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.

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Invicta to Acquire Renato?

February 2, 2012

DANIEL Mink has be lying lower than the Chi as it goes on 9 months with the undelivered Tourbillon that turned into an advanced order. Mink has stalled on a big announcement and has outright ignored complaints and threats from disgruntled customer on their ignored Facebook page.

Michael Davis, Invicta Watch Company’s Technical Brand Manager, just this morning posted on his Facebook that a big announcement will be made tonight on Larry Megan’s web show. Now “Big Announcements” from Invicta are a dime a dozen, but interestingly enough, Koi from the watchlords forum has a source who has told him that Renato has been sold and that Invicta bought up the Tourbillons that Mink couldn’t afford.

UPDATE 11:20 PM: So the big announcement is actually that Michael Davis is getting his own webs how? Jesus, these Home Shopping TV guys are like the rap moguls that run their labels out of the parents basement. Move over Skelton – Davis After Dark is here to challenge you on LiveStream. Watch the throne!

I still wonder if an Invicta takeover of Renato is eminent. I hope so – I wanna buy Renatos at JC Penny and Costco.

May that big announcement be that Renato has ‘joined’ the Invicta Watch Group?

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?

DAYS after Watchgeeks went white, Michael Davis finally addresses the issue: via Facebook. In short, he claims WG was hacked and a lot of damage had been done; that the site could be out of commission for a few weeks. But this seems so much balderdash. All hacker attacks these days are about information – passwords, personal information and financial information. Watchgeeks has none of this. And why would someone trash their servers – what’s the point? Server trashing and data destruction are carried out by governments against one another to slow weapons development. I don’t think anyone wants to slow the asshole development that goes on at Geeks – what would we laugh at?

NO, I think that this outage was the end result of Michael Davis’ reckless sticky trying to dissuade people from buying their pre-order Tourbillons from Renato. As is now the case with any Invicta misstep or lie, the party affected was quickly notified and claimed on Facebook to have taken some action. I asked Eyal Lalo via Twitter for a comment regarding this latest outage as well as the Renato situation and he has not responded to either of the inquiries.

Those that follow WGs probably remember similar unannounced outages after the DD Debacle, the Swinese revelation and the Manmade Natural Sandstone dials made their way to other forums and this blog and people broke apart and discussed the stories to reveal a very unflattering and dark picture of the Invicta Watch Company. Following the actual membership numbers revealed a decline following these outages. That seems to indicate that the former owners we’re trying to purge those lurkers who were gathering the evidence and presenting it to the public; as well as archiving it because WGs is notorious for deleting such items.

BUT now with Invicta actually owing the forum and such a long outage, one has to wonder if this is not just a purge of non posters but also a time out. A way to push out those active posters who are critical within the TOS of the site. They can then migrate to Watchlords, Watchfreeks, WUS and make Watchgeeks a place for those easily intimidated by the MODs and Yellow Shirt members.

Let’s check out those numbers when it comes back online; If that’s still possible when it does.

WITH today’s announcement of Renato spinning off their own forum, renatogeeks; and internet TV show, can we expect the world of TV Horology to collapse under it’s diversified weight?

ShopNBC used to be the defacto place to buy brands whose retail presence was secondary to their late night cable appearances on ShopNBC. Fans regularly phish for new products, gaining bragging rights on the WG town square. Filling the huge, empty hole in their souls with easy Value Pays and products selling for a 10th of the retail value.

Watchgeeks.net was spun up by a green ShopNBC host who used it to aggregate all of those dispirit fans who routinely got into pissing contests on other forums defending the Invicta brand – this was a fruitopia for those collectors and addicts; both vain and broken.

