Crown & Caliber Bought By HoDinkee

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HoDinkee X Crown & Caliber

If you’re laboring under the impression that HoDinkee is a journalistic enterprise, boy are you wrong. We’ve pointed this out error many times before, most recently when founder Ben Clymer sold a third of his company to investors, stepping aside for Mr. Pret a Porter to run the show from London. HoDinkee is a watch sales site with sales copy masquerading as independent editorial content. The fact that the newly capitalized company has purchased Crown & Caliber should remove any remaining doubts. According to Mr. Clymer . . .

There has been a category that we’ve long loved but weren’t sure how best to contribute – and that’s pre-owned watches . . . 

This category has seen exponential growth in recent years, and pre-owned platforms such as Chrono24 and Watchbox for example already exist to service that category. We considered, as we are wont to do, should we go ahead and make our own version of a platform like that?

With that thought in mind, we looked around the room at each other and said, “No, we don’t need to create something from scratch because there’s already someone out there doing a pretty damn good job at it.” I’m referring to our friends over at Crown & Caliber.

Ben Clymer Hodinkee, that bought Crown & Caliber

According to HoDinkee’s founder, the new owners decided to buy Crown & Caliber because “no one handles pre-owned with the integrity and customer-first perspective that Crown & Caliber does.” Which will come as news to Chrono24 and Watchbox. And Shopworn, Authentic Watches and yes even eBay (with their Authenticity Guarantee).

What Does That Mean for You? Mr. Clymer asks himself. “You will be able to use your Crown & Caliber trade-in credit to make purchases in the HODINKEE Shop,” he answers. It also means HoDinkee’s current editorial policy – “there’s no such thing as a bad watch” – continues unabated. Full throttle in fact.

Crown & Caliber founder and CEO Hamilton Powell

Over at Crown & Caliber, CEO and founder Hamilton Powell asks himself the same question. “Over time, we are excited to update you on ways we are focused on making the watch world better by investing in products and enhancing the customer experience to inspire today’s watch enthusiasts – from novice to seasoned collector.”

Mr. Powell’s statement tells us nothing – other than the fact that Mr. Clymer’s horological home has joined his friend in the realm of the gainfully unemployed. Crown & Caliber’s FAQ’s page gives us better insight: “HODINKEE and Crown & Caliber will be further integrated to create the watch industry’s leading content and commerce platform.”

 

Synergy!

In other words, bean counters (i.e., HoDinkee’s investors) are now in charge of both companies’ futures. Keep in mind that “integration” is another word for “synergy” which is another word for cost cutting (“operational optimization”) which is no friend to corporate culture. HoDinkee’s editorial ethos (such as it isn’t) will be completely subsumed by its reinforced sales focus.

As with any investor-lead business, growth is goal number one. With Crown & Caliber under wing and authorized dealer status for 33 brands, HoDinkee’s investors will be looking squeeze every last drop of money from the big Ho’s readers before flipping the resulting sales machine or offering an IPO.

HoDinkee sales copy for pre-owned JLC

Meanwhile, HoDinkee’s “hand picked” pre-owned selection reveals that the website separates itself from the herd by providing extensive descriptions on the watch for sale. No byline provided, strangely. The difference between HoDinkee editorial and the sales copy? None. What does that tell you?

8 COMMENTS

  1. Wait, HoDinkee didn’t already sell used watches? Were they actually writing about them before they were hocking them?
    I finally saw their thing in my inbox entitled “HODINKEE Is Getting Into Pre-Owned Watches. What Does That Mean for You?”
    Well it doesn’t mean a thing for me, except maybe more emails that I don’t read, but the phrase “getting into … watches” really needs to be verboten.

    • From what I saw it was mostly vintage stuff in smaller volume. Now they will be full-on flipping late model Rolexes like every other bozo out there. All while no mention of the C.D. Peacock lawsuit.

      • This sounds correct. The previous used goods were distinctive decades-old treasures, not off-lease trade-ins. And good call on a prime example of a hot topic they won’t be touching.

  2. It will be interesting to see if this costs them some of their AD relationships like it did Govberg/Watchbox.

    https://usa.watchpro.com/exclusive-richemont-will-withdraw-all-its-watch-brands-from-govberg-jewelers-in-2020/

    Getting into watch sales totally destroyed the content of HoDinkee, but, I have to say some of their HoDinkee editions were not bad (some definitely have been). I think the HoDinkee Heuer Autavia is one of the best looking Heuer 02 movement watches (mainly for doing a good job of robbing the past), and I recently got the California dial HoDinkee Sistem51 (which interestingly can be purchased directly from Swatch instead of having to deal with HoDinkee).

    But the pre-owned watch sales and insurance stuff is just really commoditized business where nobody with a brain is going to pay a HoDinkee premium. Going to be tough for the PE guys.

  3. I think this blog should branch out to include other areas where people and companies have proven successful, and expound on how that’s all terrible and …. lacking .. integrity?

    Right, that.

    Hodinkee became successful because it provided content people wanted. And services. Ben is a smart dude and everybody won. Who lost on Hodinkee’s success? Nobody. Readers got content, shoppers got products, everybody got what they came for.

    What would you have them do instead, free blog dude? Is the lesson here that “integrity” is measured by the lack of economic merit? Being unable to get paid for ones work? That hating on success equals being better than them?

    Still reading this blog just because it is fascinating to observe such a richly illustrated example of haters gonna hate, in progress. Thumbs up.

    • Those of who is who hate hypocrisy love the truth.

      Hodinkee doesn’t tell the truth about watches. That’s their prerogative. Their business model. It has earned its hard working founder millions. But don’t expect me to approve of their editorial content based on that success.

      It is my considered opinion that a critical voice is healthy for the industry and its consumers. It keeps people honest and (should) inspire them to higher standards. Am I wrong?

    • You sound like someone that thinks they understand the free market because they used their socialist Trump (started it) and Biden (not going to let a fake Republican outdo the Democrats on handing out checks) welfare checks to pay above retail for a Rolex and maybe buy some GameStop at $400.

      One of the reasons that the free market works is competition. This site is competing against HoDinkee by offering a superior product. Smart business people find underserved markets. A watch site with editorial integrity is addressing a much more aunderserved market than the Rolex flipping that HoDinkee is chasing.

  4. There is nothing wrong with earning money. There is something wrong with earning money AND deceiving others. This is the reason why I am very critical about some companies/products and not others – do not get me going on some KS bullshit watch brands, which are masters at this game of swindling. When you put media – such as blogs – into this corporate mechanism, well, it all becomes more muddy, especially as there is (or should be) some ethics of journalism involved.

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