Like some of you, I spend a good deal of time perusing websites for watch information. Be it pricing information, reviews, or just a place that I just learn about new watches, there does not seem to be one place, or even a few places to go where I can find a good collection of information. Added to that, watch manufacturer websites are often a disgrace. Sure they often appear fancy, but after the 4 minutes they take to load, you are presented with confusing Flash screens, animations, and other pointless garbage. Consider yourself lucky if you find watch price information on any of those sites. So if manufacturer websites are often not worth visiting, where do you go?
The available options are blogs (such as ablogtoread.com), forum sites, and watch vendor sites. The problem is that no one of these has all the information you need, or even all the information in a given category. Further still, I don’t even know of a website that has a complete list of all available watch brands. It is possible that this is a tall task, given the fact that there are several hundred watch makers from all over the world. One might compare such a list to car manufacturers, of which there is a much more limited number. Regardless, it seems illogical no one one source can give a list of all the watch manufacturers.
It would be nice to have a one-stop shop, but consider this. It is hard to get everyone to agree, and because watches are not regulated or have one retail channel, it is hard to keep track of them all. Automobiles are highly regulated by government regulations. No car can be sold without being approved for travel on US roads. This makes it easy to know every car being sold, and every car makers. Watches however can be sold online, through any number of retail channels, and can experience extremely limited production quantities. All these factors can make watches very hard to track.
Some watch websites are better than others, but still there is a general lack of cohesion among them. The best you’ll see are watch websites linking to each other, and mention each other’s content. There is no one source for content, nor is there any universal manner of reviewing watch. Which brings up another important point. Watch reviews are plentiful if you know where to look, but getting the right information can be very difficult. I applaud the dedicated individuals who take the time to review watches. For the most part this is a grass roots effort based upon watches that people buy. When reviewing watches, there is no universal way of doing so, nor is there a list of criteria to go over. If you are lucky enough to find a watch review on the watch you want, you are luckier still if the review tells you what you need to know. The closest example of universalized watch reviews are those coming from some of the watch magazines such as WatchTime, InSync, and International Watch. The problem however, is that they review only a handful of watches, which are usually very highly priced, and the review often don’t touch upon the issues which are important to most watch owners. I am as interested as the next person in the minute details of a watch movement’s inner mechanisms, but I don’t want 70% of a watch review discussing it.
The watch review and information alternatives online are sometimes better, sometimes worse. Further still, is the fact that the majority of watches cannot be evaluated by going to a retail store. Most desirable or limited production watches have an extremely limited retail presence. If you are lucky enough to be in a city with a retail distributor of a watch that you’d like to learn more about, you are among the few. This is not helped by the fact that many people still consider watches to be nothing more than jewelry that tells time. This is incorrect on many levels, and watches require more that just a cursory inspection before the decision to purchase is made.
The advent of the internet gave each person the power to learn about watches they would otherwise never come across, but the industry is still in its infancy. Watch retailers and manufactures would be clever to ensure each of their watches participates in reviews and commentary, rather than a highly stylized marketing campaign. Sure Tag Heuer can afford to have celebrities (such as Tiger Woods) endorse their watches, but most other companies need to take other approaches. A good product will sell itself, but people need to first learn it is a good product, and to do that they need to be educated about it.
So if you want information on watches you are stuck with the forums, blogs, retail sites; some of which are very good, but no one can give you all the answers to what you are looking for. Purveyor of watch information and reviews would benefit to band together and create a centralized portal for watch information. There is benefit for the consumer and watch enthusiast, as well as attractiveness to watch makers who want to get their goods out there.
It would be proper to list some of the major watch websites, although no such definitive list exists. Large forum sites include Timezone.com, Watchuseek.com, Puristspro.com and PMWF.com. Informative blogs include ablogtowatch.com, watchismo.blogspot.com, and watchreport.com. Watch retailers are many, and one of the best (not specifically a watch retailer), is eBay.com. Keep your eyes open, and feel free to add to the list by commenting.