This model worked well for awhile, like Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. But then Invicta, who appears to have financed the site for many years, was no longer the king. Invicta quality started to wain and they began replacing the stuff that made them a value and viable brand – using coated mineral crystals and replacing stainless with polymers. Lior of SWI got into the game around this time. Where once he pushed brands that he actually owned the licensing agreement for, like Triumph and Jacques Lemans, he wanted to compete head to head with Invicta and so introduced Swiss Legend. These were “Swiss Movement” watches and Laylo loved to point out that all of his “Swiss” watches were the best value – because they were made in Switzerland. This occurred as better quality Chinese made brands were introduced (Android) and Invicta was beset by one scandal after another; caught lying about materials and having to admit that “Swiss” was actual Chinese.

The one commonality with all the TV brands is that they own no factories. They are a brand with designers who outsource it’s manufacture to the lowest bidder. I’ve seen TV Watch brand fans laugh off Fossil. But brands like Invicta are not even in Fossils league. The company actually takes a lead in quality and works with the suppliers at the manufacturing level to ensure the highest possible quality standards. Go to your local TJ Maxx and compare the two sometime.

WHEN James “No Cut Contract” Skelton replaced Tim Temple, he brought an entirely new demographic to the world of Horology. The Coors Lite; riding motorcycles in shorts and flip flops crowd people who smoked cigars and left the rings on; that drank Chardonnay from a box while wearing shirts with the top 4 buttons undone. These were not watch idiot savants – they was plain fucking idiots.

I’VE suspected that WOW.TV was a reaction to the Invicta Swinese scandal. They had been at a competitive disadvantage with Invicta who was claiming to offer supposed Swiss made watches at the same or lower prices. Always subjected to the Invicta crew of Davis, Lalo, Jill and even Skelton implying that consumers were getting Swiss made. Having handled both Swiss Legend and Invicta, the quality is slightly higher in more of the SWI examples. Surely Lior had handled the competition and realized he was surpassing Invicta but always second fiddle.

By the looks of it, WOW is a success and they are pushing Invicta product as well; sometimes the same product as Shop but far cheaper. Their customer service is legendary and far surpasses the complaints with SNBC and invicta’s CS blackhole.

AFTER the Michael Davis sticky on watchgeeks throwing Daniel Mink under the bus followed a day later with a Mink email blast announcing the planned termination of the WG/Renato relationship and launch of Renatogeeks.com and RenatoTV, two of the five major TV brands are now representing themselves with a major web presence and streaming internet tv shows. Are the remaining few far behind? How will ShopNBC and Invicta fair? Where once it looked as if ShopNBC was becoming THE Invicta channel, they have started to introduce SkyMalls favorite brand, Stauer, as well as a higher profile for Android.

Another competitive factor is Jim Skelton and where he’ll end up in September. Could Android be the next to go solo with Jim at the sales helm pushing Wing’s dreams to the fiends? Or is he headed to JTV as some are claiming and what will that do for the trailer park network and how it competes with ShopNBC?

WHILE it’s old news now, it is still funny that Invicta Technical Brand Manager Michael “Fuckin” Davis became so interested in the undelivered Renato tourbillons by posting the following missive on watchgeeks.net. Interesting when one considers that Invicta is planning on releasing their very own Chinese tourbillons. One has to wonder if Invicta is sourcing from the same Chinese source. Might Invicta actually be impacting the delivery of the Renato movements by paying to jump ahead of Renato? It’s interesting that Davis says that people should cancel their orders. When are those Invicta tourbillons slated for release?

“First off, I want to say that I am writing this message as the founder of WatchGeeks, one of the former owners of WatchGeeks and the current Administrator/Managing Director of WatchGeeks. My current position with Invicta has nothing to do with this post or this situation.

Let me re-cap the situation as I see it and know it:

#1. Daniel Mink offered for sale a tourbillon approximately 2 months ago. Based upon stories later concerning fine tuning the power reserve and now a glitch and glitches, one can only make the logical conclusion that he knew these watches were not ready to be shipped out. Since Daniel does not have his own production facilities, he certainly knew that he did not have them in his possession. At this time, no mention was made that this was an advance sale or that the watches were not ready for delivery or that there was anything amiss with the watches, glitches or otherwise. Credit cards were charged and money was taken from customers.

