Monday, 11 October 2010

Watching the watches

Christopher Ward C5SSS
Last week I put up an affiliate link to Christopher Ward watches on this site - see, it's still there. One of my Facebook friends objected immediately. Not only was I suggesting putting a watch blog up (which was an idea I'd floated) but I'd suddenly put a watch link in there. Would this bias any copy? And worse, he said, it was Christopher Bloody Ward.

All of which bemused me a bit. Yes, they were the first people to approve my request for affiliation but I only asked because I actually own a number of their watches and am pretty happy with them. My favourite for formal wear, the C5SSS, is pictured (C5 is the model number and the multiple Ss refer to the silver strap, dial else). I also have a jazzier model based on a Bentley dashboard - it says on the site - which looks pretty good with a tee-shirt.

Personally I'm very happy with these. The less formal model is Swiss made and the pictured version has a Swiss movement but to me that's less important than the fact that they look pretty good and are - wait for it - affordable. I'm not into this "spending thousands on a watch" thing; if I'm going to spend thousands on something it had better be something I'm going to remember, not something I'm going to put on and use for telling the time. Neither of my watches cost more than £250 from the Christopher Ward site (click on the banner above by all means).

There may be people reading this blog who either collect watches or who know a bit more about the innards, and who might be able to tell me where they think I'm going wrong and above all why more expensive models represent good value. I'm open to that and by all means let's use this blog as a learning place.

So to recap on the vested interests, I have an affiliate link so if you buy through it I'll gain from it and I wrote a piece for their last catalogue for which they paid me. But I was an existing customer, there's no bias in that or in anything I've written. What does everyone else wear on their wrists around these parts - and why opt for a particular brand or model?


  1. Hands up - I'm the person who queried (rather than objected to) the commercial relationship between Guy's blog and the brands he says he likes. He's since made things much clearer, as the posting above shows. Which is great.

    As to what everyone else wears, I'm currently sporting a rather fetching Zenith El Primero. It uses one of my favourite movements, the calibre 410.

  2. Fair enough - I thought the phrase "Christopher Bloody Ward" was fairly strident for a query!

    Zenith's a premium brand. Perhaps you could tell us a little about what difference the movement makes, and what people get for their money in this respect? Genuine question.

  3. I just love the beauty of the movement, and how ahead of its time it was. 10 beats per second was pretty much unheard of when the 410 came out.

    Take a look at - the person that wrote that did a better job explaining what I like about it than I ever could!

  4. Oh, and as I think you probably realise, the "Christopher bloody Ward" comment was mainly a reference to the company's online marketing strategy (which some of us see as a bit 'spammy' and shouty), rather than the products themselves.

  5. Interested by this. Not at all interested in watches per se; I have one my wife gave me, and I greatly value, but hardly ever wear it - work requires 'bare below the elbows'. More interested in whether you can pull it off. Are you going to be open about your earnings? I guess it depends mostly on your relationship with your followers and, for me, that depends on just the openness you show so far and the openness you show from now on. In addition, Christopher Ward's responsiveness to approaches from potential customers, may reflect upon you...but I'm sure you've thought of that. Good luck. As I suggest, I shall watch with interest.

  6. Personally I use a sub-£40 Casio in stainless steel, which tells me the state of the tide in Plymouth. And yes, I do need to know, sometimes.

  7. I'm not sure what the issue is. Many blogs carry affiliate banners - they're managed by third parties and the bloggers don't have to talk to the advertisers at all.

    The relationship between a magazine and its advertisers is closer. And the independence of the editorial is never in any doubt, or else the readers would go away.

    Not sure why an affiliate banner should cause any concern.

  8. I researched the market when it was apparent that just everything being sold in the £200-400 range used around 5 quartz movements, and came out of chine for about $40.

    We even floated our own branding ideas: for a web project that is in the works. We picked classic designs using Seiko and Citizen movements and got a manufacturer to run some prototypes, and they are really very, very nice with smooth screw link bracelets and all the trimmings.

    The notion of paying upwards of a grand for a clockwork timepiece that cannot compete with quartz for accuracy is one of those fascinating marketing conundrums that brings out the heathen in me.

    The Chinese copies of classic Swiss movements are getting better all the time - and the some of SS cases and bracelets are indistinguishable to all but experts. A Rolex datejust for $50 is indistinguishable - but they don't do mech stopwatches: - anything that looks like a stopwatch for $70 tells the time, but the other dials are arbitrary. In some instances where show 24 hour time and day/date as on several Daytona-alikes, they are probably more useful than the real thing.

