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?

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Anything but divers

March 16, 2010

I wrote this blog while waiting in my office lot for the column of stopped traffic to slowly move and disappear over the horizon. I had about half an hour to kill and I’d been going crazy, jonezing for a watch. I ended up at my TJ Maxx presented with three choices: a Rotary Chrono with a rotating bezel in a dive configuration with a pressed steel sing deployent and a face marked “A Swiss Institution”; a Victorinox chrono with a high set polished thin bezel devoid of markings, three different rings and a dual deployent and finally a Zodiac chrono with silver face, hidden pushers and scissors deployent…

IT’S been over a year since I bought a Zodiac Air Dragon Chronograph. This watch grabbed me because of the $90 price tag and my experience with 4 other Zodiac models.

Since I was but a boy leaning to haggle with flea creeps and people who equate age with value, I’ve always sought the “Deal”. But with the simultaneous rise of fashion brands relative to their quality, the deals, real deals on quality Swiss made pieces are far and few between. Today we see both the Grandfather of faux provenance along side the fashion brands, both, for the most part, Million Smart clones that differ only in the European name on the dial. Their Côtes de Genève pressed and not engine turned into the bridges of Chinese dials. If there is any Swiss today, it’s 40mm which I’m even guilty of abandoning.

I guess there are always dive watches.

Jesus Christ, it’s all there are! From eBay to forums, ShopNBC to TJ Maxx the story is the same. Desk Divers. How many ways can it be done? Big markers, distinct hands and a rotating bezel. Variety comes in the form of Invicta’s appropriated Soviet divers. I’m over all of it. I’ve embraced 44mm watches but i refuse to wear a saucer nearly as big as something on my arm that Flavor Flav had strung around his neck 25 years ago. With the exception of a handful of models, most of these oversized pieces look almost as if they are a parody of themselves. I’m thinking of the Invicta Venom and the CX Swiss Military Watch rated to 20,000 Feet. Come on – the deepest I go is 12 feet in the pit of my pool. I don’t need a watch that is an inch high of my wrist. I don’t crave attention and can accept my insignificance. Absurdity is the new Rock n’ Roll in horology. Who’d a thought people would embrace something like the Invicta combat (I.E. All Black) editions of established models; “sport” watch sans lume.

Will we ever again see aviator watches with slide rule bezels? How about Max Bill style minimalist dials that Nomos once resurrected? I can appreciate what both Invicta and Croton are doing with the vintage, minimalist dials and case designs, but I’d buy if they took this design nod seriously.

Anything but divers…