watchgeeks.nyet

July 15, 2014

I’ve been peripherally following the milestones and hiccups in the world of TV horology and was aware that Invicta’s primary propaganda tool, watchgeeks.net, had been down for some time.

On a whim, I checked in today and saw this message from Invicta Watch Company CEO, Eyal Lalo:

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The explanation jumps right out at me:

“We were not supplied with the required codes necessary to serve the site and the existing content was blocked from our access.”

“In this past week, we then discovered, that the entire database had been intentionally erased this destroying the platform we worked so hard to diligently preserve for you to enjoy.”

The page auto-directs uses to Invicta’s Facebook page.

THIS statement seems to imply that someone maliciously took down watchgeeks and the inference to be made is that former Technical Brand Perception Manager, Michael Davis, would be the culprit. He was the administrator of the website and he publicly rage quit back in April.

In Davis’ Facebook post from June 21st, he makes mention of the neglect of the site:

“I tuned over the daily administration and maintenance of WatchGeeks to Invicta about a month ago when they would not come to terms with me over the ongoing work needed to keep it running. “

BUT interestingly, he seemed to still have enough access to state that “…(Invicta) have done absolutely no maintenance or work on the site (which is the reason why there is 3,000 membership requests sitting in queue that have not been processed).”

He went on to say that “…sooner or later that site will come crashing down.”

While I do think he’s a shithead, evidenced by his proclivity to use the ban hammer while at geeks and that threatening website directed at Koi over at watchlords; his malicious act of sabotaging watchgeeks?

Nope.

In reading through Davis’ Facebook posts, it’s clear that he just had enough of ShopHQ and Invicta.

Why?

Maybe because they send Invicta rep, and former model, Ryan Johnson to all of the remotes in sunny tropical locations while Davis stews in the Minnesota studio like Bumble the Yeti at 3:30am.

Was he tired of the constant attacks and references to his past? Maybe the guy that called in live to a Davis and Temple show and claimed he robbed bowling ally to support his Invicta addiction was the straw that broke the camels back.

I think the site was deliberately left to rot. Maybe that mail I got back in 2010 about a supposed watchgeeks social network on ning really was a strategy and not a hoax?

Watchgeeks turned into a means to an end for Invicta. A place where dissent could be squashed through deliberate and calculated attacks on character and fellow members were whipped into a frenzy to belittle and run off ‘negative’ posters. It was used to marginalized and ostracize critics. It became a point of control. And the artifacts and proof posted by pissed off consumers could easily be deleted.

But times changed. Social media changed. What once was possible to control was not as people took to social media and messageboards and eviscerated Invicta for their poor quality and misrepresented products. Hardcore Invictards abandoned the brand and nearly all of the folks that used to routinely threaten and attack me on this blog were either kicked off of watchgeeks as they were no longer useful and disappeared or they have become vocal Invicta critics because they saw the light.

As new leadership takes the reins at ShopHQ, I wonder how much longer Invicta will air on the network. It’s the same product, over and over. How many different color combinations can you put on a Bolt and act excited about?

A new social media strategy may be exactly what Invicta needs to again become relevant in a genre crowded with the addition of micro brands. In killing off watchgeeks they can further distance themselves from all of the bad karma that geeks generated. In suggesting that it was taken down maliciously, they attempt to create animus toward Davis and his ‘solopreneur’ endeavors for the remaining diehards obsessed with post counts.

The death of watchgeeks could be the clean break and reboot that the Invicta watch company needs.

I think it’s too late.

//smt/

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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?

PEOPLE wanna know; what is a Technical Brand Manager? The only individual that I’ve ever known to have this title is Michael “Grape Ape” Davis; co-owner of watchgeeks.net and Technical Brand Manager of Invicta Watch Group. Magilla Gorilla has never answered this question; “What is a Technical Brand Manager?” He won’t even address it. He’s real quick to spit out movement specs as seen on Google and to talk down to people who call bullshit on his various statements and question his “technical chops.” But the minute the shit hit the fan over Invicta’s Swinagate he quickly made the point that he repeats what he’s told; that he just sells the watches and doesn’t know what’s in them. A lot of people have taken him to task on such maters because his title leads them to assume that he’s involved in the manufacturing process. Still others know he isn’t and just wanna bust his balls. He’s really no different than a lot of the people out there whose collections and horological world view consist only of TV brands but the difference is that they have not been knighted the Technical Brand Manager by a design house.

His “Big Statement” a few days ago may finally have provided some insight into just what a technical brand manager is. After months of questions he finally addressed WG members regarding Swinagate and the Great D-D debacle of 2010. But it wasn’t the apology they sought or any explanation of what might have gone wrong on past TTV presentations. He spoke not as an employee of Invicta, but as the owner of the forum. In a nutshell he said stop complaining or leave. If you continue to complain, you’ll be banned. Davis states that the site has no expectation of free speech because it is HIS forum and he makes the rules.

