The short answer – Because Hodinkee shut down the Watchville app.
The long answer – Because ever since Hodinkee shut down the Watchville app early in 2022, the global watch community has expanded into a wildly diverse subculture which is especially prolific when it comes to generating what we now call watch content.
Watch content includes essays, reviews, opinion pieces, buying guides, history lessons, expert insights and, yes, a ton of marketing-driven content, especially now that more than a few of the larger publications have become watch retailers and/or have been underwritten by watch brands via sponsored content. Watch content also includes many podcasts, which proliferated during the doldrums of the Covid-19 pandemic, and watch content includes quite a number of YouTube channels as well. The recent expansion of what many call “the watch space” has been astounding – and perhaps a bit overwhelming.
How to keep track of it all? How to feel that sweet sense of unity and inclusivity that once prevailed when the world of watches was (or at least felt) small and familiar?
Without the Watchville app, the global watch community no longer had a central hub, an intersection through which much of this community’s endless output would pass all day every day so that the silo’ing effects of digital life didn’t divide our community the way it has divided nearly every community I can think of over the past decade or so.
This is why The Watch Space app is so inclusive.
I personally pushed for robust inclusivity as we began discussing how to curate the content sources. I understood on some level that if William Massena and I – two very different kind of watch heads, yes, but also both New Yorkers of the same age with certain similarities in our tastes and mindsets – were to curate based on what we deemed the best content, we’d end up with a pretty exclusive set of news sources in The Watch Space feeds. There was something in the name The Watch Space that made me question curation, and suggested that this new app could just be a wide open intersection fed from all directions.
To give an example of how a heavier curatorial hand might have wound up being divisive, consider that I am entirely uninterested in the modern military and in the kinds of watches used in battle. But to suggest that this subculture isn’t part of the watch space – and thus shouldn’t be included in The Watch Space app – seems to be exactly the kind of divisive subcultural silo’ing I find so troubling about digital life in the first place.
As a watch collector and avid motorcyclist, I’ve found that common enthusiast interests like these can build bridges across ideological divides that tear at the fragile digital fabric of our society. I’m convinced most watch enthusiasts and motorcyclists care more about their timepieces and their bikes than they do about who won some election last term, and I just didn’t want to put an app out there that didn’t at least make bridge-building possible. I know The Watch Space app has already opened my eyes to many niches I’d otherwise never have seen. I like open eyes.
Where else in this world can you find info that’s not aimed at you by an algorithm? Or served up by elite-class SEO? Or filtered by some AI quasi-being programmed by a self-important tech-libertarian? The Watch Space App has no algorithm, no SEO, no AI, and no ethos. The app just brings together as many of us publishing watch enthusiasts as we can reasonably squeeze into the feeds.
And if you don’t want to see a certain source’s stories, then just turn that source off using the convenient toggles. You are in control, not us. This openness is why I believe the app lives up to its name.
If you’d like to know how we curate the feeds, you can read our curatorial policy, which I’ve reprinted at the bottom of this post.
Technically, getting all those sources to work as seamlessly as they do in The Watch Space app was – and continues to be – no small challenge. I’ll spare you the explanation, which I hardly understand myself as I didn’t code the app, but suffice it to say that no two blogs or podcasts are the same, and so to get that seamless experience in the app was one of our greatest challenges. And it is one of the greatest rewards. Like a great watch which just looks great and works simply, there is a world of complexity underneath that delivers the intuitive interface you simply enjoy – for free.
How It Started
William Massena and I decided to have lunch one day, and it was there eating on the street in Manhattan that we realized we were both working on an app to replace Watchville. Days later we’d formalized our plan to work together, and roughly ten months later we announced it to the world. William and I both understood the need for the app, but it was those months of back-n-forth about what would make sense and be technically possible that resulted in the app which is in your hands.
I had some crazy ideas for a while there, which were – thankfully – tempered by the team. I’d wanted to divide the streams into sellers, journalists and brands. This isn’t an entirely inaccurate way to divide up the world of watches, but it is cynical and, as a method for finding information, not very helpful. I thought it was clever commentary, and William pointed out that that’s all it was. We moved on, and have the very useful tabs of News, YouTube and podcasts. Much better.
I can’t remember all the nutty ideas we’d floated past each other, but that was a process of collaborative elimination that I enjoyed very much, and which led us to conclude in the end that a highly inclusive and easy-to-use app was what was needed. So that’s what we made.
You can download The Watch Space app for free at The App Store.
CURATORS, NOT EDITORS – TWS curates, but it doesn’t edit. We have no control over anyone’s content, but we do control which sources are included in the TWS feeds.
INCLUSIVITY – TWS aims to include as many media sources as possible which cover the world of watches and which meet our minimum requirements. We do not exclude based on slant, style or journalistic aesthetics, for example. (Note that our app allows users to conveniently exclude any source based on each user’s personal preferences.)
- Technical incompatibility. Some sources are not compatible with the technology we use. If your source is not compatible, but you’d like it to be, contact TWS and we will provide you with guidelines to bring your publication into compatibility.
- Marketing and sales sources. We recognize that over the past decade the line between sales and marketing materials and proper objective journalism has blurred considerably (e.g., sponsored content is often labeled, but sometimes it is not; many publications are retailers). We exclude sources which are overtly and consistently selling the products being covered, but we cannot entirely exclude on this basis due to the aforementioned blurring of the proverbial church and state. TWS recognizes that some news about sales and marketing constitutes a significant contribution to understanding the world of watches (e.g. significant auctions, industry marketing policies, etc.). We also recognize that a great deal of useful content is generated by sellers. TWS curators exclude on this basis through subjective judgment, and such exclusions will evolve dynamically over time as norms change. Exclusions are not up for debate and remain our sole decision.
- Offensive content. TWS reserves the right to exclude based on our subjective judgment of what constitutes offense. We do not debate these decisions, and will make them internally in as fair and open-minded a manner as possible.
ADVERTISERS – TWS will generate income from the sale of advertisements which will appear in TWS feeds. Advertisers will not receive any privileged treatment in terms of inclusivity or prominence (visibility) beyond the placement of their ads.