Dear Readers:

If you’re a user of the Watchville app, you may have noticed that content from Fratello Watches is no longer available. We feel compelled to offer you an explanation on this development and while we’re at it, let’s talk a little about the watch blog “industry” as well.

When Watchville was introduced earlier this year, it seemed to be a real boon to watch blogs that, up until that point, lacked a convenient method of publishing their content on a simple, easy to use “app”. Like in most industries, when one “company”, or blog in this case, joins a trend, most others jump in as well.  We’ve been no different. If you’ve used Watchville, it’s convenient and aside from small start-up bugs (who doesn’t have those!?) in the beginning, it’s stable and “just works”. Furthermore, at least through now, it’s been a free offering from the creator/owner of the app, Kevin Rose. So far, if you’re following along, you’re probably wondering, as the user, what’s the issue?

We’ve seen a couple things happen over the last several months. First and foremost, Watchville merged with Hodinkee. We have the utmost respect for both entities and what they have brought, and continue, to bring to the watch world as far as content and creativity. Frankly, as one of the earliest watch blogs on the planet, Fratello Watches has grown up alongside Hodinkee and despite the fact that we compete, there’s a serious element of mutual respect from both sides: at least that’s how we see it. However, we do compete and while we think we appeal to a slightly different audience than Hodinkee, our site supports itself on the basis of great content and advertising.

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We have not and never will publish anything written by our current team of 6 that kowtows to a current or potential advertiser, but we do depend on advertising to support the expenses of our site. What we’ve noticed with Watchville is that while there are counts of “views” on our articles as seen on Watchville’s physical website, the reality is that we don’t see much of the traffic on this website when the app is used.  This causes a couple concerns. First, we actually do look at how our articles perform and tailor future content based on the results. Second, an incorrect, or underreported, count of our traffic makes discussions with potential advertisers far less effective. In effect, Watchville, if used in app form, is monopolizing a decent amount of traffic for our site and for other participating sites. Watchville started to take aboard advertisers as well, based on content of others (and Hodinkee). A clever business model, but something we can hardly justify to our own advertisers who do not see their ads shown in our content on Watchville.

Thanks to you, our readers, the traffic on our site continues to grow. We will almost double the numbers this year compared to 2014. We think and hope that’s due to our increasing quantity and quality of content.  Our features such as Speedy Tuesday, Watch Reviews, #TBT, and Accessories have gained a loyal following. We are a group of real watch enthusiasts and we do our best to communicate with you by offering candid, insightful views of interesting timepieces and accessories: no matter the price. We limit our coverage on press releases because, frankly, this content is available everywhere and republishing these stories limits our connection to you. The connection piece is key: we enjoy the personal “1:1” relationship that we have with so many of our readers via e-mail, the Disqus commenting system we use and other platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Fratello Watches feels it is this responsiveness and approachability that truly sets us apart from many other sites. Alongside our focus on outreach, you can expect us to continue to rely on non-stock photos and to put in the hard work to show you unique angles and settings for the pieces we discuss.

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In the meantime, and as always, feel free to contact us directly or to leave a comment below.  Above all, enjoy the reading.

Timely Regards,

The Fratello Watches Team

Fratello

Fratello

Contributor at Fratello Watches
This article was contributed by one of our readers, guest contributors or has been written by a number of our Fratello Watches team members.
Fratello
  • Mateusz

    Keep up great work!

  • Andrew Carrier

    I’m confused. Watchville is really nothing more than a restricted RSS reader. Why don’t you simply supply a curtailed RSS feed (i.e. with headline and standfirst) to them? When I read Fratello via regular RSS reader (I use Feedly), I have to click through to the site to read the full text of any article I’m interested in. That’s as it should be. But if you’re giving away the full content on Watchville, there’s no motivation to visit the site and, yes, you’ll miss out on traffic.

    • @andrew_carrier:disqus, well, what it does is they scrape the article and photos from your website and host them locally. That is a slightly different approach than RSS if I am not mistaken. For RSS feeds we can manage this ourselves by setting a limited number of words and/or image(s) to be previewed and some custom made text link. We’ve noticed that aBlogToWatch has a different type of feed, where you have to click, but this was custom made by WV for them I guess. Then there is still the advertising on WV based on other websites’ content (profit isn’t shared) which makes it a bit complicated in the end. So, we are happy that you use Feedly and noticed a lot of people do the same!

      • Andrew Carrier

        Interesting. I didn’t realise that. Well, in any case, you’re much better out of it. Apart from selling advertising off the back of *your* content and keeping all the proceeds, Watchville (which, let’s face it, is basically Hodinkee – your competitor) is also gaining access to all sorts of valuable user data and readership patterns. I never understood why any of the other watch blogs stayed on the app. Why would you want to provide all that content for free?

        Keep up the good work. I enjoy Fratello!

