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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The Future of WOW.tv

March 19, 2013

BASED on a recent thread over at Watchlords, one cannot help but wonder if WoW.tv’s days are numbered. The Ustream infomercial-as-shopping network is no longer being carried on several cable systems, including Time Warner, FiOS or Dish. A look at wowtv’s website reveals that they are only on DirectTV.

WHAT can we attribute this pull back in spending to? Might it be a result of the losses incurred by SWI’s unsuccessful litigation attempting to take the trademark “Swiss Made” away from the
Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry?

OR might it be the result of the new owners of SWI, Clearlake Capital Group. There has been some speculation that the sale was necessary because of the fight with the Swiss Federation but with this new infusion of capital (and new board members) it may just be nothing more than a change in direction. It could be possible that the cost to included the programming on the cable networks is far more than the actual returns. Couple that with the salaries of the hosts and you have to wonder how much ROI there is even if it is streamed exclusively via the Internet.

In any event, what once seemed a potential challenge to ShopNBC watch sales now looks to be little more than a vanity, basement Internet show.

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.

MZ Berger Acquires Renato

February 14, 2012

BETTERSKILLS has learned that the Renato brand has been acquired by MZ Berger, better known as the design, marketing and manufacturer of watch brands that include Elgin, XOSkeleton and Sharp as well as the licensed manufacturer of several trademarks including Disney and Paul Frank. They also own the name Gruen.

Koi of watchlords.com was the first to announce that MZ Berger was the new owner on the watchlords website.

APPARENTLY the official announcement of the acquisition was supposed to take place yesterday but has, for some reason, been delayed. Here’s what we do know:

All but 65 people have received refunds for the long delayed Tourbillon and 61 are waiting for a new tourbillon due out later this year.

There actually was an issue with the Seagull made movements that delayed delivery an not meddling by Invicta Watch Company

Financial issues due to the week economy and the federal bankruptcy case involving Scott Rothstein who owned a portion of Renato tied up cash flow resulting in problems meeting financial obligations for a period of time.

Renato will return to ShopNBC some time around April 1st, 2012 as well as other venues due to the market share the new owners have.

After the announcement on WL, One of the first results for “renato and MZ Berger” is a long sold out Renato at ShopNBC. Interestingly enough, the warranty is provided by MZ Berger.

More information as this story develops.

ValueVision Media quietly reported their 2nd Quarter results a little over a week ago an it seems that the apparent firing of Jim Skelton did not impact watch sales as ShopNBC brass noted that they improved.

“The Watch category benefitted from a more diverse product mix and achieved improved productivity per minute with attractive margins, as part of a strategically planned reduction in air-time.”

FANS of Skelton may point out that since he left, a lot of watches have been offered on 6 Value Pays. I’d agree that this helps sales but do not think the move is to entice Skelton’s fan base or as a response to a purchasing drop off by those most ardent of fans, something he suggested on his Facebook page. Rather, it is a response to the continued malaise that is the Not So Great Depression.

Even if you’re not a fan of the mostly Chinese made watches featured on ShopNBC, the network have made a point of expanding their offerings and most of these are within the 38 mm to 47 mm size range as opposed to the caricatures that have marked Invicta designs over the past few years. These new brands are also selling out while Invicta doesn’t seem to anymore. So it’s possible that the core consumer has changed.

With the reported return of Daniel Mink and Renato, it will be interesting to count the sell outs and compare them to the same, tired Invicta rehashed designs. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in Shop’s green room when he shares it with Invicta’s Technical Brand Manager and convicted felon, Michael “fuckin” Davis.

You’ll remember he used Watchgeeks.net to famously call into question the shady sales exercise of the Renato Tourbillon, suggesting that people cancel their orders, which conveniently coincided with Invicta Watch Company’s hinting around at their coming Chinese Tourby offering.

Maybe it’s just me, but Invicta’s continuing slide in quality of both workmanship and materials, coupled with tired and boring designs is reminiscent of Detroit in the late 70’s. Can the brand continue to be the Shop’s cash cow or will one of these new brands claim the crown?

SOME people have turned over stones regarding Invicta Watch Company claims; Koi of watchlords has rolled over a boulder.

It turns out Invicta’s Technical Brand Manager, one of three faces of the brand on ShopNBC, is also a graduate of con college! Mr. Davis was convicted of aggravated robbery in Montgomery County, Ohio in June of 1984.

Aggravated robbery is defined as “the taking of anything of value belonging to another from the person of another or that is in the immediate control of another when the offender intentionally inflicts serious bodily injury.”

I know what you’re thinking; “What’s serious bodily injury?”

It is defined as “bodily injury which involves unconsciousness, extreme physical pain or protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty, or a substantial risk of death.”

He was sentenced from 5 to 25 years. Who knew Davis was living a thug life( like Tupac thug life?! While he may have been a badd ass on the streets, Mr. Davis appears to have been a model prisoner as he served only 53 months and change, completing parole in 1990.

I’M of the opinion that the man served his time and this was nearly a quarter century ago, and in recent years is only guilty of being a jagoff; Michael “fuckin” Davis deserves a second chance.

But its still funny to find stuff like this in light of Mr. Davis preaching about “hater” sites and people making things up – especially from a convicted felon.