To Everyone In The HODINKEE Community,
Some of you may not know who I am, so I want to take this moment to introduce myself. I’m Eneuri. I’ve been reading HODINKEE since 2011 and have been part of the team for three years now leading operations as our COO. I work closely with Ben – who you all likely know – and Russell – the leader of the HODINKEE Shop – to guide our growing company in an effort to provide the best possible experience for you, our readers and supporters. I touch a little bit of everything around here, from editorial to limited edition projects to the shop. I’ve met several of you at our meetups and H10 event, and I hope to meet more of you in person some day soon.
I’m here to talk about something we did last week that has hit a nerve with some of you. We launched a limited edition clock and, well, you have thoughts on it! At this point, I would expect nothing less.
We’ve spent the last few days listening to your feedback and, in the spirit of transparency, we thought we would write this letter and answer some of the questions you have.
But first, we want to provide you with some background on how this product came to be. For as long as I’ve known Ben, Stephen, Jack, and the earliest team members of HODINKEE, they’ve always talked about how much they loved those early 20th-century folding alarm clocks made by the likes of Asprey, LeCoultre, Cartier, and more. So much so that there are several of them sitting around our office. It’s long been a dream of ours to revive this concept, but with our own touches and sensibilities. So for years, we sought to find someone that could help us do this. Then, one day we did.
During a trip to Switzerland some years back, a few of us were lucky enough to meet with the good folks at L’Epée 1839. You may know them as one of the oldest Swiss-made clockmakers and for making some of the most beautiful time machines in the world. They’re the guys behind those amazing clocks with Max Büsser and the super cool car clock we wrote about last year. You can read about them here and here.
During that meeting, the conversation led to what a project between HODINKEE and L’Epée could look like, and we dreamed up something that would speak to our love of all things vintage, reimagined in a modern way. Along the way, we discovered that L’Epée knew of just 96 movements, made by Pontifa, left over from a project by another major brand that they had helped coordinate years before. These movements were out of production, never to be made again. And we knew we had to grab them.
And so the idea of the HODINKEE Eight-Day Travel Clock was born. We spent hours studying travel clock designs from the 1920s and 1930s. We designed a brand new case to house the movements – one that was more robust than those from the last century. The thirty-plus-year-old movements were disassembled, serviced, and reassembled. We sourced leather and other materials from some of the top suppliers in the industry. We wanted to update the entire feel of the clock, so instead of doing an existing typeface, we worked with the amazing Jonathan Hoefler, arguably the world’s greatest typeface designer, to use his then-unreleased Decimal. It was, of course, an entirely new typeface designed with inspiration from 20th-century watchmaking.
The entire thing was engineered and constructed by hand in Switzerland, just as it should. The carry cases, which are made of high-grade shell cordovan leather, were hand-stitched in the USA, again fully custom-made for us to fit this object.
In short, like every other HODINKEE branded product, we tried to create something special and thoughtful. And we are really proud of the end result. And based on how fast it sold, we know that some people feel the same way.
So with that background, let’s get into some of your most frequently asked questions about the HODINKEE Eight-Day Travel Clock Limited Edition.
No one can travel right now, why a “travel clock?”
As I mentioned, this project was born years ago, and the first batch of clocks was delivered to us in January of this year. Like the rest of the world, there was just no way to know what was ahead of us in 2020. And while many of us are not traveling now, we dream of the day when we can. It was in that spirit that we launched the clock. In all sincerity, it was not our intent to minimize the more important events happening globally. And, while the clock was inspired by travel, it is certainly not limited to being used when traveling. Also, it might be hard to believe, but we’re a very small company. And we really just wanted to get these out to the world.
How’d you come to this price?
We spend a lot of time thinking about and developing unique products at various price points because we truly believe that there are great brands doing amazing work in every price category in our industry. Some of the feedback we’ve gotten over the years is that our limited edition products are too limited, and so only a few can enjoy them. So we try to walk a fine line of offering products that we could all enjoy, while at the same time appreciating truly esoteric and niche corners of the watch world.
We understood this product would not be for everyone. Instead of doing a mass product with automated manufacturing in Asia, we made a decision to do a small batch production run using a movement we thought was special, assembled by hand in Switzerland by one of the most creative companies in the business. There is no economy of scale. This kind of specialized production is not inexpensive to execute. Have a look at some of their other products…
OK fine, but why did you turn comments off on Instagram?
That was a mistake. We decided to turn off the comments not because we wanted to silence your feedback or avoid negative comments. In fact, we’ve left comments open on every post since, and you haven’t held back! We have also developed a really robust community platform right here on this site where you can freely leave your comments and feedback as you please! That includes criticism of the product and us, at times. This is unlike most other media sites in this industry and those adjacent, and we love that you engage with it.
Our reasoning for turning off the comments was two-fold. For one, we sincerely wanted everyone to judge the travel clock on the merits of its uniqueness. In past sponsored content and limited edition posts on Instagram, we have removed the comments to allow the community to make up their own mind on if they like it or not. However, we have not been consistent with the comment removal, and that is on us. But part of our mission is to encourage new people to join the watch hobby and community. And sometimes, when the comments turn nasty, we don’t feel that is very inviting to newcomers. This is supposed to be fun, after all. I think that’s really important to remember.
Secondly, some of the comments simply went too far. In the past, we’ve seen comments go from innocent teasing (which we’re totally cool with – you can’t work with a guy like Jack and not expect a few jokes here and there) to personal attacks against our team members, and that is not OK with us. We do not support cyber-bullying. While we are all up for a discussion, even when it is critical of us, the nature of the internet, in particular Instagram, tends to dehumanize people, and none of our team members signed up for that. It also doesn’t help this hobby one bit.
In hindsight, there would have been no way for you, our community members, to know that, and we could have done a better job explaining our thinking. We understand that action goes against one of the principles that makes HODINKEE great, which is allowing for an open exchange of ideas. In the future, we will be more thoughtful before we take that kind of action. However, we will continue to remove any comment that we deem as hate speech or cyber-bullying, of us, or anyone in our community.
OK, but what about products for everyone?
A fair point. But please remember that the week before we launched the clock, we launched a $ 170 Swatch and a $ 40 Flik Flak. Same team, same site, same shop. Look, you know us and what we do. Our mission is to help make those who don’t care about watches like them, and those who like them love them. We love and write about watches up and down the price spectrum. Same for the timepieces we sell in the shop. A reminder: We put a few million words of watch content into the world every single year, whether or not you buy a strap, watch, magazine, or clock from us at all. We cover the whole space, from top to bottom, just like we have from day 1.
That said, we know that sometimes perception can be reality. So know that we take your feedback to heart, and if you do feel this way about us, we hope you give us an opportunity to change your mind. As we look ahead to the limited editions coming later this year, we have made a very conscious effort – based on your previous feedback – to create more accessible products. We are excited about the fun stuff we have coming. And we think you will be too.
OK, so what next?
So let’s have a dialogue. We have been working for some time on a better way for us all to interact, so please feel free to drop your feedback either in the comments, or you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those that e-mail us, we will begin hosting bi-monthly meet-ups (by Zoom for now) beginning this Wednesday at 4:00 PM hosted by our Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Russell Kelly.
And if you ever want to share your feedback directly with me, I’m all ears. You can reach me at email@example.com.
Chief Operating Officer