    So the speciality things like Daytona and Yachtmaster are a bit of fun, although the adverts don't point this out. (And don't expect you local TSO to be interested...)

    Having had Rolex quote ~£800 to change a battery in a perfectly good Oysterquartz which they insisted on servicing before changing the battery, my contempt for that lot is considerable. I could buy about 15 of these "tribute" watches for the price of a battery fitting.

    Note that "made in china" descriptions are approximate only!

  9. Timex Indiglo - I need to be able to know the time at night without turning the light on.

    Purely practical. New most recent purchase has a date on it. If I could have found a simpler version without the date I would have.

  10. My favourite is a metal-strapped Dugena - a brand better known in Germany than here - that my wife gave me.

    The one thing I insist on in a watch is that it also shows the date, and preferably the day too, and the Dugena does both.

  11. I wear one of two watches. For looks, I wear a chunky titanium Citizen EcoDrive, with a bracelet, that charges itself through a photovoltaic cell behind the face. For sports, I wear a cheap waterproof Casio with a stopwatch function.

  12. Going back to your point about affiliates vs. magazine advertising, I think the difference is that magazines tend to have established brands, and have a trust relationship with their readers.

    If you do a google search for certain brands that use affiliate marketing (I won't mention names!) you'll find lots of websites that at first sight appear to be genuine, but dig a little deeper and they are simply click magnets, looking for search engine users and trying to shunt them through to a shopping site. It's very spammy, if not a little scammy (sometimes, in some cases). There doesn't seem to be any distinction between editorial and advertorial - something that would be flagged in a magazine.

    That trust relationship that magazines have with their readers simply doesn't exist in the blogosphere - at least, not by default. Any trust needs to be earned.

    Now certain blogs *are* trusted, and seen as independent sources of content. But that trust has only been earned by being squeaky clean - perhaps even more so than would be needed in print. It's not just about being good, it's about being seen to be good.

    I think your recent declarations of interest have gone a long way towards building that trust.

  13. Fair enough. Anyone who wants to Google me will find I've been a journalist since 1989 and still am, and any bias in public would compromise my ability to earn a living. So I have vested interests in sustaining trust - particularly on a blog like this, which isn't yet earning anything and I don't expect it to for a long while.

    If/when it does, I'll continue to take the long view and be honest with readers. Nobody's going to want to come back to a site that's pure marketing, and I suspect I'd be the wrong person to write a marketing-led blog anyway.

  14. Citizen Modena Eco-Drive. Now, sadly, discontinued but, IMO, among the most elegant (in a manly way) gents watches ever created.

  15. Breguet Transatlantique type XX today. Breguet (pronounced breh-gay) make a lot of 'fine' watches - I'd even go so far as to say 'poncy'. But the type XX is more of a sports watch, and it contains a unique movement.

    As usual, others put it better than I can:

  16. That's certainly not THE most vulgar Swiss watch I've seen... It's big and ugly, though.

    There's nothing more amusing than the trip from the gate to customs at Geneva airport, where the Swiss manufacturers demonstrate just what hideous crap the filthy rich can be conned into buying...

  17. Yes, I'm a bit of a fan of simplicity myself as you can probably tell from the watch pictured at the top of the blog entry.

  18. I guess everything's relative... :)

  19. Well, classic design, no extra dials, only one button on the side, a date window and no other frills...

  20. It's not utterly horrible. I'd certainly rather be seen wearing that than Paul's Breguet. :)

    The dial is a bit big and both dial and the bracelet are a bit fussy for me... But I am VERY picky about watches. Not Swiss brand name picky - elegant design picky...

  21. GuyS - it's really not big. I can see why you think it might be, but it really isn't. I can't wear big watches - I've got girlie wrists ;-)

    GuyC - I love classic designs too. I've got lots of very 'plain' watches. But I also have a love of elegant engineering, which is why you'll see most of my "what I'm wearing today" posts talking about the movement inside the watch. To me, what you can see through the window on the back is as important as what's under the glass on the front. (Not that style/design is unimportant). The Breguet just happened to be what I picked from the watch drawer this morning.

    It's just as likely to be a swatch tomorrow!

  22. The Christopher Ward in the picture has a back window too.

  23. Lots of cheap Chinese watches have rear windows too - doesn't mean there's a particularly nice view inside though!

    I guess I'm just a watch snob! Sorry..


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