For a network that touts itself as the “Premium lifestyle channel” they sure have gone out of their way to bring the most generic Millionsmart Chinese brands with fake provenance into America’s living rooms. TV horology fans,welcome Stauer!

I first noticed the brand several years ago when thumbing through the magazine that airlines stuff in the back of the seats that is essentially a collection of ads. The model then was also aired tonight, the Graves 33 automatic. The story was as follows

n 1933, one of the most innovative watches ever built was engineered for a millionaire collector named Henry Graves. It took more than three years and the most advanced chronological technique possible to create the multi-function masterpiece. Recently, this rare innovation was auctioned off for the record price of £5,628,000 by Sotheby’s.

Even as a young kid, I had an aversion to multi-functions faking a chronograph’s funk.  Years later, I would find the Chinese manufacturer Millionsmart and could clearly see that this was nothing more than a $10.00 Canal Street special. Interesting that the other Cherman brand also bears a striking resemblance.

Watching the presentation revealed a few unique and interesting pieces. But the fact remains – with one exception, the Swiss Banker – these are just more of the Chinese automatics and Chinese cased Japanese chronos that seem to dominate the networks selections anymore.

Nearly every model is an ‘homage’ to classic pieces from the likes of Heuer, Breitling and Alpha?! Yes, Alpha.

Nearly all of the models aired sold out. To bad I didn’t write this blog sooner to protect the customers.

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From the homeshoppingista blog:

“ValueVision Media, parent of the No. 3 home shopping network, filed a so-called “shelf registration,” or S-3 form, Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the stock offering. ShopNBC declined to comment.

But in its filing the company said that if it doesn’t stem its losses, “We could reduce our operating cash resources to the point where we will not have sufficient liquidity to meet the ongoing cash commitments and obligations to continue operating.

Through a shelf registration, a company can fulfill certain SEC-mandated registration-related procedures before offering shares to the public, which permits the company to go to market more quickly when they are ready to do the public offering. The company essentially puts stock shares “on a shelf” in case it needs to raise capital for any reason.

We have a history of losses and a high fixed cost operating base and may not be able to achieve or maintain profitable operations in the future.

In its filing, ShopNBC said it had operating losses of about $41.2 million, $88.5 million and $23.1 million in the years ended January 30, 2010 (“fiscal 2009”), January 31, 2009 (“fiscal 2008”) and February 2, 2008 (“fiscal 2007”), respectively.

It also reported a net loss of $42 in fiscal 2009 and a net loss in fiscal 2008 of $97.8 million.

“While we reported net income of $22.5 million in fiscal 2007, this was due to the $40.2 million pre-tax gain we recorded on the sale of our equity interest in Ralph Lauren Media, LLC, operator of the polo.com website,” the S-3 filing said. “There is no assurance that we will be able to achieve or maintain profitable operations in future fiscal years.”

ShopNBC said it has high fixed costs, primarily driven by fixed fees on the merchandise it sells to cable and satellite operators in exchange for distribution.

“In order to operate on a profitable basis, we must reach and maintain sufficient annual sales revenues to cover our high fixed cost base and/or negotiate a reduction in this cost structure,” the filing said. “If our sales levels are not sufficient to cover our operating expenses, our ability to reduce operating expenses in the near term will be limited by the fixed cost base. In that case, our earnings, cash balance and growth prospects could be materially and adversely affected.”

ShopNBC reported that it has limited unrestricted cash to fund its operations, $20.9 million as of May 1, 2010 (with an additional $4.9 million of cash that is restricted and used to secure letters of credit and similar arrangements).

“We expect to use our cash to fund any further operating losses, to finance our working capital requirements and to make necessary capital expenditures in order to operate our business,” the filing said. “We also have significant future commitments for our cash, primarily payments for our cable and satellite program distribution obligations and redemption of our Series B Preferred Stock. If our vendors or service providers were to demand a shift from our current payment terms to upfront prepayments or require cash reserves, this will have a significant adverse impact.”

It appears that ShopNBC’s shareholder GE Capital Equity will have to approve the offering, according to an 8-K that the network filed with the SEC in June.

“On June 10, 2010, our board of directors authorized the filing of a shelf registration statement on Form S-3 with the Securities and Exchange Commission covering the sale by our company of up to $75,000,000 of securities, including common stock, preferred stock, warrants, units and stock purchase contracts,” the company said in that filing. “Our shareholders agreement with GE Capital Equity Investments, Inc. (“GE Equity”) and NBC Universal, Inc. require the consent of GE Equity in order for our company to issue new equity securities and to incur indebtedness above certain thresholds, and there can be no assurance that we would receive such consent if we made a request.”

