Cara Barrett’s latest Hodinkee screed (All Watches Should Be Unisex – And Here’s Why) calls for horological androgyny. “Gender-free timepieces would make women feel more included in what has typically been a dude-driven industry and hobby.” Down in the comments section, SIMP’s cooed “you go girl!” Less simpathetic readers told her to STFU and GTFO with all that gender-erasing Commie talk. Ms. Barrett promptly shut the f up and got the f out – and returned to hype her new Parchie kid’s watch . . .
True story. Ms. Barrett has created her own line of children’s watches. She sees an unserved market that I don’t: herself. Would you believe her pre-adolescent self?
Ms. Barrett claims Parchie is the name of her imaginary friend from when she was three years old. I can’t remember being three years old; I find this story too cute by half.
Parchie is some kind of anthropomorphized seal of approval. Its coronavirus-shaped head-for-a-body has suction cup hands. He/she/it they/them wears a watch on its right wrist. This genderless mascot also possesses a Rachel Dolezal-like ability to change colors. The feet oppose each other, so it can’t even walk like an Egyptian.
Beyond gender stereotyped design and marketing, what is Ms. Barrett’s gripe against the current crop of kid’s watches? They’re plastic! Parchie is made of metal!
I take umbrage with this “selling point.” Plastic is a huge field with many watch-worthy variations. While there are soft, brittle, degrading plastics, there are also tough, durable formulations. How about we call these literally time-tested plastics “engineered polymers”? Or take a page from MontBlanc’s pen marketing division and label them “precious resins.”
Ms. Barrett believes metal is oh-so-necessary – even if it’s aluminum (that may well be inferior to a good plastic case in terms of durability). You have to trust that the Parchie watch case is metal, because it’s colored. Anodized, coated with PVD or painted? Unspecified. I know! Let’s pretend it’s recycled!
Metal vs. plastic is a contrived distinction. There are plenty of great children’s plastic-cased watches from Casio, Timex, Flik Flak, etc. It’s the practical and economical choice. Sure, but how do you make your kids’ watch stand out from the crowd? Pigeonhole the competition. Ta-da, best in class!
The 32mm Parchie watch has a colorful, metal case, a useless fixed bezel and a child-sized “hook & loop” band (what normal people call velcro, despite the trademark holder wishing you wouldn’t). Presumably little hands can work buckles, but they’re the weak link that breaks first. The buckles that is.
Ms. Barrett’s website calls the Parchie watch band a NATO. A two-piece Velcro – I mean hook & loop band – is in no way a NATO strap. A NATO has a buckle, three loops and one piece strap of excess length (the underbelly portion). I may be petty to call her out on that, but there’s more . . .
The Parchie is water resistant to 30m. That’s the lowest possible rating: “splash-proof.” It’s common knowledge among the watch crowd that 30m water resistance is roughly equal to no water resistance whatsoever. Somehow, the Parchie website didn’t get the memo:
Can I swim with Parchie?
Yes! All Parchie watches are water resistant up to 30 meters (100 feet). This means you can swim, bathe, shower, and wash your hands, no problem! Just don’t go scuba diving 🙂
The Southern Methodist University Art History major and ex-Sotheby’s associate cataloger has been at Hodinkee for years. I don’t think this is a mistake. It’s blatant dishonesty: misrepresenting a $50 quartz watch that can’t compete on anything other than marketing.
For comparison, the Timex Kids My First Outdoors Watch has everything the Parchie has except for color blocking for clashy children’s tastes. It’s available on Amazon for $18.49 (no commission on any links).
The Timex For Tots is made of “alloy” – which probably means pot metal, diecast zinc or something at least slightly more durable than aluminum. Timex is honest about their gateway watch’s water resistance. It “withstands splashes or brief immersion in water, but not suitable for swimming or bathing.”
Ditch the metal case and Casio’s $35 LRW-200H gives young ‘uns a date function and real deal 100m water resistance. Or dress up a bit with a smaller 31mm version of the Timex Weekender. Indiglo’s push-button illumination is enticing (even to Gen Z) and the love of lume rarely gets outgrown.
Never mind. The Parchie watch – “perfect for every wrist” – has over four thousand Instagram followers. I imagine they’re mainly Hodinkee lackeys. A demographic that’s about to get larger. “For now you can buy [Ms. Barrett’s watch] on parchiepal.com — and soon you’ll see them in the HODINKEE Shop.” Of course.
Children don’t buy children’s watches. (There’s an old gag about what’s sold in a gift shop: things you wouldn’t buy for yourself.) Ms. Barrett is attempting to carve out a niche in a crowded market by marketing a mislabeled watch to virtue-signaling Hodinkee fanboys. Not girls. Boys.
There’s gender and there’s agenda. Deep diving the splash-proof Parchie, it’s easy to see that fighting gender stereotypes isn’t Ms. Barrett’s primary goal. It’s milking Hodinkee’s sheeple with an inferior product, regardless of how they identify.