Today is a big day for us. It marks the beginning of a few things for HODINKEE, and in this letter, I want to explain of all them so that you, our reader, understands them completely. Let’s get right into it.
In March of 2012, we launched a small e-commerce shop selling the straps, pouches, and rolls that I had been using myself for many years. We were the very first to sell straps such as this online, anywhere. And I did it out of my one-bedroom apartment in New York City, fulfilling every single order myself, while still a full-time graduate student. The response was overwhelming, and its success was one of the reasons I was then able to hire our first employees (who subsequently have brought you the likes of amazing, world-class features like The Road to Basel, Bring A Loupe, and Talking Watches).
A few months later, we’d launch our very first collaboration with the wonderful Drake’s of London, designing two ties each inspired by a vintage Rolex Submariner. You loved them. You also loved our later ties, pocket squares, sunglasses, music boxes, and other watch accessories that would follow. For this, I am forever grateful.
At the same time we were building our e-commerce platform, we took to the streets and held “Pop-Up” shops all over the country – in New York dating back to 2011, in Chicago, and California as well. We even did a pop-up shop at Bergdorf Goodman in 2014, selling some of the great watches that we really believed in to our readers and supporters, offering our own take on all of them, allowing many to have access to these watches that they’d not have access to otherwise. Today, we take things one step further.
Welcome To The New HODINKEE Shop
Now since we launched the HODINKEE Shop four years ago, it’s gone through a series of facelifts – better functionality, wider range of products. Today, it gets a full-on makeover from top to bottom. We’ve re-designed and re-built the the entire process of shopping for watch straps and accessories (completely in-house, naturally), and expanded our offerings to include over 75 different SKUs of straps. SEVENTY FIVE.
And that doesn’t include new offerings like Master & Dynamic headphones, the downright legendary Embassy pen (so called, because diplomats are not allowed to carry weapons into embassies, but this pen can be used as such in a pinch), these #watchnerd must-have tools, so many kinds of carrying cases and pouches it’s a little silly, and more. All of these will be in the shop moving forward.
Say Hello To The Strap Finder
Still, the watch strap remains at the core of the HODINKEE Shop. We truly believe that changing a strap can completely change the personality of a watch, and I myself have been known to not even want to look at a watch with the wrong strap on it. But we know not everyone has the ability to glance at a strap and see what it’ll look like on their watch. To make the shopping experience as easy as possible, we’ve gone ahead and built an amazing little tool called the Strap Finder. What it is is a way to see what our straps will look like on your watch (or a similar watch) before you buy it. We also went ahead and made some suggestions about what pairs best with our straps. Check out the gif above – we think you’ll love it.
Introducing Rare Finds
A brand new category of products on the HODINKEE Shop is called “Rare Finds.” These are individual items that we’ve come across in our travels that we feel represent our core values of simple, thoughtful design, high-end craft, and long-term, lasting value. These items are essentially one-offs in many cases and will include everything from arguably the most beautiful and collectible Leica to be made in the last five years to spectacular vintage clocks, sunglasses, and other objects. One item we are particularly excited about is the print you see above – which is an image of Mr. Paul Newman taken at Sebring in 1978 by legendary photographer Al Satterwhite. We were able to obtain an exclusive series of prints of this fantastic image of Newman in his element, wearing the watch that now bears his name. Of course, it’s printed on archival quality paper, with each individually numbered and signed by the photographer himself. Once these are gone, they are gone forever.
Here are a few more of the rare finds we’ll be launching with today that we think you’ll just love – some extraordinarily rare clocks from the likes of Rolex, Universal, Heuer, and Jaeger-LeCoultre.
But we’re not done yet. We’ll also be stocking a small but incredible collection of highly prized but impossible to find sunglasses dating as far back as the 1960s. Every single pair you’ll find in the HODINKEE Shop is new-old-stock and completely unworn – many of them still come with original packaging. These glasses were made before the era of mega-conglomerates and machine production, when Persol was an Italian company and Ray-Ban was housed in Rochester, New York.