ShopNBC’s largest shareholder, NBC Universal, back on June 24 decided not to sell its 6,452,194 shares in the home shopping network “due to prevailing prices.”

Who knew that the distant number 3 network was in such financial dire straits? My guess is that repeated scandal after scandal from one of the networks cash cows, Invicta, has surely taken a toll. From the faulty Ocean Quest screw design and moldy dive cases; to Swinagate and the Great D-D Debacle of 2010, the 27 hours of watches marathon revealed few Invicta sellouts compared to last years event. And the revelation just the other day that watches marketed as having diamonds but actually containing crystals surely is not going to help sales.

I wonder if ShopNBC Host Jim Skelton, who recently went on a very public spending spree buying two cars, a new house and a shit ton of knives, all while working a few weeks over several months with one medical ailment after another, might now be regretting blowing all that cash?

What would ShopNBC’s demise mean for all of those stuck with bad watches from the past 7 months?

IT has been a summer of scandal for the Invicta Watch Group following a winter of troubles.

The latest IWG problem for July is with the Invicta II Women’s Classique Boutique Quartz Diamond watch. The ‘diamond’ bit is as flawed as Diamond Jim!

Let’s start with the ShopNBC description:

“The round 316L stainless steel case comes in your choice of gold-tone, silver-tone and even two-tone if you can’t make up your mind. The gold-tone and silver-tone options display coordinating bezels while the two-tone option displays a silver-tone case with a gold-tone bezel. Twenty four beautiful diamond accents are set around the bezel.

The 316L stainless steel bracelet displays in the case coordinating color and the gold-tone is plated in 18K gold. The two-tone option appears in both gold-tone and silver-tone. Notice two diamond accented bracelet links located near the dial totaling an additional 18 diamond accents.”

UNFORTUNATLY for one consumer, the sad truth was revealed by a local jeweler where he took his wife’s newly acquired timepiece to replace a diamond that had fallen out, only to find out that the ‘diamonds’ are actually crystals! This scandal surfaced like the others; on the Watchgeeks website. CZ Jim Skelton quickly stepped in and locked the thread down.

Like the Swinese revelation, ShopNBC quickly moved to pull down videos that featured Shop and Invicta employees promoting the value of the pieces because of the diamonds. The diamonds being a major point of the sales presentation.

One is reminded of the ShopNBC/Renato scandal a few years ago where Renato diamond timepieces where sold with claims that the diamond quality was much higher than they actually were. This resulted in a timeout for the brand which has recently resurfaced on the number three network. When is Invicta going to get a time out? When are watchgeek/Invicta consumers going to stop buying this junk?

Some are claiming that they attempted to alert both the network and fellow TV brand watch collectors that the watch did not have diamonds; only to be rebuffed as any truth apparently is in the world of TV watch collecting. If this is truly the case, one wonders why the self described horological genius, who just so happens to rep diamonds in his internet forum handle, Jim Skelton didn’t pick up on this or how Michael “Grape Ape” Davis, Invicta’s Technical Brand Manager missed it? I mean these folks will tell you they are experts but oddly enough are only hosts and salesman whenever scandals break. Really, what’s the difference between this watch and the Waltham Crystal Kitty watch that the network has sold? About plus $80 for the Infauxta.

INVICTA made a pretty decent $100 watch back in the day. Then they attempted to market high-end pieces and have not faired well in doing so with countless issues and questions. Now they’ve somehow managed to not even make a good cheap watch anymore.

BETTERSKILLS blog has learned that Invicta Watch Group has come to the attention of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH over the Swinagate Fiasco. This was the Invicta practice of labeling Swiss Parts watches manufactured in the Far East as SWISS and then presenting these watches as “all Swiss Made” on homeshopping’s third place network, ShopNBC. A practice carried out for several years. Intrestingly enough, when the truth was revealed on watchgeeks.net by several members of that site with links to an archived ShopNBC presentation where Eyal Lalo, Invicta CEO, made the claims, the videos mysteriously disappeared. Watchgeeks is co-owned by Invicta Technically Brand Perception Manager Michael Davis and ShopNBC host Jim Skelton. Recently, Michael Davis responded to these complaints on watchgeeks by telling memebers to stop complaining or leave. Continued complaining would would get you banned.

