Let me first say that I absolutely know that this opinion is going to be extremely controversial to a very specific group within a group of watch collectors. A large portion of you who are reading this may even disagree. This might even come across as argumentative, but that’s okay. Just hear me out because I know that I’m not the only person in the world who feels this way. Since there isn’t a huge watch enthusiast community in my particular part of the United States and I don’t have a lot of opportunities to bounce these thoughts off of collectors in the flesh, I do it here. That being said, YouTube is quickly becoming an affordable watch collector echo chamber.
I’ve been wanting to get that thought down on paper for a while, but I just couldn’t figure out a way to do it without coming across as confrontational, so I put it off because I love this community. Actually, I’ve been wanting to write this since before I even got this site up and running, but after watching the umpteenth affordable watch channel livestream this month, I decided that I couldn’t put it off anymore. No, I don’t have to watch these and no, no one is making me, but I’ve noticed that I’m watching this stuff for a different reason than I used to – research.
Aside from the handful of channels on YouTube that transcend your typical watch reviewer (you know who I’m talking about), a lot of these channels are very similar. They range in production value, but they’re all pretty much the same. You’ve probably noticed that the topics typically range from anything about Casio to microbrands being for watch enthusiasts to watches being high quality, yet affordable. Yes, there is some diversity of topics, but imagine the same twenty YouTubers talking about the same aspects of the same watches over and over and over. Before you even think it, yes, I can see how these appear to be the ramblings of some jaded watch collector who has made too many bad decisions based on watch reviewer influence, but I assure you that I came to this epiphany organically, and this is in no way my attempt to throw stones. If in the odd chance that one of these perpetrators comes across this and feels targeted, that sounds like a personal problem and I probably am talking about you.
There is some really high quality content out there, but you only know it once you’ve discovered it for yourself. If it was recommended by a friend or another creator, the chance of the content existing in the same echo chamber as everyone else on your subscription list is just too high. Now I’m not naïve enough to think that watch “reviewers” are the biggest part of the problem. They are only a symptom of a much bigger issue. That issue is a need to feel relevant. If you are relevant, you get free stuff. If you get free stuff, you have more to talk about. If you have more to talk about, you STAY relevant. It all comes back to that.
Disclaimer: I have no idea how YouTube monetization works. I don’t know how to create a shop. I don’t even know what the natural progression of a YouTube based business is. But let me know if any of this sounds familiar.
Once you’re relevant you start an Amazon list for your viewers. After that you start having guests on your channel. After that you start manufacturing straps or watch rolls or some other low quality or overpriced merchandise that has your logo on it. Then after you’ve started making a little money you start a Limited Liability Company and start your own microbrand or God forbid, become an authorized dealer. You’re a shadow of your former self. Your opinion no longer has any validity because it brings in revenue. You’re no longer a trusted member of the community that gave you this celebrity. The point of this blog is not to dictate what other people do with their money, their channel, their time, or their business, but can we at least agree that the evolution of the watch community on YouTube is predictable as hell? I don’t see anyone talking about their favorite donut shops in the US and then creating their own chain of donut shops. The progression of someone talking about watches online to making money on selling watch related merchandise seems to move at an incredible pace.
Since everyone wants to be a famous internet personality now, they’re willing to talk about anything that will keep those views and “likes” coming as fast as possible, and when that stops being enough you start a business. The watch enthusiast community may be small in comparison to sports or the film industry, but the community isn’t any less involved. We all want to be part of the conversation. This blog for example, is MY way of contributing to that conversation. I’m guilty, too. However, I’d like to think that my insights are a little more nuanced than “microbrands are awesome” and “nobody actually needs a Rolex”. But that’s kind of the problem, right? We all think that we’re special. We aren’t. We aren’t special until we are. I believe as an influencer or creator it should be your goal to bring something new to the hobby, not just repeat the same drivel that we’ve heard a hundred times before. Is there anything interesting about hearing the same voices that we’ve been hearing for so long agree on everything? No. At least, I am not entertained by that. That actually brings me to my last point.
The type of watch content that I consume has changed over time. The reason that I consume it has changed too. I no longer rely on it to teach me something or keep me in the loop. I turn it on in the background. It’s common interest white noise now. At best, it’s just another form of entertainment that keeps my home office from being too quiet while I work. Once that’s happened, I no longer have the same level of interest in the creator, and it’s a chain reaction. I know that I’ve found something special when I stop working for a moment and actually listen to what I’m hearing. My advice is for you to find something that does that for you. I realize that everything that can be said about a watch has been said. It is a very heartbreaking truth. These creators have their work cut out for them and I applaud their resilience at attempting to stay relevant, but I just don’t think that it’ll last forever. I don’t really see an end in sight right this second, but it’s coming. They’re going to have to evolve or risk falling by the wayside.
All that I’m really trying to say is that we need to be more picky about the content that we consume. If we’re willing to just consume for the sake of consumption then we’re doomed to be disappointed just like content creators are doomed to fail if they aren’t willing to be honest with us and critical of each other. Stop rewarding laziness and conformity. Stop being complacent because particular content scratches your watch itch at best and is just more watch content at worst.