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,, had been down for some time.

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


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?


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


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.



The Future of

March 19, 2013

BASED on a recent thread over at Watchlords, one cannot help but wonder if’s days are numbered. The Ustream infomercial-as-shopping network is no longer being carried on several cable systems, including Time Warner, FiOS or Dish. A look at wowtv’s website reveals that they are only on DirectTV.

WHAT can we attribute this pull back in spending to? Might it be a result of the losses incurred by SWI’s unsuccessful litigation attempting to take the trademark “Swiss Made” away from the
Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry?

OR might it be the result of the new owners of SWI, Clearlake Capital Group. There has been some speculation that the sale was necessary because of the fight with the Swiss Federation but with this new infusion of capital (and new board members) it may just be nothing more than a change in direction. It could be possible that the cost to included the programming on the cable networks is far more than the actual returns. Couple that with the salaries of the hosts and you have to wonder how much ROI there is even if it is streamed exclusively via the Internet.

In any event, what once seemed a potential challenge to ShopNBC watch sales now looks to be little more than a vanity, basement Internet show.

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 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.

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.


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
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?

UPDATE 09/14/2010: Invicta II Men’s Diver “Sandstone Material” dial as it is now being described, is going for $83.21 and three value pays of $27.74.

UPDATE 09/09/2010: After a week and half, Team Invicta responded to the origin of their “Natural Sandstone” dials confirming what we already know – that they’re about as natural as Pergo wood floors.

“After speaking extensively with numerous experts, there seems to be confusion between the term Sandstone as used in jewelry and sandstone the raw dessert like sand material found in nature. What we are using is absolutely sandstone as known in the jewelry world and is considered a gemstone. That is why when you search the term “sandstone Jewelry” or look at all other vendors you will find a broad selection of jewelry with the same material used as in our sandstone dials. Many stones are modified, bonded, compressed, heated, dyed, bombarded, etc., for use in jewelry. The main reason being one of hardness, since in order to cut semiprecious stones for jewelry or dials you need a minimum hardness of 5-6. Some stones are rare and turned to dust and then compressed with natural, others have a tradition of going by the wrong gemological name such as black onyx which is also dyed black Agatha. No one sells Ruby as a chemical compound (mineral) and tell you its pure aluminum oxide. No one sells Lapis as a Rock, or a diamond as carbon.
These stones have natural properties, not manmade, but have been processed to achieve the hardness required and/or change or enhance their look. We stand by our sandstone, a stone from natural elements, processed to achieve 5-6 hardness and it is not to be compared with raw sandstone which is too porous and soft for use in jewelry
A gemologist explained it as follow: Sandstone in the Jewelry industry is a sedimentary rock composed of tiny grains of quartz or feldspar. It can be any color, but is most commonly tan, brown, yellow, red, grey or white. The color is usually dependent on the region in which the stone was found. Sandstones are formed by cemented grains of small fragments of pre-existing rock or crystals and are usually bound together by calcite, clays or silica. The sedimentation process occurs when sand grains are bounced along the bottom of a body of water or ground surface, resulting in a pressure compacted mixture. Because sandstone widely varies in its creation, its hardness widely varies as well.
I think that no answer is ever going to satisfy everyone, I appreciate the passion. If anything this has been very educational – I am sure there is no other brand out there that gets so personal and detailed about a component of a watch… I’m happy to do it – if this is not commitment, I don’t know what is.”

Uncle Lalo still didn’t address the lack of discernible depth and that only three “crystal” images are arranged in a repeating pattern. But I suppose the ardent – at this point seemingly moronic – über fans will find this response enough.


UPDATE 09/05/2010: I was able to find out a few more details regarding specifics on the dial. First, the actual thickness of the dial confirms that it is not a slab of sandstone. It is 10 nanometers thick. The thinest that the professor has ever saw sandstone cut is 30 nanometers.

The dial may not even contain natural sand. Looking at it under a microscope reveals that the shiny bits have no dimensionality; not appearing as three dimensional pieces, instead lacking any discriminable depth. Like the difference between a hardwood floor and a laminate. One is the real, three dimensional object that includes the grains. The laminate is a pictorial representation of the same thing.

