AFTER much talk of “changing the game” and a big countdown on his Public Figure Facebook page, Jim Skelton made the announcement that Betterskills had speculated on months ago; that he would join Lior’s fledgling World of Watches TV that is streamed live on Ustream and on the satillite infomercial channel. Jim will be sharing Ustream bandwidth with such esteemed internet shows as Two Bored Guys, Chanchaka Charmy and Alison Rosen is Your Best Friend.

This move isn’t much different than the Stickam Couch Tour that I suggested he take.

WoW – how far the “mighty” have fallen. It will be interesting to see if Skelton continues his behavior that seemed to put him into a bad light with ShopNBC brass and ultimately lead to his dismissal at the number three net. Will he take on forum owners and this blog as he has done in the past? Will he troll forums?

Or has he learned his lesson?

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AFTER weeks of silence and a noticeable decline of fanbois and girls on his public Facebook page, Jim Skelton is again interacting with the public at said page. While only an anecdotal observation, It seems that as his absence from cable has dragged on, he began receiving less adoration and responses to wall posts. His continual thanking of people for their support also suggests that he had no call in the decision to leave the number three network. As were the tone of the calls when he was a host, every post on his public page seems to follow the same narrative – you got me into collecting; “I know longer” purchase watches from ShopNBC; that British guy sucks; Tim Temple sucks; when are you going somewhere to sell me watches…

He’s also taking swipes at his former employer;

“Yeah, they’ve been KILLING prices and maxing out Value Pays lately… wonder why huh? LOL”

As well as at fellow hosts:

“At the least, with Daniel you don’t ever have to endure “Ummm”, “Uhhhh” every 3rd word because he is a true professional in front of the camera. Can’t say that for everyone though…” Clearly this is in reference to Tim Temple who’s “uhhh” and “ummm” are his signature presentation style.

“I do not watch the shows. The RARE occasion I do, I will only watch Daniel or Shawn.” This is funny because he accused Wilsey of grandstanding when he publicly left Watchgeeks – guess he hates Tim “Replaced me” Temple that much more.

“I honestly think Mike (and select other vendor guests) are the only life & personality left on the watch shows.”

As this blog previously reported, the word was that Jim Skelton was very uncool to Tim Temple when they had run in’s after the later was replaced by ShopNBC. Stories have also been floating around that Skelton tried to undermine Temple when he was brought back – again, these are unsubstantiated but Skelton’s past behavior on TV and even this blog suggests an unsavory personality.

THE big question is, where will Skelton end up? He’ll definitely generate sales as there are people waiting for him to tell them what to buy. Will it be JTV? He’d fit in well with the white trash hosts on that network. Will he end up at WOW? That’s starting to seem unlikely. WOW is blowing it out with Charla and I doubt his salary would be worth the slight increase in sales. I used to think that we’d see Invicta TV with Skelton as the host, but after telling Jill Sommerstein she should have twins and name one Holocaust, leaving her visibly upset, that is not going to happen either.

He’s hinting that something is going to happen. Maybe it will be live on Stickam from the couches of those still “caught up in his allure”

One things for sure, it’s funny how it’s come full circle and Temple has replaced an apparently fired Skelton and it makes this Michael “Fuckin” Davis post from December of 2008 even funnier:

Considering how and under what circumstances Tim left SNBC “back in the day”, I doubt that would be the last place he would show up. While he may be liked there by some of the old timers, I am willing to bet that there is still enough management around to remember how he left to go start up a direct competitor and took 3 or 4 of the most popular hosts with him.

I wish no one at JTV any ill will, but it is not looking good at the moment.
__________________
Michael

On February 19th I am launching my own WorldofWatches.TV shopping show, it will be broadcasting live every Saturday and Sunday from 6pm to 9pm Eastern Time on Direct TV channel 227. I hope you and your friends and family will watch me.

Thanks,

Lior Ben-Shmuel
President & CEO
The SWI Group

BETTERSKILLS can confirm that Swiss Watch International is indeed launching it’s own televised watch program as well as a streaming version on the Internet.

THIS move comes on the heals of the FCC approval of the NBC Universal/Comcast merger and weeks after a proposed ShopNBC stock offerings. One wonders how this new televised shopping outlet affect Invicta and the distant third home shopping network sales. World of Watches is the premier “Deal of the Day” site and moves quite a few high end brands, like Wyler, as well as their own house brands, like Swiss Legend, Jaques Lemans and Triumph. WoW routinely moves quite a bit of Invicta merchandise typically way below ShopNBC pricing on even current Shop stock.

IT’S no secret that a lot of people are tired of the constant Invicta cavalcade on ShopNBC which is starting to look as ridiculous as the “Shopping Is A Feeling ” scene in the movie True Stories.

I’d long thought that this would be an Invicta move. Looks like SWI flanked them.