HIS actual purpose is to managing brand perception. That’s why Invicta is his employer and the sites financer. Through the use of proxies, i.e. True Geeks and Super Geeks, as well as Mods and the owners themselves, Invicta is attempting to rewrite the narrative and create a false perception of what they actually are, a trademark/design house and what they are not; a true manufacturer of quality timepieces.

Some of the first negative perceptions about the brand followed Lalo’s main cheerleader and master Photoshoper, Jim Skelton. Both he and Davis were run off of BDWF because members apparently didn’t want to involuntarily become Invicta forum members. Davis has stated that he was “tired of the negativity” but if the recent months at WGs are any indication, one has to ask why “negativity” seems to follow Invicta around?

Part of managing the Invicta image was to cultivate a small group of what I like to refer to as Yellow Shirts, or Invictards. These loyal bodies will go out of their way to squash any “negative” posts; negativity defined as complaints regarding poor CS, QC or discussions of the outright lies used to market Invicta products. They use amateur bullying tactics like belittling the posters and piling on in mass. Most people who haven’t been around the net from its inception are not aware of the Internet Tuff Guy and so they just avoid further conflict; they also care about how they are perceived by the greater community.

I realized this early on by paying attention to key word frequency patterns; like “Malcontent”. A word thrown my way a few times which I later found out that this is what they call anyone who strays from the party line on watchgeeks. I’ve also noticed that these Yellow Shirts claim I’m “negative” – again, this is code for Truth.

Some of these same pit bulls also lavish great praise on the brand, relating stories about how they stop retail traffic with their watches. The most striking contrast of the detachment from reality were some of the WG members that went to great lengths to try and turn the tone of D-D Speedway complaint threads with their experience of flawless pieces without defect, and one in particular that implied that the appraised value of the watch made keeping defective models worth the continued value pays on a non-functioning piece.

This approach had been very effective for a few years , but flop after flop has created more and more disillusioned consumers. The curtain has been pulled back; the emperor is naked.

Are these folks compensated in some way? What skin do they have in this continued game? If they are receiving compensation or free watches, this would surely violate the FTCs rules of disclosure for bloggers with “material connections” These rules do also include “word-of-mouth” marketers which these individuals would fall under in this instance.

AS for the “Technical” bit of the title, I do believe that is to delineate his role as the man running Invicta’s active web initiative; watchgeeks is Invicta. It also allows for a murkiness around what his actual function is – turd polishin’.

End Game

February 10, 2010

UPDATE 4/2/2010: A review of the ShopNBC schedule reveals that Tim Temple not only has double the hours of watch presentations of Skelton, but Temple’s hours include

Hello fans and haters. Sorry I’ve been absent for so long. Work got in the way along with a screenplay and The Blizzard of Oz that crippled the East Coast and drove me into living like a refugee in a hotel for several days.

SINCE Jim “In Cognito” Skelton resurfaced like Bubby the whale from Flap Jack and spouted off on the last blog, a few things of note have taken place.

Take a look at the next week of scheduling. Tim Temple has surpassed Jim Skelton in on air hours. As I mentioned to him in my response on the last blog, I expected Temple’s hours to increase relative to his. I felt that would be a sign that Skelton was on his way out. Granted, this is one week but it’s something that those of you playing at home can monitor in the days that lead up to that medical absence which dovetails nicely with my assumption that Skelton would anounce a hiatus. If my memory and math are correct, Skelton signed a new contract in late September/ early October. As I wrote in the original blog, I believed that his contract would tie him up and keep him off competitors airwaves. His leave is for a series of minor surgeries yet it is keeping him off the air for several weeks. He has not been specific with a return date and that’s because, I think, he’s not. Not as an official ShopNBC host anyway. Last month he mentioned during a Stührfling show that he was designing a line of art deco inspired watches. And who might he be designing those pieces for? Omega? Tissot? Hublot? Ha, ha, it’s surely Invicta or a brand of the watchgroup. So he may yet surface opposite Temple on ShopNBC.

DOES this sound crazy? Maybe. But his announcement of his three day “Your Time with Jim Skelton” on watchgeeks sure reads like a farewell, interestingly noted by one of the forum members.

Skelton, either by accident or design, has managed to create a loyal following that can impact sales yet his behavior and treatment of forum members seems to also have had a negative impact to the Shop’s bottom line. While his legions of fans are easily identifiable and public, the disgruntled group is a relative unknown to anyone without the metrics that SNBC surely collects.