Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Things Were Great, Until They Weren't - Klokers

Courtesy of Klokers
News reached the North Shore offices of Tempus Fugit that Klokers has ceased operations as of yesterday - July 2, 2019.  

This announcement was sent from Klokers HQ:

Dear Partner,

You have been supported klokers for the past 5 years and we would like to thank you warmly.

We are proud of the innovative watches we have created for passionate Time Travelers. Your contribution helped us to develop the whole concept and the brand.

We owe you transparency and therefore we inform you that klokers has been through major difficulties. 

We have done our best over the last few months to allow this fantastic adventure to keep going but we are sorry to inform you about the ceasing of the activity as of July 2nd, 2019.

It has been a pleasure working with you,

Best regards
The klokers team

And their Facebook page reported this:

We are sorry to inform you that the klokers adventure has come to its end.
Many of you have been following us and adopted the klokers’ attitude and we are proud of it.
If you are the owner of a klokers and need information about your KLOK-01 or KLOK-08, please refer to our instructions on

We would like to warmly thank you for your support over the past 5 years and wish your watch may live at your wrist as long as possible.

Now I have to be honest, this is a tough one for me to get my head around.  I was first contacted by the Klokers folks in July/August of 2015 - nearly 4 years ago now.  It was a charming concept and a fun story.  The person in charge of communications - Mady Jay, was super to work with, really listened and did her level best to make sure that everyone was included.

The first Kickstarter raised a shit-ton of money, per Kickstarter:
1,563 backers pledged €605,898 to help bring this project to life.

I received one of the first models and was quite taken with it.  Now in the background, there were some rumblings.  Several backers had to wait fairly long periods to get their watches. And in fairness, these things can happen.  But then that dangerous friend that is fame started to rear its ugly head.  And a definite "status stratification" began to emerge for those of us who write about watches.  Some of us who were "so important" to the initial launch suddenly found ourselves at the end of the conga line, while the big dogs suddenly were interested in covering Klokers, and the rest of us were made to feel like the person who brought an attractive date to the prom, only to see that attractive date leave with someone they felt was more attractive than us ; )

Fast forward a few years and the second Kickstarter was an even bigger success, and point of full-disclosure I was offered an "exclusive" to announce it, per Kickstarter-

2,046 backers pledged €463,432 to help bring this project to life.

So over the course of two Kickstarters and 2 years, Klokers had managed to raise over a million Euros.  And it didn't stop there, because, of course, there were sales through retail partners.  And that was where the second problem arose.  While I can't speak to the global distribution set up, I can say that here in the US there was a fairly pronounced sense of indifference from the company handling it.  Klokers were shoved in some fairly unlikely (yet mass) online stores.  This led to the watches being surrounded by, well, a lot of junk that was being deeply discounted by some less-than-ambitious retailers.  It didn't help that Klokers was then showing up on grey market "dumping ground" sites with significant discounts while original backers were still waiting for their original Kickstarter purchase.

Over the last few years I lost track of things with Klokers, but noticed that they were not at BaselWorld this past year - or if they were, it was a well-kept secret.

So that brings us to now.

In fairness, in the big scheme of things a million dollars is a good sum of money, and if it is managed carefully and everyone is living within their means?  It might be enough to sustain a company, create products and move forward.  And keep in mind, that was just the money from the Kickstarter.  I have no doubt that there were investors before the Kickstarter, after the Kickstarter and even up until very recently.  And what the story of Klokers along with that of Kronaby and other former darlings of the industry have shown us, is that fame and buzz are no substitute for real sales and practicality. You can't take a baby and turn it into a teenager overnight.  Things take time to develop, and watch brands are no different.  

I am truly sorry that Klokers didn't make it further, and no doubt there are some potential investors chewing over the potential of getting involved.  But for now, it would seem that Elvis has left the building.

It seems that the Klokers site is still up and operational, and it could be that if Klokers has gone to "administration" that the goal is to sell off remaining stock.  And you never know, there might be someone out there with deep pockets who "fancies a flutter", and will sink some cash in to buy the assets.  We shall see.

I will leave it to that other great commentator on the watch industry (George C. Scott as General Patton) to close -

"For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph - a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from the conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children, robed in white, stood with him in the chariot, or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown, and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting."

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