BACK on February 3, 2010, Jim Skelton mentioned that he was designing a line of art deco inspired timepieces while presenting Stuhrling Original watches opposite Larry Magen.

Since then, Invicta has launched the Imperious line which they originally claimed they were only financing until google searches revealed that Imperious was actually just another
Activa; a trademark owned by Invicta Watch Company. It has been the
subject of open speculation that ole Jimmy Skelton was actually the designer behind this line. I actually forgot even reporting Skelton’s revelation so many months ago. That was until I was wandering around a Borders and came across the book, 1001 Watches. Skimming through it, I found what might be the impetus and inspiration for the worst model from
Imperious, the Jail Bait Jail Break.

It’s been panned by even the most clueless of WIS as uninspired and ridiculous. A true caricature of oversized wrist bound ‘extreme’. When I read the accompanying description and it identified this as an ‘Art Deco’ piece, I remembered Jim’s announcement. I present the Vachron Constantin Montre a volets from 1930.
The ‘bars’ are actually blinds that hide the face, but when open offer a similar look to ‘prison bars’. One thing is for sure, the designer of the Jail Bait Jail
Break
really doesn’t understand the “art deco” era or how to reinterpret those design elements. When the first photos of the Jail Bait Jail Break hit the Net it found very few fans. On the Invicta financed watchgeeks, the majority had nothing nice to say so the thread was noticeably light. Since the reveal we’ve seen a lot of pictures of the X-Wing and Shattered and the price has been halved on some models of the unbalanced Gearhead, even as many early buyers of the overpriced models attempt to dump them on Geeks. WE
seem to have a clue as to where that most obtuse Jail Bait Jail Break design came from, now the question is when will it air and how poor will sales be?

FROM the October 1 edition of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:

Kobold Watch Co. is turning out high-end watches at its headquarters in Robinson at roughly half capacity these days — which is perfectly fine with its owner and founder.

Michael Kobold deliberately limits his handmade watch production to less than 2,500 a year. Partly because of the recession, the company produced only 1,200 watches last year, about the same as in 2008.

“It’s important for quality control,” said Kobold. “And it’s a matter of exclusivity. With a lot of our competitors, they’ve gotten to be commodities.”

The company he founded in 1998 is one of the few remaining watchmakers in America. Kobold produces 30 models, with most of them priced between $2,500 and $5,000; others reach as high as $42,000.

Each watch is built to function in extreme conditions, such as frigid temperatures during mountain climbing, water pressures of deep-sea diving and breakage from combat fighting.

Kobold’s cachet appeals to the well-heeled and well-known. Wearers include actors Kiefer Sutherland of the TV series “24,” Pittsburgh native Jeff Goldblum and James Gandolfini, star of “The Sopranos.” When the mob series ended in 2007, Gandolfini presented his fellow actors and entire crew with Kobold watches, including gold ones — at a cost of about $3 million, Kobold said.

The watches rest on the wrists of British race car star Sir Stirling Moss and numerous Navy SEALs. The company’s “brand ambassador” is explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, a polar explorer and mountain climber dubbed the “greatest living explorer” by the Guinness Book of World Records.

“In the expedition business, I need equipment that is happy in the cold and can keep out all the dust and moisture so it can work accurately,” said Sir “Ran,” 66, reached in Somerset, England.

Sir Ran receives no money for his endorsements, only his favorite watch: Kobold’s The Phantom model, which features a special lubricant inside to function in temperatures down to minus-45 degrees Fahrenheit. The former Rolex wearer/endorser switched allegiances several years ago after some convincing from Kobold’s owner.

“Michael is a very fine and trustworthy person with strong willpower who makes fantastic watches,” said Sir Ran, who climbed Mt. Everest with the watchmaker in May 2009.

Kobold’s production capacity is limited largely by its number of workers — just nine people, including Kobold. And only four of them assemble the timepieces.

“It’s a great watch. You don’t run into many of them out there because Kobold doesn’t produce many, and I like that,” said Kobold wearer Gary Girdvainis, who is editor-in-chief at International Watch magazine, Fairfield, Conn.

“There’s very few high-end watchmakers in this country. Most are Swiss-based, and a few are German,” said Girdvainis, who has followed the industry for about 20 years. “But Kobold’s watches are more robust and better built than the average Swiss watch.”

Credit the passion and magnetism of Michael Kobold, 31. Born to a German industrialist, Kobold became fascinated with watches as a teen in Frankfurt. At age 16, he sought out and interned with a famed German watchmaker for three years.

After he moved to Pittsburgh and enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University, Kobold founded the company as a class project at age 19 while working toward his bachelors of managerial economics degree, which he earned in 2001.

“He wrote a business plan on selling expensive watches. And I thought, ‘How many people are going to go on the Internet to buy expensive watches?'” said Jack Roseman, retired CMU professor of entrepreneurship.

