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/

WHAT a weekend it’s been for critics and devotees of the Triumvirate of shady known as Jim Skelton’s ShopNBC, Invicta Watches and the horological world’s branch of Scientology; watchgeeks.net. On the heels of Invicta CEO Eyal Lalo’s revelation that Invicta timepieces labeled SWISS are actually Swinese and on the day of the Watchgeek’s first annual gathering of the Jimilo’s the revelation that the flop known as the Invicta Speedway Reserve featured a Dubois Dupraz movement that appears to be sourced from a third party, despite Eyal Lalo and Jim Skelton inferring that it was a obtained through a working partnership.

Fear and anger quickly spread through Invicta’s camp of loyal followers as many started to suspect that they may have blown a thou-wow on a Chinese copy: a suspicion driven in a big part by Invicta admitting that they misled buyers of SWISS labeled watches into believing that they were buying Swiss made timepieces and not Swiss Parts / Chinese cased watches like several of the Android an Croton models that they compete with.

I never thought that they were counterfeit. What the point? Whether you love Invicta or hate them they do have, at least for now, a fan base that rivals some major league sport franchises. The current global economic depression has Swiss watch sales falling off a cliff so it seems perfectly reasonable that as sales slowed major companies would unload movements in a bid to keep liquid assets while waiting for a reversal. And Invicta die-hards keep buying – with salvation only 5 value pays away.

WATCHGEEKS immediately went into damage control. How? By deleting posts and banning members. The same Yellow Shirts that trolled several of my blogs were in full force, causing trouble on threads to force a violation of WG’s Terms Of Service to get threads closed and ultimately deleted. Some members called out these individuals but it didn’t matter as the Yellow Shirts pretty much succeeded and enough Sheeple accepted it and complied with their silence. I find it unimaginable how that site still has members after this latest revelation – what type of person takes Corporate bullying lead by a toad like Jim Skelton? If you’re one of those people and you’re reading this, why are you still a member? Aren’t you feed up with the phony two party system and multi-national corporate serfdom? Where is the outrage of being treated like a sucker; a mere means to someones fiscal end?

But I digress.

THE big issue are the continued seemingly untruths released as statements of fact and sometimes, like the case with the Swinese watches, admissions. When it became clear that the Speedway had serious issues, vague statements were released on the WG site. Customers who had purchased it were assured that Lalo was directly communicating with DD via “many conference calls” and this threatened to put “several large scale projects with D-D” “ON HOLD”. Skelton’s statement from Lalo went on to state, “All involved believe the issue is a D-D issue” and so “D-D as” Skelton understands it is “owning up to their responsibility”.

Skelton also made a statement implying an underlying problem with the movement in a bid to redirect the anger from his forum’s sponsor; precisely the slippery slope of interwoven shenanigans and self interests that I pointed out in October. But as the emails began to surface, from both an inquiry and several angry purchasers of the turd, it became clear that this was another Lalo “Swiss is Swiss Made” misspeak.

According to Jim Skelton, ShopNBC’s resident horological expert and watchgeek forum owner, the problems with the hands can be solved with a washer, and we can expect a statement from DD and Invicta within a few days. I suspect a team of lawyers is working hard to retract Eyal’s statements an absolve DD from any responsibility.

In light of the technical solution to the problem, the question really is where were these watches assembled? One would assume that a Swiss manufacturer would be aware of these nuances and build the watches accordingly with respect to the precise tolerances required. And so this begs the question: are these pieces in fact Swiss Made?

ONE also has to wonder what liability might Skelton have and how might that extend to ShopNBC. I have a suspicion that Skelton may have sold his interest in WG to SNBC. Do I have proof? No. But there are a couple of interesting facts: he has been on an extended medical leave because of issues with his jaw related to TMJ – yet he’s stated that he hasn’t had time for WG because he recently bought a new house and has been on the phone with movers and he’s also purchased a new muscle car to park in the driveway. So he appears to be flush with cash and just a few weeks ago, Michael “Fuckin” Davis made a vague, seemingly stunned mention opposite Shawn Wilsie, of “Big Acquisitions”. With the economy what it is; ShopNBC reporting a 6.6% drop in net sales in the first quarter of the year, would you burn through money? The elephant in the room is the hiring of Bill McGrath and ShopNBC’s Anywhere Initiative. their aim is to leverage social media sites like Twitter and Facebook as well as iPhone apps and shopnbc.com. So where does that leave watchgeeks?

