For three days in October,  aBlogtoWatch presented Rich Park’s Virtual MicroLux 2020 event, which was the pandemic’s answer to what was supposed to be the in-person LA MicroLux 2020 watch show. aBlogtoWatch was the media partner of LA MicroLux for its first Los Angeles event and subsequent Chicago event. When it became clear that, for 2020, there couldn’t be an in-person watch event, MicroLux’s Mr. Park called upon us to propose a live digital solution. To make a long story short, I think it went really well.

I co-hosted Virtual MicroLux, which means I spent a lot of time at our special studio setup here in Los Angeles — with watches as watch brand founders called in for conversations. I had no idea how well it would replace the sensation of actually speaking to the brands’ people for much of the audience. I’m actually quite thrilled that we were able to take out much of the “virtual” part of the experience. If anything, we transformed the concept of what many virtual presentations are into what I feel was a vicarious conversation with watch brands and an examination of some of their latest products.

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Nothing can replace actually touching and feeling a new watch in your own hands. Don’t let anyone tell you that a virtual experience can replace that. That said, I don’t think you need to physically see a new watch or brand in order to get excited about it. aBlogtoWatch’s enduring mission is to deliver watch lovers the “next best thing to seeing a watch in person.” I believe, in a lot of ways for 2020, Virtual MicroLux satisfied that. And now we have a lot more brands eager for the same type of connection to the community.

This also helps me answer one of the more important questions about MicroLux: Why aren’t more of the major brands doing stuff like this? The entrepreneur-run, smaller, independent brands also happen to be a bit more open-minded. Many of them do most of their business online as it is, so the idea of seriously participating in virtual events just doesn’t register with many of the established brands as “something you do.” (It isn’t just about money, but more about investing in making the experience positive for the consumer as opposed to just their sales staff.)  I think how well the aBlogtoWatch team (under the capable aegis of our Video Producer Ed Rhee) produced Virtual MicroLux demonstrated to a lot of the more conservative brands just how “normal” a virtual presentation can be — that is if you forget much of what many people think of when they join awkward Zoom meetings. As is the case with most parties, the quality of the experience comes down to the professionalism of the hosts.

Being live (not pre-recorded) gave aBlogtoWatch some interesting technical challenges to produce an event with the complicated on-screen graphics we were able to provide. For all intents and purposes, aBlogtoWatch set up a basic live talk show-style set, complete with enough equipment to fill two rooms (and then some). I really wanted 2020 to be a time when you could pull something like this off with a few lights and smartphones, but we certainly aren’t there yet. This is where a lot of aBlogtoWatch’s detailed experience with photography and video creation really came in handy. Pulling off Virtual MicroLux required an entirely different set of skills, as opposed to covering a live in-person event. I’m extremely proud of the entire team plus the crew for the amazing results. It paid off in the comments (as they say)!

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If you missed Virtual MicroLux 2020, you can view all three days of the show in the YouTube playlist above. There is one long video per day, and in the descriptions, you can see timestamps for when various brand presentations come on. I want to take this opportunity to once again thank Virtual MicroLux 2020 sponsors eBay, Bhindi Jewelers, and Breitling, as well as the brands that were featured during the show:

Now, just a few words from Rich Park of LA MicroLux, who would like to say a bit more about the event:

Given the pandemic, the watch world changed overnight. Like most watch enthusiasts, I found myself frustrated with the lack of new watch content — particularly the new releases we expect each year from Baselworld. As the organizer of the MicroLux watch events, I felt I had both the ability and responsibility to provide both brands and fans a shared opportunity for a virtual event.

For months, the MicroLux team carefully followed the news and spoke with public health officials about our goal of holding another in-person watch event in Los Angeles. With safety in mind, there was no way our busy in-person events could take place this year. But the show must go on! Embracing modern technology, Virtual MicroLux (VML for short) was born.  It was very important that  VML not be another Zoom presentation. As people from all over the world would tune in, we strived for a top-level Hollywood-based production. As soon as we announced VML, we were inundated with requests from both brands and watch fans to participate. This year, MicroLux  would attract its biggest brand: Breitling. From some of the smallest boutique brands to some of the most well-known brands in the world, VML had something for everyone. I also hoped MicroLux would grow to this level, and I am thrilled it has happened a few years earlier than I expected.

Based on feedback and engagement from brands and fans, VML has exceeded all expectations. Watch fans from all over the world were able to meet founders and ambassadors from more than two dozen brands. They were able to share the backstory and inspiration behind their brands and watches. Several new watches were introduced. As both the founder of VML and a passionate watch enthusiast myself, I am so honored to have the support and participation of these great brands as well as several thousand watch fans. I am grateful to my friends in the watch industry who supported my vision for VML from the outset. On a personal level, some of the highlights were the new releases by Linde Werdelin, Norqain, Formex, and meeting the Canadian brand Marathon for the first time. I was like any other watch fanatic getting to know the faces and products behind Marathon Watches. That feeling of euphoria is what watch events are all about and I believe we brought the next best thing to in-person watch events.  A huge thank you to the viewers, brand participants, and my media partner Ariel Adams from aBlogtoWatch for making this possible — and hosting this amazing event on their YouTube platform. We look forward to future events, hopefully in person.   But until that day comes, please know that VML will be here for both fans and brands alike.


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