Hodinkee’s hybrid model of independent publisher and watch retailer came under fire this week after it launched a $5,900 limited edition travel clock.
Only 96 of the clocks were made, which use refurbished vintage Pontifa 7320 8-day travel clock movements, and are sold out; a handy $566,400 of sales in the midst of the pandemic.
Hodinkee’s always lively community had a mixed reaction to the product.
While at least 96 customers clearly love it and there were many supportive comments, there was an Instagram pile-in that caused Hodinkee to suspend comments.
That poured fuel on a fire that might have fizzled out, prompting Hodinkee chief operating officer Eneuri Acosta to admit that the decision to suspend comments had been wrong.
“That was a mistake. We decided to turn off the comments not because we wanted to silence your feedback or avoid negative comments. In fact, we’ve left comments open on every post since, and you haven’t held back! We have also developed a really robust community platform right here on this site where you can freely leave your comments and feedback as you please! That includes criticism of the product and us, at times. This is unlike most other media sites in this industry and those adjacent, and we love that you engage with it,” Mr Acosta says in an article explaining the making of the travel clock and Hodinkee’s handling of the backlash.
The explanatory article allowed readers to wade in again with comments on the clock, the suspension of comments on Instagram, the explanation and the perennial question of whether Hodinkee’s expansion into retail has harmed its editorial credibility.
“We all understand what Hodinkee was trying to achieve. In itself there is nothing wrong with making money, and Hodinkee does need to fund the free content it keeps churning. And turning off comments on Instagram when faced with mockery is understandable,” writes Hodinkee subscriber Codik.
“My advice, if you want it, is to be candid,” Cokik continues. “You made a travel clock because it’s cool and to make money. You priced it high, and it worked. You’re feelings were hurt when you got mocked for it and reacted accordingly. Yes, it’s not the best finished travel clock, nor does it have the best movement. It pales in comparison to an Atmos or a L’Epee clock. But you’ve proven that you can do it, and that the Hodinkee brand can support this product. Well done for building that brand, and I wish you the best improving on your offering.”
The storm is likely to have done no harm for Hodinkee, and there are as many supporters joining the comment stream about the travel clock as detractors. A trending argument across social media is also great for visibility and does little or no brand damage.
“Hodinkee please keep doing what you guys think is best. The crowd isn’t always right,” says commentator Devin.SM.