Monday, February 24, 2020

A Belly Full

It is, I guess, a bit ironic that as Tempus Fugit approaches its tenth anniversary, I am struggling with the idea of keeping it going.  

I think it might be useful to share why I started this whole thing.  I had worked for DOXA for the three years previous to the launch of Tempus Fugit.  I was still an extreme watch fan, and if I am honest, I was pretty put-off with the discussion forums that were so popular at the time.  I was also laboring under a delusion that what you read in the watch media was accurate and honest.  It wasn't then, and it isn't now.  When Tempus Fugit started I had a starry-eyed idea of creating a Sartorialist type website for watches.  I was positive, believing, and honestly?  Easily persuaded.

The simple truth is this - the watch brands would be more honest if they sent you all a check for reading the press releases that come to you filtered through the major outlets.  But they don't.  And while the checks used to come to the major outlets, that has begun to dry up as well.  And now the outlets are struggling for oxygen - and that oxygen is the funding that helps to help keep them alive.  The former enthusiasts have now become business owners.  


I want to say something very, very clearly - I do not criticize any outlets for making money.  But, I do not equate alleged readership numbers (frequently juked) with actual factual content or quality.  It is a broken system, and in all honesty?  There was no other way that this could have gone once people started imagining not having to work a nine-to-five any more.

Do you ever wonder why every big outlet is frequently putting out exactly the same thing on the same day?  Not me.

Some inside baseball - watch brands (both big and small) flush an insane amount of money down the toilet in the hope of getting one of the big (or even not-so-big) outlets to write about them.  Nomos sent me an invite to Germany this past Summer and confirmed it... before cancelling it at the last minute.  Why?  My hunch is this, my email: henkitime@... has led more than one not-so-diligent watch PR person in the past to not read so closely, and assume that I was with a well-known outlet that starts with an "H".  Ironically enough, Nomos did not see the groundswell of influence that 3 round-trip business class tickets on Lufthansa from the US and accommodation might have been expected to pay for.  And the most ironic thing in the entire sad saga?  Nomos was the very first brand I had written about 9+ years ago, and I was one of (you could count the number on not just one hand, but three fingers) journalists who came out to support their stance against racism and support of immigration tolerance. Yes Nomos, me.  

PS: Nomos - you're welcome.

Would I have really enjoyed visiting Glashutte?  Absolutely.  But it made one thing very, very clear to me - watch media has degenerated into Kabuki theatre of the disingenuous.

So, let's cut to the heart of it.  While I often say that I am my own favorite watch writer, I would point to two people out there who are truly offering something you should, dare I say it, you must be reading if you really, actually care about watches beyond what a brand is paying you to be interested in.   

Adam Sofineti is the man behind Watch Paper -   He is one of the few people that clearly loves watches, history, and sharing that passion without his hand in a brand's pocket.  I wish I were as detailed, driven and, well,  passionate.  In many ways, Adam is the writer I would like to be, and who when I have the time, and the muse speaks to me, I hope to emulate.

Gregory Pons I have been accused of two things that actually flatter me - trying to be the Tony Bourdain of watch writing, and trying to be the English language equivalent of Gregory Pons.  Both accusations flatter me, because I am in both men's shadows.

It says something about a true critic that watch brands still pay for advertising, and people actually PAY to read what you have to say when you are not, let's say, kissing the ring.  

I lead a dual life in the watch industry.  Yes, I write this little bloggy-wog, and am in the second tier of the watch media.  But I also work on the brand side, and as such I get to see behind the curtain where the "wizard" lives.  I cannot tell you how many times when visiting Swiss brands where I have seen Business Montres on the screens of the sales, pr and marketing teams.  That says something.  Business Montres has, in many ways, become the Harvard Business Review of the watch industry.  

So, if you want an actual opinion that hasn't been purchased, or leased?  Please continue reading Tempus Fugit, Watch Paper and Business Montres.

And so that there are no misunderstandings?  There are a few brands out there that I will NEVER be able to be completely objective about owing to friendships, relationships, and in some instances brands that I represent.  

You can rest assured - if there is a relationship, it will be disclosed.  I will be honest with you.  At a very base level, that seems only fair.

Be well and enjoy your watches.

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