From Jim Skelton’s Facebook page:

“Last week I posted that I would have an announcement coming soon. Well, today is part one of that announcement. I am retiring from TV! This is a decision long in the making, and was not made lightly. I begin a new chapter in my life, filled with opportunity and excitement. My family will be leaving Miami and relocating to Dallas Texas in April. I am currently on my way to the airport to meet my realtor in Dallas to begin the search for our new home.

I will not be on the air this weekend, but will be on the following weekend, and hope to enjoy my last few shows with all of you. To clarify, I am not leaving to go to another network, the next few shows will truly be my last ever on TV. I have enjoyed my 10+ years doing what I love, sharing my passion for watches with all of you. I’m fortunate to have made a connection with so many people, and gotten to know you and your families over the years. You’ve allowed me to do what I love, and invited me into your homes, and you’ll never know how truly grateful I am for that. It’s time now for me to share my other passions with the world, in a totally different venue, but one that everyone will have access to. In the coming weeks I will follow this up with the rest of the details, but I am still ironing everything out at this point. This time around I have the freedom to share everything about my upcoming adventures, without any silly contracts prohibiting me from disclosing details of where I’m going and what I’m doing. Thank You all so much for your support and I look forward to what lies ahead for myself and my family. Stick around, I hope to surprise you”
The much loved, and equally maligned, former host of the distant number three shopping network, ShopNBC, ShopHQ, Evine has called it quits and is leaving DirectTV channel 227 where he barks for SWI. Unlike ShopNBC, where he was fired, we’re not sure if he is the one calling the shots on this move or not. I’ve wondered what his baggage would mean to Clearlake Capital Group, the investment firm that bought SWI back in December of 2012. Without Lior to protect him and corporate wolves focused on profit and flying below the radar, what would happen with Jim? I’ll state that I have zero knowledge of his contract details, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Skelton was working for base, plus commission. With watchgeeks.net gone, how was Skelton marketing to anyone? His FB page revealed thousands of fans that always lamented their financial woes whenever he added product placements for his shows. He couldn’t have been selling much.  I’d hardly call his Strider watch collaboration with Android’s Wing Liang a success as the price was halved for a few months and he still hasn’t been able to move the total production of 500 units. My prediction: Jim Skelton makes a move into knives and tries to duplicate the success he had in TV horology with the apparent vacuum left by the exit of the Frost Cutlery guys.

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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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?

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.