Monday, April 17, 2017

Journalism Devoted To Watches

First of all, there's the Watch Snob. Or should I say first, last and everything in between? I'm new at this, I've been really looking for quality horological journalism for a matter of mere months, and I certainly hope there are are worlds of quality writing about watches as yet unimagined by me, but at the present time, the Watch Snob is the only writer about watches I feel I can trust, because he's the only one -- the only one! -- who writes openly negative things about watches he doesn't like. The only one who has openly negative headlines on some of his columns.

Everybody else I've encountered so far -- everybody! -- seems to me like a more or less obvious part of the advertising branch of the watch industry. Websites such as WatchTime and Hodinkee are interesting, but I can't recall a single article on either site which was even faintly negative, overall, about any watch. And those two sites are interesting in part because they're not nearly as obvious about it as a lot of other sites claiming to be magazines. All of these sites have big, expensive-looking ads on them, and it seems that they are competing for watchmakers' ad revenue by flattering them, as opposed to giving the reader some usefully unfiltered opinions.

I don't agree with the Watch Snob about everything -- if when I get rich I'm going to get the watches I want to have, and not spoil my own enjoyment by worrying about whether the Watch Snob approves or rolls his eyes or openly ridicules me or whatever -- and he actually is quite a snob in general, not just about watches, and that certainly is a bore -- but unless I'm drastically mistaken, he is actually quite honest and unabashedly frank in his columns, and that is a service to the reader. For just one example, in his latest column, a report from Baselworld 2017, he states that Cartier, which has been making jewelry for a long time and watches for a short time, is "still struggling" to gain credibility as a watchmaker.

Up until I read that column today, I was under the impression -- the surprising impression, to me -- that Cartier had been generally accepted as one of the world's finest watchmakers, because up until today, that had been the tone of absolutely everything I had read about their watches from absolutely everyone whom I suspected of possibly being some sort of expert. Thank you, Watch Snob!

Besides what we generally think of as journalists (including bloggers), there is one major online source of information about watches, and it is a source which is in no way lacking in negative reactions to this or that watch. I'm talking about online forums where watch enthusiasts gather to talk about watches. The biggest such gathering place of which I currently know is at the website Watchuseek. But I'm not sure what to make of the information I get from such forums. A lot of the participants there seem to be biased in favor of a particular brand or model which they happen to own -- I've been guilty of the very same sort of biased writing on this very blog. By the way, this is my Seiko 5:

There are many like it, but this one is mine -- or against some brand with which they seem to have had some completely atypical bad luck: for example, they may have owned a particular model which kept terrible time and broke down very soon after they got it, when the model in general is famous for its precision and reliability.

I hear that in some such cases, the person writing about such bad experience actually has had no such experience with the brand or model in question, but happens to own a store which sells a brand or model which competes in the marketplace which the one they're denigrating. I hear that in some cases, manufacturers actually encourage their employees go online and slander the competition.

I repeat: I HEAR such things, I have no idea how often they actually happen.

Maybe if I spent a huge amount of time in such forums, I would gradually get a sense for which of the participants was knowledgeable and frank, and start to be able to sift the signal from the noise. Maybe. It seems like a huge investment to make, for a questionable possibility of an eventual payoff of unknown proportions.

In the meantime, other then the Watch Snob, where are the honest horological writers at the world's magazines and newspapers? Are there any? Does the Watch Snob publish under a pseudonym because the entire watch industry would snub him if they knew who he was, making it difficult or impossible for him to do his job?

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