Invicta, who is no stranger to lawsuits, potentially has a huge issue on their hands if this is pursued as they may have violated US Customs and Swiss laws.

IF a case is openned, might the “Swiss Made” provenance of the D-D Speedway Elite also be investigated?

Betterskillsblog will keep you posted.

FRIDAY, June 18, 2010 marks exactly one week since the revelation that Invicta Watch Group did not obtain the
Dubois Dupraz movement in their much hyped Speedway Reserve Elite from the source; that they did not work hand in hand with D-D and that they were, in point of fact, never a D-D customer. This revealed through D-D’s Business Development Manager in North America, Chris Becker by several email inquiries from angry customers and curious WIS.

Initially Skelton disputed the authenticity of the emails; even going so far as to question Mr. Becker’s title. Because, you know, Technical Brand Manager is a real function in so many organizations and Skelton’s vast corporate experience, no doubt, makes him an expert in such matters as well.

And then there was the problem of the statements made by Eyal Laylo, through both Jim “In Cognito” Skelton and Michael “Fuckin” Davis, that he (Laylo) was having stern talks with D-D and that they were taking full responsibility for the bum movements. Skelton later stated that he believed this to be a D-D issue after having discussed the matter “…with another brand” who had “seen “slop” in the gear train of some DD modules that can create an up/down shift in gears.”

Laylo had been busted in an outright lie – Skelton, a self proclaimed horological expert, was repeating statements that he supposedly “heard” from some mysterious brand. I tried to corroborate Skelton’s statements but could not; instead only finding praise for D-D movements.

As could be expected, there was no immediate statement forthcoming because of the weekend but a joint statement was assured by Laylo through his toadie Skelton, “in a few days”. Here we are at the end of the fifth and still no word.

One can only imagine the behind the scenes legal wrangling and probable payoff that are taking place. I’m sure there will be a statement at some point and I bet that it is an apology from Eyal and an absolution of any guilt on D-D’s part. And then, more silence.

There is still the question of where these watches were actually produced. I do remember Invicta’s Pioneer line that was touted as “Made in the USA” with the globalist, shakey provenance that the Invictards who derailed threads regarding the Swinese revelation love; Chinese components and a Japanese movement lovingly assembeled in Hollywood Florida:

“Hell yeah – that’s Amuricun enough for me!”

“I don’t care where it’s made or how it’s marked!”

“Stop beating a dead horse!”

I wonder if that experience led Eyal to believe he could case the watches at home. Sure, they are marked Swiss Made. But as he’s told us in his statement on the Swinese issue, Swiss is just a marketing gimmick. Of course this suggests possible illegal activity, but isn’t stating on several occasions that Swiss is Swiss Made to ShopNBC buyers illegal? Invicta has skated on that one and SNBC has apparently colluded by removing video evidence, so what does it matter?

And “Where in the World is” Jim Skelton? We’ve been asked to believe that he has TMJ that has been aggravated to the point that it’s kept him off the air for over a month? And this wa before he threw D-D under the bus which oddly coincided with his full schedule posted on SNBC being removed. He is slated to return; for the third time with a full schedule. Will he?

A coworker who was a religious zealot once told me that “Sometimes no answer is an answer too, you know…” It is a point that I never considered before he said it and it is, in some instances, completly true. But it was the only bit of wisdom that this guy ever spoke. He was self-centered, self absorbed, self rightous and full of shit.

Sound familiar?

This guy was a Jew for Jesus, yet not Jewish. He started fights with a Muslim coworker over the divinity of Jesus. He went so far as to key the guys car; so bold in fact that he did it while parked next to him!

Sound familiar?

He spouted so many crazy statements that a living document was created to capture them all. Shit like, “By the time I was 12, I was driving to the horsetrack in my daddy’s Imperial, drinking a Pabst and smoking a cigarette to bet on the ponies” and “My dad traded headhunters cigarettes for rubies – they would eat the cigarettes.”

Utter horseshit.

As you can imagine he had a lot of problems with other coworkers. One day he was lamenting the fact that everyone was wrong; that he knew the truth and that everyone around him was wrong and stupid and should just listen to him. I couldn’t take it anymore.

“Robert,” I said, “if everyone is telling you you’re an asshole… you probably are.”

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.

