It takes a certain degree of familiarity with what happens on a daily basis in the watch lover world on (mostly) Instagram to understand the various levels of humor found in the remarkably on-point satirical Instagram account “Watch_Amish.” On the surface, you have a pretty darn funny place that ironically combines Amish lifestyle with luxury timepieces, as well as a deeper element of social commentary on the arguably absurd and socially irresponsible environment that now exists in many luxury watch social media channel accounts.
The “Watch Amish” name is first and foremost a humorous retort to “Watch Anish,” a luxury watch lifestyle and fashion channel on Instagram started by Mr. Anish Bhatt as a way of combining his clever visual talents and appreciation of timepieces. Despite rather legitimate questions that have been raised about follower and engagement authenticity, Bhatt’s skilled sense of putting together a theme has nevertheless inspired many would-be social media fame-followers to replicate the type of luxury lifestyle sharing (mostly about watches, cars, and fashion) that Watch Anish has become known for. Over the last couple of years, people from all around the world have flocked to immediate and visually-oriented social media platforms such as Instagram as a way of attempting to enter the luxury world. A basic, but perhaps not easy to answer question is, why?
Quadruped x Quad Escapement Our resident Amishonista, Elizabeth Schmucker, was rocking this awesome Roger Dubuis on our road trip to AmiSIHH. #teamwatchamish #thefarmlifeinc #amishonista #womw #watchonista #buggylife #instawatch #dailywatch #amishlife #rogerdubuis A photo posted by Eli Hershberger (@watch_amish) on
It’s been interesting to see the social media landscape rapidly develop (devolve) over the last few years, as more and more collectors, retailers, and brand people (as well as everyone who wants people to believe they fit into one the aforementioned categories) use social media to create imagery that they hope illustrates the type of lifestyle they want to portray – whether or not it is authentic. The result is that many people who once used social media channels as a legitimate way of connecting with other collectors and commenting on what other people were doing, wearing, and seeing have since abandoned Instagram and competing social media platforms. One colleague referred to the watch community on Instagram as a “shit show,” and another said a bit more eloquently remarking that, “it’s basically a bunch of douchebag posers trying to make other people think they are rich.”
Why such a wealth of douchebags? Where did all the posers crawl out from? Watch Amish probably doesn’t have the answer to that, but certainly feels that they are obnoxious enough to very cleverly make fun of them in an agreeable and non-confrontational way. I’ll suggest a few answers though. Let’s begin with the assumption that there are only so many hardcore dedicated watch nerds out there who are ardently interested in the ins and outs of horology, movement mechanics, production techniques, and the intricacies of dial and case design. This specialist community (which I am more than likely a member of) is no doubt limited in numbers, and probably among the only people who love watches for being watches. Everyone else who likes watches pretty much enjoys what wearing a watch means. And what it often means is that you have money. Success and good taste is another story.
It’s that time of the week…#redbarncrew is about to break loose on the old Burkholder place. Brother Job’s busting out the big guns with his Rumspringa Masterpiece 032. #teamwatchamish #thefarmlifeinc #redbarn #womw #richardmille #instawatch #dailywatch #buggylife #farmstarpoint #amishstagram #wisconsinwatchclub
Since the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, anthropologists and archeologists have found evidence of people attempting to show off wealth and status – as well as artificially trying to portray themselves as more wealthy than they actually are. The prestige of being rich or successful is so powerful that for thousands of years, people have even faked it. Timepieces are one of the most successful status symbols of our modern times. I spoke about this at length while being interviewed by the BBC on the radio here. Timepieces are wearable and conspicuous status symbols because they are both fashionable and often expensive. They also happen to be socially acceptable to wear because at their core they are functional. This is important because in most modern cultures today, men don’t adorn non-functional “accessories.”
I offer this minor historical and sociological lesson to illustrate why sharing pictures of yourself wearing something expensive such as a watch has become so popular on social media. More so, certain brands see social media as a marketing tool. Companies (watch companies as well) are known to pay people in order to promote or wear their products in pictures posted on social media platforms such as Instagram. So combine the fact that people like to show off actual of farcical wealth in the interest of social promotion with the notion that some people are trying to profit from it, and you do in fact have a social media situation that some consider to be “a cesspool of self-aggrandizing assholes.”
Wisconsin sunset & #Parmigiani. Dat lume lighting up the night sky! Dope pic from my bro Jeremiah #teamwatchamish #thefarmlifeinc #amishlyfe #parmigianifleurier #womw #watches #amishstagram #sunset #luxury A photo posted by Eli Hershberger (@watch_amish) on
Watch Amish isn’t the type of account to say any of that though. Watch Amish exists as a new breed of polite rebels who are increasingly tired of what the watch industry and collector community has allowed and helped created on places like Instagram. In addition to finding Watch Amish really funny (thank you to our Managing Editor David Bredan for initially pointing Watch Amish out to me), I applaud the people behind Watch Amish for using one of the most powerful weapons of social change – humor.
For me, the funniest thing about Watch Amish isn’t the prod at Watch Anish and similar luxury lifestyle accounts, but rather the irony that mechanical watches are indeed an acceptable part of the Amish lifestyle – which rejects most forms of modern technology (but not traditional timepiece). Living as mostly farmers, Amish and similar communities don’t accept things like electricity or automobiles. They do have watches, and while they reject excess and luxury as a matter of their religion, it isn’t a terrible stretch to think of an Amish guy wearing a Rolex. Its just plausible enough that the absurdity works – and Watch_Amish pushes the joke as far as possible with horse buggy rear seat wrist shots and diamond watches placed on ears of corn.
To advance the satirical nature of their content Watch Amish uses actual photography posted by other Instagram accounts – many of which represent the type of content they are trying to make fun of. The results are often laugh out loud funny, and reading the captions that go with the images are always the icing on the cake. There, you’ll find more humorous details such as making fun of popular hashtags and collectors’ groups. New York’s Red Bar Crew in Watch Amish land becomes the “Red Barn Crew,” and of course, there is an image of a red barn with a wrist shot to match.
Perhaps at the end of the day, the real joke is applying the silly show-off luxury culture many want to be a part of today with the manual-laboring and non-mainstream life of the Amish. Believing that the Amish have a secret high-end watch culture is comedy gold, in my opinion. Its enough to forgive the crude photo editing work and sometimes belabored jokes that stretch watch company names into Amish names.
At the time of writing this article, the Watch_Amish account is still relatively niche with under 500 followers – and in a sense, I hope it remains underground so that the character of the humor endures. Then again, the watch community on Instagram and other social media platforms might benefit from the subtle “tone it down” message that Watch_Amish paints with humor in their various “Amish Approved” posts.