#2. A single watch was sent to Jim Skelton for promotion.

#3. When people begin to complain about delivery of their watches, Daniel indicated that 50 of them had been sent out already and that the remaining units were “coming soon”. It is often noted how odd it is that no one on WatchGeeks received one of these 50 pieces even though a large number of members ordered them.

#4. Around the same time as Item #3 above, Daniel indicated that what was happening with the watches was fining tuning the watches and in particular the power reserve on the watches.

#5. A voucher was sent out to those that ordered the watches as a bit of compensation to those that waited on the tourbillon and were experiencing the delays. Only problem is, the “fine print” included a stipulation that the use of the voucher would negate the ability of the holder of the voucher to cancel their tourbillon and get their money back.

#6. A member here posts that he spoke to Renato customer service at about the 4 week point and was told to expect another two months or so of delay on the delivery. A couple of other members then confirm this same timeline.

#7. At this point I contact Daniel directly to address the issue. He tells me that customer service never said this and that delivery of the watches was close. He was out of the country and it was late there. He told me that he would call me the next day and that an update would be going out on WatchGeeks.

#8. Daniel never did call me back. Or email me. Or communicate with me in any other way. He did make a post here a few days later indicating that the watches would be shipping to customers in approximately 2 weeks.

#9. It is now, as I write this, two weeks later and the watches have not shipped. An additional update has now been made indicating that there will now be additional weeks before delivery begins.

#10. In the update referenced in Item #9, references to “glitches” are now being made. A “glitch” is not tweaking the power reserve of the movement to get a longer reserve time. A glitch or glitches are problem(s) with the movement. Certainly not the excuse that was originally given as to the delay of the piece.

Bottom line, this is NOT acceptable behavior for someone using this site as a means to promote their site and the pieces they sell. We are now right at 2 months into a wait on these pieces. Only 150 were made. A competent watchmaker can build 3 to 4 tourbillons per day in a standard work day. I even went so far as to verify this with another vendor on this forum that has extensive experience building the exact same movement. Again, only 150 of these tourbillons were made. Do the math how many times a small team could assemble, disassemble and then reassemble these 150 watches.

If a member came on here and was selling watches and following the same steps as Renato, we would have banned them long ago. We have rules in place for our sales forum that prevents people from selling watches that they do not have and cannot send out as soon as the financial transaction is made. And we do not give members 2+ months to send the watches to the people that pay for them. Our rules (TOS) for the sales section of this forum are there to protect the sellers and the buyers. And while Renato did not sell their watches via our site, they did receive promotion via this site to facilitate their sales. I cannot help but feel that our sales TOS/rules apply at least in spirit to any vendor that comes here and uses this site to market their products.

It is my initial thought to ban Renato from this site. However, I don’t have the time to deal with this issue right now. I am on the eve of departing on a vacation combined with a birthday trip. It is my personal recommendation to those awaiting delivery of said tourbillon to cancel their order. While I may not be the biggest watch industry expert in the world, I have (of the course of two years in this industry) gained some level of expertise. I am completely and totally uncomfortable with this situation and how it is playing out. Something on many different levels is just flat out wrong. But, that is just my personal opinion. Officially, I will say that this issue needs to have a resolution by June 15th. If it has not been resolved, then Renato’s ongoing participation on this site is probably going to be gone. Again, we would not tolerate even the smallest part of the actions of Renato when applied to those using this site to sell watches. Whether handled incompetently or be it something else, this situation is just wrong on many, many different levels.

