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The Story Behind Watches.com

The Story Behind Watches.com Featured Articles

You may have not noticed, but until recently there was no website called Watches.com. As of a few days ago, Watches.com is real, and it is what Watchismo.com has turned into. I’d like to take this opportunity to share a little bit of the story behind watches.com, as well as about brothers Mitch and Andrew Greenblatt who will be taking care of it.

To a degree, the Greenblatt brothers know that owning and operating “watches.com” is a bit of a responsibility. It is probably the most “on-point” domain name related to the world of watches, and to an extent will represent the online side of the watch industry to much of the general public who is unfamiliar with the world of Internet watch media, retail, and consumer communities.

The Story Behind Watches.com Featured Articles

More on watches.com shortly, but the main thing people need to know is that what was watchismo.com is now watches.com. The “Watchismo” name – which was created by Mitch Greenblatt in the 1990s – is being temporarily retired, to be saved for a later time. The brothers, eager to encourage even more mainstream adoption of their business, felt that watches.com simply commanded more gravity and credibility with consumers than Watchismo – though the Watchismo name will likely live on in the future. But who is Watchismo?

While Andrew and Mitch Greenblatt currently work together out of Danville, California, it was brother Mitch who began it all. In 1998, he began the Watchismo name by buying and selling mostly “interesting” vintages watch on eBay. Much more so than today, the internet was a “Wild West” back then, especially when it came to the watch world. In 1999, Vogue happened upon Mitch’s eBay business and was interested by the many unique timepieces he was selling. You see, unlike much of today’s interest in vintage watches, Mitch Greenblatt was almost exclusively into more unique-looking watches that are exotic (and, to some people, weird). For him, it wasn’t about price or provenance, but rather about how interesting the watch was. Mitch was then, as he is now, more or less bored by the “traditional” vintage watches out there which are so ubiquitous and often uninspired.

The Story Behind Watches.com Featured Articles

Original Watchismo logo from 1999

Vogue wanted to write about Mitch’s business selling interesting vintage timepieces, but said that he needed a website. He quickly managed to put one together, which was the birth of watchismo.com in 1999. With that said, watchismo.com didn’t really become that big of a deal until a few years later.

The Story Behind Watches.com Featured Articles

Watchismo website with 2004 logo

My own personal experience with Mitch Greenblatt is important in the development of aBlogtoWatch.com because before I started a blog about watches, I was reading Mitch’s blog about watches via the Watchismo Blogspot website. According to Mitch, he started the blog after a 2006 video that the website Cool Hunting did with him. I personally felt an immediate connection to Mitch’s work specifically because he only spent his time writing about (mostly new) interesting watches. It was around then that brands like MB&F were getting started, and Mitch was lucky to be covering an industry that was experiencing a real boom of high-end independent watchmakers who came to the traditional horological table with a lot of original ideas. I can easily say that Watchismo’s blog was an early inspiration for aBlogtoWatch.

The Story Behind Watches.com Featured Articles

Watchismo logo from 2007

In 2007, Watchismo.com relaunched as an e-commerce site selling mostly new watches. Today, it remains a very special place to buy less-than-common timepieces. With an average price point of only $250, Watchismo was never about catering to just the high end, as many other retailers do. Instead, Watchismo was about catering to the very realistic budget of most people and looking around the globe for brands and models that would fit well into the site’s roster of brands that they were an official authorized dealer of – often times, the only ones online.

The watch industry could learn a lot from Watchismo.com. The company, for example, will not accept new brands that have a presence on the gray market. The gray or “secondary” market for timepieces has created an untenable culture of discounting and forced price increases that has resulted in no dignified watch consumer ever willing to pay retail prices for a timepiece. If there is one major issues facing the watch industry today, it is that most things related to prices are utterly out of control.

The Story Behind Watches.com Featured Articles

The Watchismo Times blog logo from 2007

Watchismo has the good fortune, and the discipline to not play by the traditional watch industry’s rules. The Greenblatts aren’t shy to paint the Swiss watch industry as “not open-minded,” and if you look on their site, they offer few Swiss brands, given the Swiss’ unwillingness to ditch archaic business models in favor of the contemporary realities.

Moreover, Watchismo’s success is often due to their focus on finding interesting and individual designs – rather than chasing what they feel is the most popular. I was quick to relate to Mitch when he complained about all the “boring minimalist stuff out there,” and how the company’s customers are “people who want to stand out.” There really isn’t a better way for a guy to do that than with a cool watch.