AS if throwing around rulers on set because he doesn’t know how to read them wasn’t enough, Jim Skelton decided to bring an Internet beef that he started to ShopNBC airwaves. On the Invicta Reserve Watches show from Monday, March 29, Skelton repeatedly made reference to a series of blogs that I’ve written over the past few months. Of course he completly misrepresented the argument in an attempt to simplify and ridicule.

“If a camera goes out out of focus for a second oh it means that Jim Skelton is leaving the show!” (32:25 in)

Uh, that’s not my opinion at all dipshit. ShopNBC let’s Temple go a few years back. Your ass kissing of Lalo results in his pushing for you to be hired.

Once you’re there for awhile, you launch Watchgeeks.com with the Invicta ‘Technical Brand Manager’ Michael Davis and another guy. You plug it on the air and your numbers swell. Any descent is met with insults and bullying. Threads are routinely deleted. You even attack a coworker, Shawn Wilsie as seeking to be a “martyr” and attention seeker. Those are your own words asshole, and anyone who has a login to WG knows it’s true!

You created and facilitate a marketplace on WG where these loyal ShopNBC buyers have the ability to purchase current SNBC merchandise, slightly used, at deeply discounted prices. In my original blog, I linked to an example of a Renato that is $400 less than one at the Shop. Your response was to take the sales forum from public to private. Am I “poisoning” peoples “minds” with untruths? Anyone reading this can sign up at watchgeeks.net and see for themselves by opening a ShopNBC browser and the WG marketplace in a second and compare the merch side by side.

How did you feel when you found out that Tim Temple was contacted by the new management team? How did you feel when he was finally brought back? It seems it was on his terms which is why he’s not an employee. And you apparently had to sit on that info. When watchgeeks was open to the world, I went back and found where you were alluding to a “Big Announcement” in August. That turned out to be Temple’s return announced in October. In your Jay Leno style response to the first article you mention that you had signed a new contract the prior week; the week of October 7, 2009. Those sources that I don’t have at ShopNBC tell me that contracts are either 9 month or 12 month deals. Which did you sign?

I’ll admit I was wrong; I thought you’d be long gone by now. Still under contract but off the air and gagged. How you like it. If my math is correct the week of July 7, 2010 is the nine month point and October 2010 is the year mark. You like to accuse me of back peddeling but the truth is that I based my speculation on what I would do if I were running the network. I’d keep you under contract so you couldn’t bad mouth the network but I’d most definetly bounce your fat ass out of the chair. My thinking was that management would be concerned with keeping the zombie buyers around. I’ll give you credit where it’s due; you have quite a few moronic fanboys and girls that think buying every dial/case/braclet of a particular model is watch collecting. You’ve also managed to get a lot of people to accept lackluster quality merchandise and used items sold as “New” with the same furvour and frenzy as religious zealots. I mean I’ve read WG posts where people bitch about getting a returned, worn item as new, complete with scratches. The responses always include other members attacking them fir complaining ; paraphrased as “You should be glad you got one!” Any readers of that original blog from October can see that you do have a hold on some people by looking at the comments. Kudos to being a hero of the stupid.

But the bigger picture appears to be more straight forward. You’ll be there until your contract is up, be it 9 months or 12. We both know you won’t be re-signing. Your shitty attitude, double entendres, sexual innuendo, questionable history and bluring of the line between watchgeeks, Invicta and ShopNBC is a liability for the network and your social network usurps the imitative that ShopNBC is attempting to implement.

Instead of trolling knife forums and causing trouble you really should have memorized the English measurements that coorolate to the most popular metric sizes associated with the watches you present, especially if you cannot use a ruler. Hmm – am I reading to much into this? Maybe you don’t care because you’re not coming back.

Tell the world which contract you signed – the 9 or the 12. Prove me wrong.

The facts are as clear as that George Michael beard on your face: Daniel Green did take a swipe at you; Shawn Wilsie has disassociating himself from your site – on the air and on Fb. Seven minutes into Monday’s show linked above you backhandedly say you watched all the shows but Temple’s while getting that major surgery that kept you away from watch geeks but not from trolling knife forums. And both you and that half-a-retard looking Davis always drop Tim Temple’s, “I’m just sayin” catch phrase as an inside joke between the both of you. Ha, ha, ha – that’s so funny. Nobody picks up on it, ha, ha, ha. You even do it on WG posts by signing it! Stevie Wonder can see through it dumbass! Am I really “reading way too much into things” or are you so stupid that you don’t realize how transparent you are?

I’m just sayin’…