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 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!
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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 work. Have 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.