Also of note is that there are only three distinct shapes that all of the crystalline structures share. In natural sand, the variation approaches the infinite.

These two facts seem to even contradict Eyal Lalo’s statement that actual sand was used in the manufacture of these dials.

THERE is still no explanation from Invicta.

UPDATE 09/01/2010: Invicta CEO Eyal Lalo semingly confirmed that the dials marketed as “Natural Sandstone” are in fact anything but. He posted two statements this morning on
“The ONLY thing that is man-made is the process of bonding the sandstone grain to a brick like raw bar, which then gets sent to our dial factory and gets cut to dials and polished.” He added “I wrote: “bonding the sandstone grain to a brick like raw bar”
The correct wording would be “bonding the sandstone grain INTO a brick like raw bar”. The sandstone garins do NOT get bonded to something else, it just gets bonded ALL TOGETHER.”

In his second statement, he’s admitting the sand is bonded onto a medium and a dial is cut from it. This is NOT natural sandstone! This is a composition mimicing sandstone and he is admiting as much.

The name of the geologist mentioned below has been passed to Jim Skelton for further discussion of his findings; his identity is not being made public at his request.

ON this last day of August, the Invicta Watch Group did not disappoint by offering up the trifecta scandal to end the summer of 2010 that has seen a major debacle every month. This time it is the apparent bogus claim of natural sandstone dials.

THIS investigation was initiated by a member of Watchlords, GEEKNOMO, a disillusioned former member of Watch Geeks who obtained a sample from his model 0050, Invicta II Blue Sandstone with Diamond accents. He believed all along, based on color and a close inspection, that it appeared to be a man-made material. After attempting to burn it he felt that it was actually a type of glass. Upon further research, he settled on the conclusion that it was aventurine glass. While I never doubted his belief that it wasn’t sandstone, I know how Eyal Lalo and Jim Skelton on behalf of ShopNBC, attempt to cause confusion when presented with fact. I personally felt it needed confirmed by an expert.

With help from a fellow member of Watchlords, that is exactly what happened.

The sample was shipped to, and examined by a prominent faculty member of the Colorado School of Mines. He believes that it is a glass matrix with manmade crystals floating in it. He rated the hardness on Mohs scale at about 5.5: consistent with glass. Unfortunately, the schools directors have a policy that prohibits any documentation to accompany this finding but they routinely examine samples of materials provided by the public, but the Doctor who examined the sample is an expert with nearly 30 years in the field of geology.

IT was just a few days ago that Eyal Lalo responded on a question and answer Watchgeek thread that the dials are “Natural“. One is reminded of Mr. Lalo’s supposed “loud talks” with Dubois Depraz, a company that did not have any business relationship with IWG and Swiss labeled watches as being entirely Swiss made, another untruth revealed as Watchgeeks popped the backs off of their “Swiss” made watches to reveal movements stamped “Far East Assembly” as well as the revelation of fake diamonds on the Classique womans watches marketed by both ShopNBC and Invicta.

WILL this revelation prompt someone to have a meteorite dial examined to determine if it is genuine? Are the diamonds on the bezel of the 0050 model real diamonds or crystals?

Check back for more updates as this story unfolds.

Dead Pool

March 23, 2010

The Jim Skelton Dead Pool continues as more interesting developments have taken place over the last few days that further contrast the apparent behind the scenes issues at ShopNBC

Daniel Green took an apparent swipe at Skelton about 53 minutes into the final hour of his Invicta stump while he sat opposite Michael Davis. Mr. Davis talked about the ability to dress up the Russian Diver being offered – describing it with Daniel Green’s suit. He then went on to talk about pairing it with a Polo shirt and jeans to dress it down. Daniel Green interjected: “Black velvet, felt shirt – ha, sorry, if you just joined me, I’m being… naughty…” To which Michael Davis replied after a pause, “No comment.” Precisely the hideous Vince Vaughn cast away that Skeltbo was wearing during his last show.

Stranger yet is Shawn Wilsie terminating his affiliation with both on his presentation and his Facebook page. Skelton’s response implied that Wilsie was trying to be a “martyr” and seeking attention.

I’ve speculated for quite sometime that the production staff had no love for In Cognito. Apparently his fellow hosts don’t either.