HoDinkee Travel Clock Jumps the Shark

HoDinkee travel clock in hand

Three days ago, HoDinkee introduced their $5900 limited edition HoDinkee travel clock. The watch community was not amused. They let HoDinkee have it, both barrels, dissing the product for being ditchwater dull and hideously overpriced. They called out HoDinkee for being, well, a ‘ho. The criticism was pointed, withering and angry. So HoDinkee shut off comments on their Instagram page . . .

The HoDinkee eight-day travel clock is only the website’s latest and most egregious attempt to bilk readers with “special edition” timepieces trading on their “good name.” Only HoDinkee’s name isn’t good, and hasn’t been for years.

HoDinkee SWATCH

HoDinkee turned their back on editorial independence a long time ago, when they jumped into bed with watch advertisers, promising their horological Johns that they’d never quarrel in public.

And so they didn’t. Then they started selling watches. Then they became an authorized dealer for twenty-plus brands. Then they banked big bucks selling HoDinkee limited edition watches. And now . . . a clock. And what a clock it isn’t!

Back of clock

Our man #perezcope points out that the Hodinkee travel clock’s Pontifa movement is a humdrum piece of mothballed machinery. It’s a “chunky, unrefined and historically irrelevant key-winding unit that was never used in high end brands like Hermes or Cartier as implied [in the ad copy]. No wonder pictures weren’t shown.”

Hodinkee travel clock instagram come-on

Thanks to the main site, the HoDinkee Shop, hundreds of thousands of emails and glossy Instagram posts, it worked! All 96 Eight-Day Travel Clocks sold out.

I make that $566,400 gross. Even if HoDinkee has to split the cash with whoever makes the thing, that’s a cool $250k for a travel clock that’s almost as vapid as their reviews. But not quite. Here’s the kicker:

HoDinkee travel clock happy hands

Because each HODINKEE Eight-Day Travel Clock is crafted by hand, it takes time to make them perfect. A number of clocks are available for immediate delivery, and more will arrive shortly. 

Shortly? Punters paid $5900 for a tiny spring-wound alarm clock and they don’t even get it?

I bet dollars to donuts Hodinkee waited until they harvested buyers’ money before green lighting production – thinking there couldn’t possibly be 96 people misguided enough to pay six large for a small clock that makes sailboat racing seem exciting. That requires a key to wind.

Vintage Jaeger LeCoultre Folding Travel Alarm Clock

For comparison, you can buy a brown leather cased 1940’s Jaeger-leCoultre eight day folding travel clock on eBay for $650. Sure, you’ll have to send the dial and hands to International Dial to remove the deadly radium lume and pay someone to give it a good service, but you’d still save four thousand dollars.

Searching the web, I can’t find a single travel clock for over a grand. Why would I? Sensible people are happy traveling with a small, cheap and cheerful timepiece to rouse them from their slumber. Something like Marathon’s $50 Mini Non-Ticking Analog Alarm Clock with Auto Back Light and Snooze. Or nothing at all – except their smartphone.

Hodinkee travel clock buyer

You and I know the Hodinkee travel clock isn’t for “sensible” people and it’s not going anywhere. It’ll enjoy pride of place on the bookshelf of people who want to think of themselves as classy. Stylish. Informed. Erudite. The kind of people who memorize the folderol on the Hodinkee Shop product page to regurgitate it to anyone who’ll listen. Like this:

“The movement was originally built by a small Swiss manufacture in Les Ponts-de-Martel, Switzerland. The typeface is called Decimal. There’s a Netflix documentary on the typographer’s workHave you seen it?”

Yeah, in their dreams. With the possible exception of other clueless social climbers, no one’s interested in anyone’s travel clock, especially not this travel cloclk.

To anyone familiar with HoDinkee’s horological hucksterism, the $5900 Eight-Day Travel Clock simply confirms their worst suspicions. Equally, the it signals the fact that Ben Clymer’s $11m+ per year brainchild has finally jumped the shark.

To be clear: the travel clock debacle won’t loosen HoDinkee’s death grip on online watch sales – just as Arthur Fonzarelli‘s waterskiing triumph on Happy Days didn’t crater the popular TV series. BUT –

The absurdity of the Fonz’s leap destroyed the sitcom’s credibility. Same goes for Hodinkee’s $5900 Eight-Day Travel Clock Limited Edition, which has spawned multiple memes and parody Instagram accounts.

Not to belabor the point (much), the HoDinkee travel clock makes a mockery of the website’s pretend ethics and, crucially, its taste. It reveals the pretentious exploitation of their readers in all its non-glory. Ben’s Boyz won’t make that mistake again. But even online censorship can’t unmake this one.

UPDATE: Hodinkee’s COO has responded to the criticism of their Eight-Day Travel Clock in a “Note to Readers.” Click here to read our analysis.

7 thoughts on “HoDinkee Travel Clock Jumps the Shark”

  1. Man that was a long drawn out scene. Kids today would never wait that long. They would turn the channel………….turn the channel?

    1. When there were so few channels that turning the channel would put you in front of something equally turgid.

  2. Wait, this was real? I read the page yesterday after it was pointed out in the comments and the advertorial was so poncy with over the top gushing that I was certain this was a spoof. I may not be a total horological fanboi, but who gets exited over such a prosaic device, even when they were relevant, which was presumably before the invention of the wake-up call or clock radio? Their pride in the unnoticeable sans serif font was particularly hilarious. They really prattled on about that. The audio file of the alarm was hyped up, and I expected some rich brassy chime. It sounds like a playing card hitting a fan blade. I’m also stupefied by why they put little swivel turn screws on the back but insist on a loose winding key for the sucker owner to lose. The black color choice, which might as well be pebbled GM dash plastic, does not look expensive at all even if is vegetable tanned goatskin sewn on by ye olde master craftsmen.

  3. Semi-related, but what I find fascinating is how small the watch-adjacent social circle seems to be. It is remarkable how it’s pretty the same 25-35 people working on and creating quite similar content-as-lifestyle-sales media (Websites, magazines, podcasts). And they all reference the same people! They are all friends with the same people, like, say, Marc Newson or Aziz Ansari. It is like this pocket, Conde Naste adjacent universe they all live in. It ultimately feels so provincial when they all tell you the same 5 things are great.

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