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HODINKEE Inc., Horology Incorporated

While Patek Philippe and others are able to throw seemingly limitless resources behind their brands, we’re yet to see similar amounts supporting the watch media. There are successful magazines – Revo, IW and (of course) QP, for whom I have written previously – but to date, there’s no clear cut online leader.

However, with the announcement of HODINKEE’s merger with Watchville as well as $3.6m of venture capital funding, HODINKEE Inc. may be about to change all that.

The merger places a high profile watch ‘blog aggregator together with probably the most successful watch-related ‘blog on the Internet. I say probably, because ABTW claims it’s the most popular, which may be a metric of success. Watchville, published by North Technologies Inc., was established seemingly overnight by Kevin Rose, and now has over a million interactions a month [Edit: 1.6m user sessions in June 2015]. It pulls together ‘blog posts and articles from about a dozen high profile watch-related sources, allowing the user to read these from a single app.

These “interactions” probably provide a lot more information to North than they do to the ‘blogs that are being aggregated; according to the Privacy Policy, each interaction can be tracked by user, so reading patterns, popularity, trends, etc can all be gathered from these data. It’s like having access to Google Analytics for all your competitor sites (and it’s probably worth a fortune to the right people).

We’ve already seen the “value” that the HODINKEE brand can bring – Loupe System, for example, retails for $525, or $565 if HODINKEE-branded. See also the collaborations with MB&F, Drakes for HODINKEE, and Freemans Sporting Club. There’s no doubt that it is the preeminent ‘site in its field. But the choice of North as a partner is interesting.

Kevin Rose is relatively new on the watch scene. When the Digg co-founder was seen in an episode of Hodinkee’s Talking Watches last November, he gained major #watchnerd points by  showing off a  RESSENCE. While his other project Tiiny appears to have stalled, Watchville has seen thousands of individuals download the app. That the majority of watch ‘sites are now increasingly luxury-focussed probably doesn’t hurt.

This could be the biggest thing to hit vintage and luxury watches since eBay and forums made almost all of us “experts” in collecting, flipping and talking about watches. There are hints (see below) that HODINKEE Inc. may be planning to disrupt the status quo, perhaps providing another concierge/ authentication service (similar to Watch Xchange, for example), but with the global reach that HODINKEE and backer John Mayer can bring.

Anyone investing in vintage watches today has probably already missed the boat, but that’s not stopping everyone from teens to tech firms providing advice.

Everything changes. This is just the beginning.

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