It's been quite a while since the last Bring a Brain instalment. Since then, one most interesting development took place - a rant-worthy development, of course - but more on that later. Without further ado: lads and lasses, this is your Bring a Brain!
First, obviously, we'll have a look at some vintage watches.
First, this Tudor Advisor:
"The alarm [...] is currently off by about an hour." Honesty much appreciated, however selling a watch with a technical defect leaves a rather bad taste in the mouth.
Also, I seriously doubt the lume is tritium. Tritium-dialed Advisors had the appropriate "T" markings. While 1964 is late for radium, it was still being used. And given that Advisors featured radium dials alright (the 7926 was introduced in 1957, if my memory serves me well), it is fairly safe to assume that this particular specimen is one of them. That said, lume incorrectly identified.
Now, this IWC cal. 89:
The hand colour doesn't quite match that of the markers. Not necessarily is it a definitive proof of a swap having taken place, but it does seem somewhat incriminating. However, what has me much more surprised, is that the estimated period of manufacture is off by a decade.
The Ranfft archive estimates a cal.89 specimen with a higher serial to have been made circa 1950:
bidfun-db Archive: Watch Movements: IWC 89
...and I trust the good Doctor's archive far more than Hodinkee's "experts."
Besides, just looking at the design of the watch, it's anything but 1960s in appearance.
Let's move on to this Enicar:
"Screw-in back?" Nope. It's a bayonet back, I've said it many times, as that's the nth time they confuse the EPSA bayonet back with a screw-in one. They never learn, do they?
Also, with this one, it's back to their old ways with no movement/case back pictures.
Neither did they bother to identify the movement.
Now, let's move on to the most unsavoury development of the year - as of recently, Hoodwinkee became an authorized retailer of a few watch brands.
On one hand, if they'd be selling contemporary stuff only, it wouldn't be so bad, as the vintage market doesn't need them, and the likes of them. But in terms of ethics in journalism, this is unacceptable. I mean, you cannot really expect them to write an honest review of a watch by a brand they have an ongoing partnership with? While with the limited editions it was already unethical as hell, now it's worse. It's rant-worthy like it rarely was before. Let the rant commence! The game's afoot; follow your spirit, and upon this charge...
The news have been announced in a lengthy editorial, which in terms of the way it's written suggests, that the site should get another name. Like, Chas-Pravda, Komsomolskiy Chas, or anything which makes one hum "Soyuuuuz neeerushimyi riespublik svabodnyh splatila na vyeki vyelikaya Ruuuuus!"
Quite the same level of obvious propaganda drivel being shoved up the people's heads. The propaganda department and the Politburo would be proud.
I have taken the liberty of ridiculing the most juicy drivel from the entire piece.
"Since we re-launched our vintage watch platform, we've sold hundreds of great vintage watches to new fans all over the world and increased both transparency and customer service, with cash-back return periods and free overnight insured shipping."
Ummm, how about no? How about: these watches were anything but great? And, what transparency? What service, with all the redials and frankenwatches?! The unserviced rubbish, the rust?!
"And while I started HODINKEE out of a pure love of watches and the act of storytelling, we've grown up quite a bit. Never did I think this little site would become a business, but when life gives you an opportunity to do something special, it's a mistake to not pursue it."
Storytelling... Well, if this is a way of addressing all the lies and obvious misinformation, it's still euphemistic, as it beats Andersen and the Brothers Grimm by an entire level.
"Special" is not quite the word I'd use. I mean, it is uncommon, but "special" sounds somewhat positive, which is very much out of place here.
Also, taking an opportunity and being an opportunist are notions miles apart from each other.
"We know how much our editorial coverage means to you, and you can be sure that nothing will change. We will continue to write about things we like and ignore the rest, just as we always have. And those fantastic editors that you love so much will never be told to write (or not write) anything at all, just as it is today. In fact, we hope that the move we are announcing today will actually increase transparency about our relationships with watch brands and other players in the industry. You know who we work with, you know who we don't – it's up to you to decide what to read, but we've found that the vast majority of our readership simply loves the content that we produce. If you're a fan of great writing, great photography, and great videos, get ready for some special things coming your way very soon"
Ummm, whaaaat? It's a little bit like saying "it will be foggy, but this means that the visibility will be much better." Well, if you really want to crash against the rocks, maybe. But please, have the decency not to steer the others towards said rocks.
This is pretty much where the lies become obvious. While previously the main concern was the credibility of reviews in the context of occasional collaborations, here we're supposed to believe, that they will actually be honest when writing reviews and coverage of brands that they have an active partnership with? Come on.
Their writing had credibility issues (and dear me, am I being euphemistic here!) for a long time already, but this time, it's an overt switch to advertorials, and they have the audacity, the gall to claim that there's any credibility to their content? Awww, by Jove!
I haven't read something quite as self-serving in quite a while.
For years, we've been propositioned by brands and retailers to become an affiliate of their online stores – the money was good, but we declined. We did so because we've always believed in doing things the right way, and until recently, we weren't sure we could deliver on something we would feel comfortable putting out there to the many thousands of watch lovers that now depend on HODINKEE.
All the lies, all the hype, all the ulterior motive for years, and now they honestly expect us to actually believe, that they thought it to be the right way? Also, it seems like they were comfortable with what they were doing so far, and what they're doing now. I, for one, wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror and say "I'm a good person" if I did as much as a fraction of what they did.
Then again, it's the Chas-Pravda, and all papers called Pravda have the unfortunate habit of expecting the people to believe (and making them believe) the most audacious and thinly veiled of lies.
We were told that after reading HODINKEE, few watch salespeople could even hold a conversation with these customers about the latest releases.
Given the level of knowledge presented by H, this speaks particularly ill of said salespeople.
Here's the thing about watches today: a lot of 'em kinda suck. And we know that. That's why over on the editorial side of HODINKEE, you just see stories about the good ones. Why waste your time (and our own) covering things that simply aren't worthy of coverage?
Why? Why? Let me think- because journalism isn't about just telling people the good news, and skipping all the bad? For the sake of honesty, of warning people against all the rubbish out there? This might just be the poorest justification for focusing on praise only, and being oblivious to everything else, that I’ve ever heard. Then again, being selectively oblivious can be expected of ones who sell their souls. Besides, dismissing the rubbish as not worthy of coverage is only a tell-tale sign of complete and utter ignorance. If it’s rubbish, that’s precisely why people need to know about it! Again, they fail to steer the people away from the rocks.
We've seen that the watch world is not invincible, so let's make sure we push each other to make the whole industry more inviting, friendly, and enjoyable. I don't think anyone can argue with that.
Oh, I can argue with that. Mainly because they’re not making the push in the right direction. How does becoming an advertorial site making the industry inviting, friendly, or enjoyable?
A site doing vintage watch coverage, mostly with the intention of creating hype, becomes even more ridden with ulterior motive upon teaming up with the manufacturers. That’s because killing the market for vintage watches is the manufacturers’ game. They welcome the popularity of their vintage watches, but the accessibility of them doesn’t sit well with the manufacturer. So it’s very much in their interest to drive the vintage watches out of the average collector’s reach, and to drive the collector right into their welcoming arms, because they just happen to have a re-issue or a modern ersatz to offer.
Henceforth, I won’t call them a blog, or a news outlet. I will refer to them as an advertorial site, because that’s what it is. An advertorial site.
That's all for this instalment of Bring a Brain – hope you have enjoyed it.
As always, Bring a Brain will return if necessary!