Watchismo.com was proudly interviewed for Monster Marketplace's Merchant Spotlight. Click the image above to visit the Q&A or read below:
Q: What was it about cutting edge
and unique watches that led you to launch an online retail store back in
WATCHISMO: The contemporary watch market was
very very dull in the late nineties. Very few watches had interesting
designs and even fewer were affordable. That led us to the world of
obscure vintage watches - strange timepieces that were developed in a
remarkable ten year span between 1965 and 1975 when so much change in
the world allowed for true eccentricity of design in all areas
imaginable, especially fashion, art and industrial design. If you're
resourceful, you can find a selection of outstanding examples -- many of
the holy grails of watch design -- in a now-out-of-print book by Dutch
collector Pieter Doensen, called "Watch - History of the Modern Wrist
Born purely as a passion for collecting, our vintage collection grew to a
point that the habit needed financial support. This led to the
creation of the first Watchismo.com store in 1998/99 and was ultimately
cemented by an editor at Vogue who said they would mention us in the
famed September issue if we had an online store to promote. Nuff said,
so we built it as a commercial reliquary for only the most unusual
vintage watches of that era.
Years later, the modern watch world started to play catch-up and from
the early part of the century, designs improved for unique and
affordable watches so we started slowly carrying more and more modern
brands. We buy as enthisiasts and with a collector's eye, never adding
product we don't consider worthy of our aesthetic or that we wouldn't
like to wear ourselves!
Q: How do you discover the obscure
timepieces you offer through your store?
WATCHISMO: Vintage was always a challenge but when you
immerse yourself in something, you find a way. Years of establishing
friendships with dealers around the world was key in the early days of
Finding modern watches requires everything from attending the annual
watch fair in Switzerland called "Baselworld" to roaming cities around
the world for local companies producing something unique. Just recently
on a vacation to Barcelona, we discovered a Spanish brand called 666
Barcelona at a small watch shop on Las Ramblas. At the time the line
was distributed only in Spain, so we approached them about being sold at
Watchismo and it has been a great success. We're also contacted
directly from the watch companies who pitch us their timepieces. Some we
take on or test out but many are turned down if they don't "fit" our
Q: What are some particularly
unique aspects of your timepieces that set them apart from those found
WATCHISMO: Well, we curate our watch collection, as
mentioned above, we definitely imagine an overall feel for our store as
if you were at gallery or museum. Representing a collection is a
product of its own in a way, and we want the experience of shopping with
us to be a unique one. Even though we have thousands of styles, you
won't or shouldn't feel as if you're looking for a needle in a haystack
Q: How are different designs
infused to make watches a wearable form of art?
WATCHISMO: As more everyday objects offer time
(especially cellphones), watches have been challenged to express
themselves with more "umph" in our opinion. There are more designer
inspired models, statement watches of a different sort. More and more
watches are using bright colors, radical case shapes and most of all,
new and unusual ways of telling time outside of digital or analog
displays. Some are challenging the wearer/viewer to "understand" the
time or best yet, watches that truly find a new way to display time that
is both readable and give us something to contemplate or discuss. Many
watches we sell are true conversation starters... a close friend of
Watchismo stopped short of saying that a watch of ours... well, I'll
just say it impressed his date.
Q: What designs or features do you
predict we will see on timepieces in the coming years to complement
WATCHISMO: We hope and count on designers to push the
limits of what can display time on the wrist. Everything from the
minimalist beauty of stating just the time in a stylish way to absurd
kinetic sculptures that blur the lines of taste. Some of our minimalist
favorites include the one-handed watches of Germany's Botta, the witty
Italian brand Nava with their just slightly off-kilter concepts of
displaying time to the perfectly simple watches of French designer
Philippe Starck. Our favorite eccentrics are often from Japan --
summed up best by our new brand Seahope who continually challenge the
viewer with what are sometimes "time-puzzles" or just plain innovative
I'm sure we'll offer watches of higher function but have no plans on
being what could be an iWatch style timepiece. But you never know what
is around the corner, we just plan on selling fun watches with good
solid designs...oh and of course for the best price!
Q: Which brands or watch designs
receive the most feedback? Why do you think this is so?
WATCHISMO: A watch that has always been a best seller
and somewhat controversial is from a concept artist/designer in the UK -
Mr. Jones Watches, "The Accurate". Billed as the most 'accurate'
timepiece in the world it just features a simple traditional analog
watch with hour, minute and seconds hand. But the statement is in what
the hands say and the "Momento Mori" message they convey. The hour hand
says "Remember" and the minutes say "You Will Die". It may seem dark
but the artist Crispin Jones explains it best:
"The dial and rim of the glass on the Accurate is mirrored, so
that the wearer is reflected in the watch face (so that there is no
ambiguity about who the message is aimed at). The Accurate is a link to
the venerable tradition of the memento mori - an object designed to
remind us that life is brief and that we should seize the moment while
we are here.
"Today everyone has a mobile phone to do the really functional
timekeeping, this means that the wristwatch is free to do something a
bit different. The watches I design reflect and comment on society, both
on the role that time plays in all our lives and also on the social
impact of technology."
Summed up, this watch hit a nerve with people all over and has been very
popular since we started selling it last year.
Q: Your daily watch deals receive a
large response from buyers -- how have you used affordability as a tool
for your online store?
WATCHISMO: This was an experiment to engage our regular
customers and fans from Facebook. We had no idea it would be such a
great success! Who knew people love great deals?? But of course, that
is why it has been popular... We offer the best prices anywhere for
short one-day sales that our customers seem to keep close eyes for
watches they like.
Q: You have been featured in
numerous magazines and newspapers -- What has made your business so
appealing to the media? In what ways has this helped your business
change or grow?
WATCHISMO: We've been fortunate to hit a nerve -- and
I'm not sure it's the same nerve for everyone because watches are such a
fiercely personal statement for each individual. There are a million
places to buy a watch but all of them are purely commercial, just
product for products sake. We hope that our combination of good design,
appropriate collection, big detailed photos, ease of navigation and
clear presentation are the right mix to showcase our individuality. It
seems to me that whenever you love to do something, it shows and we hope
that comes across to everyone that visits Watchismo.com!
Q: It is evident that you have a
very large fan base on Facebook -- what ways have you marketed your
business and products to drive customers, both new and old, to your
WATCHISMO: We have relied so much on word of mouth and
being referred to by some of the most interesting blogs and websites
today. Sites like BoingBoing.net, Gizmodo.com and many other
influential sites have been great supporters of our products so their
editorial helps us tell our story while connecting customers with our
store. A site like BoingBoing can direct over 10,000 people to us in
one day when they feature us. Combined with regular (but not
overwhelming) email campaigns, we try and stay in direct touch with our
customers and fans. It's a relationship, not a business transaction.
Q: What else would you like to
tell us about Watchismo or new product designs on the horizon?
WATCHISMO: Actually, we are just back from a production
meeting in Switzerland for the early stages of the very first
'Watchismo' designed timepiece. It's a design we've been perfecting
over the past two years with our CAD designer and will embody all our
past interests in both style and function. We've absorbed so much
during the past 12 years in business and are gearing up to produce a
Time Machine like no other!