hundred degree rotation.

The Crown.

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Here’s one from the spring that i never got around to publishing. I ended up replacing the terrible silicon band with a Panerai style leather band. Even with all of the flaws, this thing has taken a ton of abuse and keeps time. It looks pretty good in the wrist and has become my beater work watch.

As I went to unscrew the crown to set it, something seemed wrong. It felt like it was cross threaded. When I looked closely I found that it wasn’t centered properly into the case and that it was actually rubbing against the lower crown guard. Yet another detail missed.

The Dial. I can put up with a lot of flaws on a watch but an uncalibrated, inaccurate second hand drives me crazy. Couple that with haphazard dial markers and lume that’s worse than Invicta’s proprietary Tritinite and you’ve got a real mess. My biggest peeve is that the minute markers do not seem to be equidistant.

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Interestingly enough, the hands have a great matte silver finish and are three dimensional.

The Strap and Buckle.

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The silicone strap is okay but has proven to be a lint magnet. The buckle is nice and solid in a style reminiscent of Panerai.

The Crystal. This is actually the best feature of this watch. Very solid and thick and it has taken quite a beating. As expected, the optics distort the as it is viewed from the edge.

For $15, I kinda except all of the flaws. The retail of $399 is laughable. Even an Invictard would not put up with all of these issues from a yellow boxed behemoth. I’ve worn this thing to do a lot of manual labor and dirty jobs and knocked the hell out of it. It looks exactly as it did when I got it six weeks ago. Granted, it’s analogous to a really attractive woman with crossed-eye.

Fresh off the heels of their edge of space weather balloon launch of watches, Invicta Watch Company is previewing a new, soon to be released model, the Subaqua Specialty NASA/Apollo 40th Anniversary Edition.
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It is a kitchen sink of materials that make up its construction: ceramic, thermopolymer, titanium and carbon fiber. But the big selling point is the 44.45 mm medallion case back with the official NASA vector logo that contains metal taken from Apollo Command Modules that flew to the Moon.
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Upon first seeing the promo pictures, I thought, “Wow, how did Invicta get a license agreement with NASA?”

But a google search of ‘Apollo 40th anniversary medallion’ turns up dozens of sites selling this medallion with the best price at nasagiftshop.com for $12.95!
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Beside the case back, the only other obvious ‘Apollo’ reference is the tachometer that mimics the Omega Speedmaster bezel – the watch that actually did go to the moon.

One has to wonder how NASA would feel about this new model as it is seemingly trading off of their history and implies that it is an officially licensed product. I think it is disingenuous and purposefully misleading to consumers. I’ll be interested to see the markup that this $12 medallion commands.

And in case you were curious, here’s what the other side of the medallion looks like:

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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?

IN a marketing move that seems to have fallen flat, the Invicta Watch Company created a rig with cameras to be slung under a weather ballon and launched it. The result: they could have achieved the same result at the local, Hollywood Florida Olan Mills.

I’m not sure exactly what the expectation was other than attempting, all be it way too belatedly, to ride the coat tails of the Felix Baumgartner record breaking jump that occurred back in October.

Details are lacking on the Invicta news page which is interesting because one would think Invicta would be milking this for all that it’s worth, I mean as much as sending watches up on a weather ballon can be milked. Of the 36 timepieces sent up, only pictures of three have been released by Eyal Lalo. Might the others be suffering from failing movements? Might hands be falling off on the edge of space as they appear to do here on Earth? Surely if the images and the high speed video that is promised do not show up, the conspiracy theories will follow.

One suspects that these timepieces will probably be sold at a premium with an official certificate of authenticity that they have been on the edge of space, along with t-shirts and other products.

The public is speaking and not very favorably:

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HERE’S an interesting development in the world of TV Horology: Swiss Watch International has apparently lost the use of the word Swiss in both the name Swiss Watch International and Swiss Legend.

I stumbled on a legal decision dated January 30th of this year while researching another possible blog topic and started reading through the court records in the case, Swiss Watch International Inc. V. Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, T.T.A.B., No. 92046786, 1/30/12

The decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the United States Patent and Trademark Office was the culmination of an action that began in 2006 when the USPTO did not grant Swiss Watch International trademarks for either their name or house brand, Swiss Legend on the grounds that the “Swiss” would create confusion with the Federation’s marks “Swiss” and “Swiss made”.

SWI then attempted to have the “Swiss” and “Swiss Made” marks cancelled in the US on the grounds that the names had become generic in the US because the Federation did not control their use and so they were no longer entitled to protection.

But the USPTO dismissed this case and ruled that the certification marks are not generic, despite the unauthorized use of these trademarks by other parties. They cited the Federation’s worldwide monitoring and enforcement system as well as the actions they have taken against third parties that have infringed on these trademarks, as well as the American public’s recognition that the certification marks ‘Swiss’ and ‘Swiss Made’ identify the origin of a timepieces manufacture as Swiss.

Swiss Watch International has already registered a new Legend logo and trademark and I couldn’t find anything pertaining to the parent company’s name.

What strikes me is the argument; that the trademarks are “generic” in the US because third parties have used them without penalty. Might this weak argument be a finger pointed at Invicta for such memorable missteps as the Swina Gate Fiasco and the great The Great DD Debacle? There’s no way to tell because the exhibits used to make their case are either redacted or confidential.

As expected, the company currently known as SWI has filed an appeal so it will probably be awhile until we see how this case ends.

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?