About the Author

Fueled by an unshakable love for horology and a general curiosity for intricate things, Ariel Adams founded aBlogtoWatch in 2007 as a means of sharing his passion. Since then, ABTW has become the highest trafficked blog on luxury timepieces, and Ariel has become a contributor to other online publications such as Forbes, Departures and Tech Crunch, to name just a few. His conversational writing style and inclusive attitude brings a wider appreciation for watches the world over, and that's just the way he likes it.

Follow me on Google+ Ariel Adams

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Comments

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  • Geoffrey Kuhn

    I’ve always liked how Watchismo offered a very diverse collection to choose from that can range from pretty wacky to the more traditional. It’s important to keep the unique designs around, even if its not always for you.

  • Guadzilla

    Your side comments about the grey market are utter nonsense.

    Basically, you are saying the customers should all be forced to pay more, b/c some retailers have a more inefficient business model and/or because manufacturers are not make volume on their watches at MRP.

    In what planet is the answer to that essentially ‘let’s force customers to pay more’? That’s not how non-monopolistic markets work and you should be embarrassed for even suggesting it, for more than one reason.

    The solution isnt to penalize the customers – the solution is to let the market weed out the manufacturers and retailers that are unable to keep up.

    • Ariel Adams

      That isn’t what I am suggesting and I am sorry if it came across that way. I am saying that MSRP prices are inflated right now, and that because of that the gray market price is the de facto street price. Consumers should spend a reasonable price based on market demand, etc… So what I am saying is two-fold: the gray market should go away because all it really does it further increase retail prices. Second, I am saying that given modern distribution practices, etc… MSRP prices should go down to levels that apply reasonable margins which consumers should feel comfortable paying. The system must change in both of those ways. The gray market exists because discounts are too easy to offer given bloated margins. Reduce the bloat and the consumer can feel much less like they are being gouged at retail prices. I totally agree that if a lower price IS available any wise consumer should go after it.

      • Guadzilla

        Ah ok, I agree with what you are saying then.

        The main issue is that most of the watch makers these days either do not realize or do not accept that becoming a true luxury brand requires a lot of time and effort, in both image-building and also making a product that deserves the luxury tag.

        Whatever you think of them, Omega is making an effort, selling their technology and innovation as a justification for their premiums. What are most of the other watch companies doing? No innovation, but yet another polished case with a price tag that varies by several thousand dollars simply because of the name on the tag. That works up to a certain degree – but not across the industry as a whole. In short – too many pretenders vying for the luxury premium without enough justification.

        IMO, most of the mid-tier manufacturers (and even some of the higher end brands) have expected to continue getting away with their naked emperors – and are failing.

        As for the grey market going away – i think the manufacturers could very well shut it down if they wanted to. How hard is it to figure out who got the serial numbers that are selling on the grey market? But why would they? THEIR margins are not affected, it is the retail channel that is getting squeezed. And the manufacturer gets to signal high price points.

        For quite a few manufacturers, this is deliberate – in other words, a slightly more sophisticated version of the Invicta selling model.

  • cg

    Interesting…. but I chase style and price. The gray market has a purpose and paying less, getting a “deal” is always a thrill while someone else is paying a crazy retail price. I’ll stick with whomever offers the best advantage to me, the consumer.

  • TechUser2011

    Nice selection of watches. It would be great if they could let the user filter by watch size on every search result. Eg. Swiss watches, 39-42mm.

  • SuperStrapper

    Who let them finalise on that logo? The offset ‘pinion’ is bad enough, but setting the hands to a designation that doesn’t exist? That might sound nitpicky, but consider the target audience…

  • WolverBilly

    This is a Christopher Guest movie, right?

  • Michael Kinney

    I guess I’ve been living in a cave, but thanks for turning me on to these guys. What an astounding variety of brands! Let men just swap my Nixon for a Devon and be on my way.

  • “The alternatives were a series of lower quality or gray market dealers
    that would not lend a prestigious facade to the watches.com name in his
    eyes.”

    In other words, he couldn’t get Jomashop to pony up the dough for the domain.

  • Jack Daniels

    I used to check out watchismo pretty regularly, but updates seemed to become rare. Haven’t been there in years.

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