“I did not appreciate his marketing skills at first. But I learned he wins people over,” said Roseman of McCandless. “Michael will go anywhere to anyone in society to try to sell them a watch.”

Kobold, who designs all his company’s watches in concert with its daredevil wearers, is an adventurer. He climbed Mt. Everest twice — in 2009 and in May — to raise money for the Navy SEALs Warrior Fund, a nonprofit group that offers support to wounded SEALs and their families.

It takes two to three years of training, usually at institutions in Switzerland and Germany, to became a proper watchmaker, he said.

Kobold watches are stamped with “Pittsburgh, PA,” but they do not carry a “Made in the U.S.A.” emblem. That’s because the Federal Trade Commission requires that manufacturers stating such claims make “all or virtually all” of the product in the United States.

While Kobold obtains all its cases and crystals from American manufacturers, it must source its “movements” (components) from Swiss manufacturers. The company assembles about 90 percent of its watches at the Robinson facility and about 10 percent in Switzerland

“No watches — not ours or any of our competitors — can say, ‘Made in the U.S.A.,'” Kobold said. The component manufacturing base does not exist in the United States, he said.

“It’s a nightmare because many (suppliers) go out of business,” Kobold said. For instance, he recently discovered one of his suppliers, a fifth-generation company in Switzerland, ceased operations.

“They hadn’t received a single order in 11 months. So now, we’re trying to buy their machines,” Kobold said.

“What we’re trying to do is not only be based in America but move manufacturing jobs to this country,” he said.

Compare Kobold watches to Invicta’s latest marketing gimmick- the Coalition Forces. These pieces are stamped “Field Tested” on the back. Recently one of the members of watchgeeks asked on the forum what tests the timepieces were put through. Of course, forum owner and ShopNBC horological expert Jim Skelton didn’t know and had to put the question to Invicta CEO Eyal Lalo. His response was priceless, “..it is simply a marketing and branding slogan, there were no actual field tests performed.”

At least they’re being honest finally.

Okay, they admit that this timepiece, that on several occasion they have marketed on the air as being made to “military standards” and “field tested” is just more obtuse schlock and parody. But recently, old Skelton sunk to a new low when he said  this watch and future Invicta military influenced designs are a tribute to our men and women overseas…

“…I am very proud of Invicta for doing this because all of this is really honoring our great service men and women that are overseas right now protecting our rights, protecting our freedoms as a country and this is one of the ways…you know think about it this way you’ve got a friend or family member that may be deployed currently. Really great gift to give them that they can actually use as a practical tool, or when they come back just as a commemoration of what they’ve done….”

Here’s the video

Where Kobold is actually making military timepieces and doing something for wounded SEALs, Invicta and ShopNBC despicably use the men and woman in the Armed services for sales.

UPDATE 09/29/2010:

The “drearies” have spoken! They believe that this latest 8-K filing is to protect ShopNBC management from a shareholder revolt. The critics seem to think that Q3 and Q4 will continue to see losses because of needed changes within the current ShopNBC model and a continuing soft economic outlook. I’ve seen predictions from the “cheeries” that the stock would hit $5.00; and after the Q2 results call, it seemed probable. But then Board Chair Randy Ronning sold 70,000 shares and the stock has continued to lose roughly .05 cents a week after a jump to $2.00. At this moment settling in at $1.83.

—————–/-/-/-/-/-:-:————-

From the the homeshoppingista blog yesterday:

Is ShopNBC anticipating a lawsuit?

On Monday the financially ailing No. 3 home shopping network filed an 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission saying that it was entering into indemnification agreements with each of the company’s directors and officers.

“Under each Indemnification Agreement, the Company has agreed to indemnify each director and officer who is involved in any threatened, pending, or completed action, suit, or proceeding, whether civil, criminal, administrative, arbitration or investigative, in connection with his or her service to the Company, against all losses, claims, damages, expenses (including attorneys’ fees), and liabilities reasonably incurred by such person in connection with the proceeding,” the filing said.

“The Company believes that the Indemnification Agreements are necessary to provide directors and officers increased certainty of such protection in the future and to attract and retain qualified persons to serve in such positions,” ShopNBC said.

Mmmm, who might be suing?”

There are an entire list of possible parties. Maybe Plasticase is going after ShopNBC for hawking their dive case design that Invicta allegedly ripped off. Might it be the Swiss Federation for providing a platform for Invicta to market Chinese watches as Swiss Made? Or maybe it is the victims of identity theft related to “insider wrong doing” that was reported to the New York State Consumer Protection Board?

Might Invicta’s year of troubles, which has continued with the, latest TTV RS8 Sea Spider finally burned that brands bridges at the number three tv shopping network and forced managements hand to sever ties with Invicta?

The possibility also exists that employee wrongdoing or questionable actions have opened the network up to liability.

Updates posted as they appear.

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?