I know Renato has many loyal fans here. That is great. I became a fan of their brand and a customer of theirs shortly after they arrived at SNBC. At one point, I owned 30+ Renatos. For those that have been involved in the watch forums for a while now, they will remember that I was banned off of another watch site (where I had been an administrator) in large part due to my loyalty to Renato and speaking out on their behalf and defending them. And, I know Daniel and his partner personally. I have spent time with them in MN at SNBC as well as in FL. I do not take this decision lightly. But, I have to go with what I feel is right for this forum. No one is saying you can’t be a fan of their brand or their customer. But, if they wish to continue to participate here, then their actions must justify that ongoing participation. This tourbillon issue is not acceptable.

I will be in touch with you on a final resolution to this matter on or about June 15th.

Thank you for your time and for reading this very long post.”

Daniel Mink was made aware of the Invicta Technical Brand Manager’s comments and his response was:

“…it has been dealt with. You wont here from his dumb mouth again”

IN usual watchgeek fashion, the post is reported to have disappeared.

———-update 2:57 PM—————

It’s official; Renato is out at watchgeeks just like Skelton! Via watchlords.net:

“Renato Email sent this afternoon
======================

Dear Friend,

It is my pleasure today to announce to you three major milestones in our history that we would like to notify you about.

1. Renato Watches is no longer part of WatchGeeks.net

Renato Watches is no longer part of the WatchGeeks.net forum. This was a mutual decision as Renato intends to launch it’s own forum http://www.renatogeeks.com in thirty days. On this site, our loyal fans will be able to openly & freely discuss any topics regarding Renato Watches as well as be privy to brand new up coming designs, sneak peeks and etc. These are all things that we were not able to do onwatchgeeks.net for various reasons. Our forum will feature many exciting sections including one where members can display and trade/sell watches to other members.

While Renato is no longer listed on watchgeeks.net and our new forum is being created. Please feel free on the meantime to contact me via email (daniel@renatowatches.com) or facebook (Danielmink) with any questions you may have.

2. The Renato Affiliate Program

Over the past seven years, many of you have purchased many of our timepieces and have built significant collections with them. In lieu of this, you have become our best advocate and testimonial. Therefore, in the coming week, we at Renato plan to launch the Renato Affiliate Program (RAP).

With this program you will be actually earn money by simply referring our timepieces to your friends, family and associates. From then on, you can earn up to 20% of every purchase they make! Details will be sent to you next week on how to join and start earning cash.

3. Live stream Renato Shows

In the coming months, Renato Watches will launch shows online featuring myself along with special surprise guests from the watch industry to launch brand new collections. These shows will be streamed online at http://www.shoprenato.com.

In honor of these special events mentioned above we have decided to increase our current voucher promo TU770 from 20 to 27% off currently listed prices. This will be in affect for just 48 hours and then it will go back to 20%….

Make sure to take advantage of this window of opportunity and save even more money.

If you have any questions, please free to reach out to me via email (Daniel@renatowatches.com) or via Facebook(Danielmink).

All the best,

Daniel Mink
CEO
Renato Watches, Inc.”

Watchgeeks is slowly starting to look like myspace circa 2007…

Mink v. Temple?

November 23, 2009

IS it me or is there a noticable tension between Daniel Mink and Tim Temple? Temple keeps heaping praise on the Renato timepieces but Mink keeps making snarky comments and one wonders where Daniel’s comment regarding being nice because you “never know when your paths may cross again” is directed.

Might the two have a history? It’s quite possible that Mink could have approached JTV or even Shop At Home? It is conceivable that Mink approached other networks after Renato “left” ShopNBC? Could it have been Mr. Temple that derailed any deal? I suspect that the JTV team would have been reluctant to work with Renato because of the complaints from consumers of the diamond quality and clarity, as well as the questionable origin of some timepieces presented as Swiss Made.

A pattern that I’ve noticed with callers is that they are clearly Camp Jim or Camp Tim. I also notice that Tim Temple never makes any mention of Jim Skelton; instead referring to the period that Skelton took over as “The Watch Program”. Correct me if I am wrong, but I have yet to hear Jim Skelton say Tim’s name or Temple saying Jim’s name.

And did you hear John from Texas? Renato watches gave him the will to live?!