The pair of glasses we’re most excited about are something you probably didn’t even know existed – but once you hear about em, you won’t be able to live without them, in particular if you own a Royal Oak or a Nautilus. Yes, these are original Gerald Genta designed glasses, complete with original packaging and in brand-new condition.
We will be updating our Rare Finds selections periodically, so be sure to check back here often.
Introducing Watch Sales On The HODINKEE Shop
Here’s the thing – buying a watch usually sucks. But it doesn’t have to.
Purchasing a vintage watch is, at times, a downright painful experience. Dealers that don’t give you the time of day, auction houses that don’t give you all the information, and private sellers that simply don’t know what they’re selling have become the norm. We know this because we live and breathe vintage watches, and we ourselves have experienced all this all too many times. Today, that changes.
Showing You The Bad With The Good
With the HODINKEE Shop, we’re changing the conversation. We’re giving you everything you need to know about a watch to make a decision – and frankly, much more. Why? Because the world of vintage watches has been stuck in a flea-market mentality for too long. Today, the best watches in the world are slung in backpacks, across borders – iPhone photos offered over text message and Whatsapp to clients with little chance to see the finer points or take the time to ask what’s wrong with a watch. Prices are hidden, changing depending on who’s asking, with little regard for what the actual market price may be. Essentially, each buyer is on his own, hoping that the seller has the decency to reveal the true history of any given timepiece.
How? We’re going to go so far beyond what any seller is offering it’s not even funny. We’ve built a beautiful interface to support high-res images, and we’ve even gone as far as to tell you what we don’t love about each watch – because there is nothing worse than being told something about your watch. We’ll tell you everything from the get-go. Good and Bad. Because you know what? These watches are old, and it’s OK to have some things wrong with them – anyone trying to sell you a half-century old watch with nothing wrong with it is selling you something else entirely.
There is no such thing as a perfect 50-year-old watch, and anyone trying to sell you one is selling you something else entirely. It’s time to change the narrative.
And this brings me to my next point – the difference between an experienced collector and a novice is an understanding of honesty in a watch. The watches we have chosen for the HODINKEE are in great shape – are they absolutely mint and unworn? Nope, but they’re original, and honest, and to us, that’s far more important. Sure, we could bring you laser-welded cases and hands with subtle re-lumes, but that’s not what we believe in – we believe in old watches that look old, those who have lived an honest life. Take, for example, this amazing 6263. This bad boy is a completely honest watch in every way – and yes, it’s missing a lume plot at 3 o’clock – someone else would re-apply the lume, but we didn’t, because we know there are people out there that value originality more than a superficial appearance of perfection (though, frankly, everything else on that 6263 is downright flawless).
So, we’ll be showing you the good with the bad on every single watch sold on the HODINKEE Shop because we want the world around us to realize consumers are rational enough – intelligent enough – to purchase watches that are real, not just re-done. Oh, and while we’re going to offer mega high-res images, there won’t be any photo-shopping, ever. Revel in that dust! This is how a 50-year-old watch should look!
We’ll be looking for great quality, awesome style, and of course, true value that we believe in. Oh, and did we mention we’ll be opening up the HODINKEE Shop to you, dear readers, when you want to sell a watch? Why? Because as of today, selling a watch also sucks.
Selling Your Watch On The HODINKEE Shop
Now comes something else. One of the most difficult things to do in the watch world is selling. Again, you’ll either get low-balled by a dealer, have to wait 6 months for payment from an auction house, or list on a forum and hope for the best. Here, we’ll be taking limited but awesome watches in for sale on the HODINKEE Shop, vetted, described, and marketed completely by us, that will go out to our audience of around 1,000,000 watch lovers from around the world.
Now we’re going to start slowly, to make sure we do this the right way. So don’t be upset if we don’t take your watch on day one. We hope to build up to something that can accommodate a much larger number of watches, but at the same time, we’d like to keep everything on our shop beautiful, special, and interesting. Details on that here.
OK. Now that I’ve bored you half to death, visit the HODINKEE Shop right here and have a look at what we’ve found for you. And be sure to let us know what you think below in the comments. We hope you’ll love it.