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.

MIGHT the exit of Jim Skelton from ShopNBC be due to eroding watch sales?

Just days after ShopNBC released Q4 results for 2010, Mr. Skelton disappeared from the airwaves and neither side is saying anything of substance. You’ll remember that I speculated he would be gone a year ago following a series of bizarre, on-air actions and statements in October of 2009 after the announcement that Tim Temple was being brought back to the network who had fired him six years prior. What followed were twelve months that saw one Invicta flop and scandal after another. But dead watches and hands that fell off were not limited to Invicta as other brands sold by the network arrived in non-working order to customers. Mr. Skelton continued his hostile behavior, famously throwing a ruler on the set and teasing Larry Magen about his dye job to the point that Mr. Magen snapped on the air. Mr. Skelton was also absent for long stretches of time, leading many to believe that the end of the Skelton era had arrived. Upon his return he began calling out this blog as well as individual members of the Watchlords forum as well as adopting a very snide tone with his forum membership.

As people complained on watchgeeks about inferior products and misleading statements used to sell the watches they were systematically banned or bullied by the Yellow shirt enforcers into silence on the Watchgeek forum. But these heavy handed actions didn’t stop the descent; seemingly generating more. As the one year anniversary of my original blog approached, Mr. Skelton started bragging about signing a long term, no cut contract.

EVEN I was surprised when I saw the news. I assumed I had seemingly made the correct case but was off by a year. I did forget about the earnings call and so I took a look at the earnings information released by VVTV. At first I was equally shocked about the 6% decline in watch sales against the same time period last year at the psychological height of the depression. But is it really that shocking? The former individual owners of Watchgeeks, as well as others who I’d consider friends of this blog, usually downplay my suggestion that Shop watch sales were driven primarily by Watchgeek membership and it has always been thought, albeit anecdotally, that all of the testimonial calls into Mr. Skelton’s shows were plants. But in a thread on WG concerning Mr. Skelton’s split with Shop, we seem to have proof:

A friendship developed on email, and we would exchange idea’s and questions on the timepiece’s. One day Jim emailed me and asked to call into the show, as a customer, who, wanted to express feelings about timepiece’s and invicta models and my experience’s with them.

I called in several times, regarding many timepiece’s and vendor models as well.

I don’t think it is a stretch to believe that Mr. Skelton had bonuses tied to sales and he was not your ordinary shopping channel host. He was a cheerleader and apologist for Invicta long before he ever came to TV, possibly with a retail background. By some accounts a hand picked successor to Tim Temple by Eyal Cool J. Temple who, supposedly wanted more control over product and to push the higher-end. But realistically the margins are much smaller with those classes of timepieces. It makes a lot more sense to sell a Chinese assembled watch marked “Swiss” at several times it’s actual unit cost. Reaching out to just a few dozen individuals like the person quoted above would not only generate sales because of an implied “friendship” but would push other members into making multiple purchases as well; specifically shut ins and individuals with little or no self esteem and a need to belong.

BUT the decline in sales doesn’t fall completely on Mr. Skelton. ShopNBC advertised diamonds on watches that were actually crystal; they marketed Chinese made watches as having a Swiss pedigree; they used a man-made composite of sandstone and marketed it as natural; they sold turquoise dial watches that were a cheap mineral alternative and they sold watches that featured hands that fell of. People started criticizing the fact that every hyped model was just a different color dial or rubber instead of a steel bracelet like the previous version. Again, the complaints grew louder and those voices disappeared. Michael Davis, at the time a Watchgeek owner and still the Technical Brand Manager for Invicta, issued the now famous edict – there is no free speech at Watchgeeks.

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that people tired of getting products that were advertised as something they were not and that they tired of the heavy handedness of the forum. I’d expect a decline in sales to follow. Need more proof? Just take a look at how outrageous his sales presentations became.

IT was my belief in the fall of 2009 that Mr. Skelton would soon be benched. It didn’t come to pass on the original timeline. But now it has, and if we work backwards with a little math based on Mr. Skelton’s own comment on that original blog, he signed in late September or early October of 2009. I’d expect that to run one year, which would have placed his resigning again in that same September / October timeframe. It is now the end of March which would make a late September signing the 6 month mark. I do believe he is going to end up on WoW.tv or an Invicta launched channel. And I think a lot of people will follow him there and he’ll be just fine. Free of the employer oversight that seemingly burned him so many times over the past few years.

Will it be 6 months from now? Is that the real Watch Commander on Twitter claiming to be in Minnesota or an impostor?

Will ShopNBC even be around 6 months from now?

AFTER months of hype and titillation by everyones favorite urbane fashionlessnista, Jim Skelton, the public finally got a glimpse of the much anticipated Invicta
Imperious Jail Bait Jail Break. After the abject failure of the initial InvictaImperious offer, the Gearhead, many wondered if the other proposed models would see the light of day. They have, and boy, are my eyes sore. It’s been speculated
that Mayor McCheesy is the designer behind this line and I have to say – a case could be made. They are obtuse and gaudy and lack any real balance or cohesion as a collection. The fuck is Eyal Laylo thinking to bankroll watches designed by a retail store manager?
Look at his image – I don’t think he could properly design a pile of dirt. Of the four models, the absolute worst of the bad bunch is the Jail Bait Jail Break. From the unaesthetic sideways dial layout that includes a labeled Date arrow
pointing to a nearly impenetrably opaque acrylic dial that obscures
the date wheel to the ridiculous, dare I say, laughable ‘prison’ bars, this thing is the most uninspired, cliche piece that the Invicta Watch Company has churned out yet. I thought Invicta
clearly crossed the taste line with the ARSEnal and the plate sized Sea Hunter, but at least those things still resemble legible timepieces. This thing is the horological equivalent to the Pontiac Aztek. It’s going to be real fun to see who gloats on the various
websites about buying one; more fun still to see actual wrist shots and imagine the chode walking around and flosing the wristshit at their local Walmart trying to impress chicks who are hanging around and waiting for their Valtrex prescriptions to be filed. I cannot wait to see the inital price and watching the trajectory as it bottoms out. That’s going to be some Must See TV. MY nine year old son likes mechanical and automatic watches, and I’ve assembled a nice little collection for him that includes a rose gold Sandoz and a Mil issue Hamilton from 1973. He likes to help me decide what watch I’m going to wear on the days I switch up, and you know –
he’s usually right on. So I asked for his impression. “What do you think of this watch?” “It’s hideous and disgusting – no real man should ever be caught wearing that thing! It’s
G-A-Y…” I gave him that disapproving look as I have a lot of lesbian friends and he acknowledged my grievance. So I offer a qualification and direction “Listen buddy, it’s so gay that gay
people are like – Jesus Christ, that thing is way too gay!”

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.”