Monday, November 13, 2017

An Open Letter to the Watch Industry and Media

With their announcement today, Hodinkee officially declared that they were, in fact, in the watch retail business.  And this brings full circle what many retailers, journalists, writers and brand managers had felt was in the works since Hodinkee began its limited edition partnerships with certain brands.  


On the one hand, this new partnership helps brands present their watches in a decidedly positive light if they are being sold through Hodinkee's online store.

On the other hand, it raises an important question when considering where a journalistic endeavor, the marketing efforts of a brand, and a retail enterprise all intersect.  If a news outlet is selling the same products it is covering in an editorial manner, can it still be considered objective?  To be clear, I am simply asking the question, not making a judgment.

For my own part, I feel that an outlet has to make their own decisions as to how they choose to operate.  Hence, Tempus Fugit has turned down more than a few offers - and that is why I am a very content social worker with a handful of watch clients (that don't get written about on Tempus Fugit) who sleeps particularly well at night.

And on the other hand, maybe this is the next evolution.  But (and no offense to Hodinkee) I hope not.  My personal feeling is that there needs to be a distinction between the three branches of watch "government":  Brand, Retailer, and Journalist.  When the lines get blurred, it gets hard to distinguish.

But the one thing that is constant?  Change.  Let's see where this one takes us.

In the meantime, enjoy your watches.


  1. It's good to see healthy discussions such as this because nothing changes or happens without people first talking about it. When it comes to the topic at hand, you'll agree that first, no one is really running the watch industry so there isn't anyone to set and standards of any kind. Second, that the Swiss watch industry has a very strained relationship with what watch-media should be. What you ask requires personal discipline and persistence. As you pointed out, the natural pressure from watch brands and media is for media to simply be another sales arm. Keep up the good work.

  2. We have been shouting about it for years let alone talking about it!!! Linking a journalist's status to sell products is like asking CNN anchors to sell shoes and dresses. Not only from an ethical point of you which I do agree with James Henderson when he highlights it, but what would happen to the local retailers in this website's market region?! How would such "partners" who've been there for ages feel about such intrusion?! The watch industry already suffered during the past 3 years because of "grey market" e-commerce with massive discounts offered; now it continues but with another type of activity, using a medium that writes about watches. It takes a big courage for someone to right the wrong, which I'm afraid could go even more wrong...Solution? We announced a global initiative to support brand-retailer partnerships in our watch magazine. Let's see if someone will listen.