Competition.

And then there is that sticky matter of Jim’s comments regarding the debacle as a DD issue. His words: “Learned today through conversation with another brand that they have seen “slop” in the gear train of some DD modules that can create an up/down shift in gears.” But he did manage to add within the same message, “Is this absolutely the case? No idea yet…” I’m not a legal scholar so I don’t know if the final bit absolves him of responsibility with respect to definition of the brand. I don’t think it does because it implies direct knowledge of “slop” in some of D-D’s movements. As an agent of ShopNBC I think this may open the way to a lawsuit against his employer. He is one of the faces of ShopNBC and has implied in the past that he is no horological amateur.

But only sometimes.

When the heat is on, he’s just the guy that sells the watches.

I for one, eagerly await the outcome.

WatchGeeks 2.0?

May 20, 2010

SOMETHING interesting showed up in the betterskills inbox last week. I have not been able to validate the authenticity but if real, it would suggest an evolution of the WatchGeeks community to more of a social network – watchgeeks.ning.com.

For the record – I’m thinking hoax. But if legit, it would make a lot of sense. Over the past few months there have been a steady increase of members who only seem to join so that they can bitch about poor Invicta quality and CS, from the Dive Kit Screws and case mold to the latest Reserve Speedway plagued with complaints. It’s like one fail after another with the established geeks trying to arguing over legit complaints. A social network model would effectively lower the public visibility of all the complaints but could also serve to take the decent underground and possibly less easy to control. But if it’s a numbers game you’re concerned with and you could keep the new member level high, you could, on the surface, cover up a lot of these boils and sores.

I’ll keep watching it as the 9 month date of Jim Skelton’s contract approaches, which I’ve been told is the possible duration of a SNBC contract if not inked for 12 months.

Speaking of XOSkelton slowly being eased out – how about Avi Vierra showing up on the debut of XOSKELETON as their apparent Technical Brand Manager! Funny because I suggested her several months back. She’s the perfect transition from Skelton – I’d much rather look at Beauty than the Beast!

IN an interesting move, ShopNBC has tapped Bill McGrath as VP of Quality Assurance, a 20 year veteran who most recently served as Vice President Global Sourcing Operations and Finance at QVC. In the first paragraph of the press release, they mention their Anywhere initiative, which includes ShopNBC”s presence on social media sites as well as their iPhone app and website. Upon first reading, it sounds as if Mr. McGrath is going to lead this project. But if you read it closely, you’ll see that this is not the case. When you read through the press release, Mike Murray, ShopNBC Senior Vice President of Operations detail Mr. McGrath’s various duties while at QVC:

“Bill brings a wealth of product quality experience and supply chain expertise — from vendor manufacturing through custom consumer packaging — that spans all our product categories and beyond. His commitment to excellence and building strong partnerships will benefit our vendors, product offerings, and customers. We look forward to his impact on our efforts to continue lowering transactional costs while improving the customer experience.”

This seems like a bait and switch; McGrath’s expertise is the supply chain continuum and the quality of products down to the packaging. A quick Google search of “Invicta QC issue” yields 156,000 returns and if you read some of the comments here as well as around the various watch messageboards, poor quality control seems to be inseparable from the ShopNBC / Invicta experience. I’ve also read quite a few complaints of Renato quality issues.

This move comes on the heels of ShopNBC’s dismissal of two popular hosts, Charla Rines and Mike Davidson.

UPDATE 01/19/2009: Something interesting is occuring over at watchgeeks.net – dissent! The vocal complaints from customers center around the Subaqua Noma III Ocean Quest and a design flaw involving screws that easily crossthread and break and while Jim Skelton (In Cognito) himself has weighed in with a rather terse and forcefull response, the debate rages on. It is comical to read him defend what is a bad design while the watch has been crossthreaded live on the air more than once. It’s really telling to see senior posters atempt ro intimidate and silence this debate as Mr. Skelton partially owns the watchgeeks forum along with Technical Brabd Manager Michael Davis. This is the coming of the perfect storm I alluded to in my blog, Jim Skelton Out at ShopNBC. The blurred lines between Invicta, Skelton and ShopNBC are on display for anyone to see if they create an account on the now password only site. One wonders what Mr. McGrath’s response would be to Mr. Skelton’s less than humble reply?