In December of last year while I was reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? for the third time, I was visited by a lifeform from another planet. I was sitting in my captain’s chair and they walked into my living room (like they owned the place), sat cross-legged in front of me and started communicating in a way that I presumed to be telepathy. They told me that I wasn’t using my full potential in my career and that I needed to make a change. I asked what I should be doing instead and they said that I should be sitting at my computer for at least an hour and a half a few times a month to write down my thoughts on the world of watch collecting. Before I was able to ask them to elaborate I was told that it would have to be in addition to working a full time job. I had to take all of my photos for the site with a three year old Google Pixel 3XL and I wasn’t allowed to make any money.
They also said that I would have to have controversial opinions that would undeniably prevent any corporate collaborations, prevent me from being sent products for review, and that if I didn’t get spat on by microbrand dive watch enthusiasts at least once a year that they would come back to cut off something that I’ve become very much attached to. That last thing really got my attention, which is good because I wasn’t really listening and I had to ask them to repeat everything. Either way, I finally knew my true purpose in life. When the being got up to leave I asked for their name. They turned and said, “My name is Connor MacLeod of the clan MacLeod. Michael Corleone asked me to come down here and make sure that you dropped The One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom before you started on a path in which there was no escape”. After hearing that I knew that this was important. I sat down at my computer right away and started word vomiting. I haven’t stopped since. The lining of my stomach looks like a 3D map of Montana.
Yeah, that was a complete lie, but after reading that you now know how I feel every time I do research into a new watch company and read their “About” section. With most new watch companies there is this longwinded story about how the founders were inspired to create a watch brand based on their long relationship with loving horology, watches in general, and adventure. Why can’t anyone just say that they love watches, want to be part of the world of watchmaking, and want to make a little money? Come on, we live in a capitalist society, at least most of us do. Do people open coffee shops because they love coffee? No. They do it because they want to make money and it wouldn’t hurt to be around the one thing that chemically gets you through the day. How could that fail? You’d at least be alert.
It’s All in The Name
And where do they come up with these names? The company names and backstories are usually pretentious or unoriginal, the model names are pretentious or unoriginal, and for some reason that doesn’t bother anybody. Every once in a while I’ll hear someone in the watch journalism community talk about how the name could be better, but the watch is still worth our money. That’s fair. When you’re talking about specs alone that may be true, but are we supposed to reward these companies with our hard earned money just because ten different companies pump out the same watches with the same specs for $300? I think not. I’m definitely guilty of being charmed by these companies in the past, but don’t think for a second that I didn’t know what I was doing. But since I put my money where my mouth is (and don’t complain without any personal experience) I think that I’m a little more than justified in voicing some opinions about this.
Mountains, Ships, Planes
You ever notice that a lot of watch names are inspired by or named after mountains, naval ships, planes, cars, or something else that gives a false sense of heritage to the brand or a particular model? I do. It bugs me. I’m not going to call anybody out and name anything specific because that’s not the kind of blog this is, but you know who you are or you know who I’m talking about. Just stop. There can’t be that many owners out there that are inspired by any more than the desire to be your own boss and make a little green in the process. Watches are freaking cool, yeah, and it would be awesome to be in that world, but stop with the bogus names.
Treat Us Like Adults
Just use a cool name with an honest backstory because it sounds cool and sincere. We respect that kind of transparency. We really don’t need to be sold a line of BS because you think that it’ll help sales. I really doubt that it does. And if it does… consumers are more simple than I thought. Personally, I think that it’s dangerously close to pandering. It’s not offensive, it’s hard to offend me, but come on. Nobody cares that you climbed a mountain when you were studying abroad and saw a light that spoke to you about your true purpose in life. That was just the sun, dude, and I would definitely get your eyes checked – you’re not supposed to stare directly at it like that.
I think that the story behind a company means very little to most people. If we’re talking specifically about the model name of a watch, I find that to be incredibly important to me in my watch collecting journey. The name doesn’t always have to be awesome, that’s tough, but just pick something that separates you from the rest of the community. If the color scheme reminds you of a sunset, call it the “Sunset” or something. I promise you that there aren’t any watches that look like planes. That would look grizzly on your wrist. If you’re not able to pick a cool name, give it a reference number. Look at Seiko, they’ve been doing it for years. I hate that they do that, but at least they own it. Seiko is doing just fine.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the names given to these watches are great, even if they come from the same strategy that I’m very clearly against. Just look at the Vero Crown Point. Yeah, the company’s backstory is cut from the same cloth and the watch is named after a specific area in Portland, Oregon, but “Crown Point” sounds so cool, so I’m giving it a pass. The name is one of the reasons that I like it so much. It definitely played a roll in my justification for buying the watch. So yeah, there are exceptions. This isn’t a universal problem. I just know when it works and when it doesn’t. If you’d like to read a REAL backstory about a heritage watch brand, check out The Graying Area. Tom has a great piece about the birth, the rise, and the quality of Seiko. You might actually learn something. I don’t necessarily share his love for the SKX, but he means well.
How do you feel about these watch names and backstories? Are there any that you love or drive you absolutely crazy?
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