        • Ben Clymer

          Just to be clear, we do not run any ads within anyone else’s content, and we have offered to even embed all publisher’s own ad codes into their content so they don’t miss out on a single impression. We are always happy to work with people with any concerns, just as we did with Ablogtowatch. It’s a shame that people assume the worst, when we have a full time group of people here that actually work to make Watchville the best experience for all users, and all sources around the clock.

      • WC

        aBlogtoWatch only has the first paragraph of their article included with a link to their site for the rest…

        • Ariel Adams

          I thank RJ and the Fratello team for bringing up this important matter that in many ways does effect the experience for readers who love reading about watches on a regular basis who tend to consumer content on aBlogtoWatch, this site, an others.

          First of all, we fully support our good friends Fratello watches for doing what is necessary to protect their content and the future of their businesses. These decisions might look unfriendly or selfish to the audience when it can take away from their ability to quickly read content, but we’ve tried to make the best decision given complicated circumstances.

          What I try to tell a lot of people is that places like aBlogtoWatch and Fratello (among others) begin with the premise that a few super watch nerds have literally engineered their lives to writing about and covering the watch industry, and somehow tired to make a living from it. We all have a slightly different approach to this but at the end of the day the best sites exist because advertisers understand the value of displaying their messages along side high-integrity editorial whose goal is to inform and educate the consumer.

          That means we rely on advertising to keep our dreams going and our relationship with advertisers is very specific as a means to share message of products and services we endorse along side the content we produce. We believe that it is all about being transparent and clear with the audience so that they know what is advertising and what is not.

          When our content is taken off of our sites or stripped of its advertising we and our advertisers lose the value in it. We operate on a very simple agreement with our readers – they get cool free content and in exchange they view adverting material next to it and it is relevant to them perhaps they can click to learn more or investigate those products for further study.

          Watchville isn’t so much a partnership as a company that uses our content by default unless we say otherwise. We don’t exactly get asked and I am sure they feel it is a privilege to be included in their stream. No doubt when this happens we are flattered, but we are also cognizant that in order for us to retain value in our content we need to ensure it is being displayed properly. They feel that we win because more people are theoretically viewing our content but at the end of the day that doesn’t really help us. More so, it attracts our current audience to simply view our content in another, which unfortunately in this situation harms rather than helps us.

          Watchville further does not allow us to display most of our own advertising the way we offer it to advertisers. The majority of high-quality websites sell advertising directly to advertisers and the tools Watchville currently uses when they reformat our content to display ads is simply for Google Adwords, which is an ad network and not related to our current advertising deals. Thus, for all intents and purposes if a watch website allows for their content to be on Watchville there is no change of being able to benefit our advertising partners. The business side of blogging is rapidly evolving but it is still a challenge to offer great content and to run a business at the same time – the latter of which is absolutely necessary because without resources none of this fun watch blogging happens.

          Thus, the fairest option we can give content aggregators such as Watchville is it have just a small snippet of our content which then links to our full content on our website. Otherwise it just isn’t fair, and fairness is the measure I go by when I make decisions about how aBlogtoWatch interacts with its colleagues, competitors, and compatriots.

          • WC

            Appreciate the reply. I actually meant to indicate that you guys had a great solution to Watchville’s advertising issue. I was hoping Fratello could do something similar, as it seems like a good short term solution. In the long term, I would hope Watchville/Hidinkee can develop a more elegant solution!

          • Tom

            Apologies for bringing up an older topic. Came across this from Perpetuelle’s announcement that they are leaving Wachville as well.

            While I completely get the entire business model and advertising helps to fund the ongoing existence of the blog, at the end of the day isn’t it about the users? Prior to Watchville, I only knew of a few watch blogs – Hodinkee, Fratello (mainly from the #SpeedyTuesday phenomenon) and Worn and Wound. I consider myself to be more than a casual enthusiast. Through Watchville, I learned of and read great content from Monochrome, ABlogtoWatch, Perpetuelle, Time + Tide. Sadly most have pulled out of Watchville.

            You claim that these decisions may look unfriendly and selfish to the audience. They absolutely are unfriendly and selfish to us, your readers and users. My guess is that most users, like myself, don’t have time to bounce around several different watch blogs to see what’s new. Watchville provides a great solution to this and exposes blogs and content that some may have never know to exist. You claim that it hurts advertising, which I totally get but there are many other ways to generate traffic and ad dollars through social media, retargeting, increasing user engagement, offering a better mobile experience. If your loyal readers are leaving your website to read your content on Watchville, shouldn’t you stop and ask why first?

            Quite frankly, all this seems like a knee-jerk reaction to perhaps larger issues and a turn off to users. This is where Hodinkee differentiates itself by having a good mobile experience, offering engaging content and innovating like Hodinkee Live during SIHH 2016. I applaud Hodinkee for putting users first and getting what’s important.

            I’ll continue to use Watchville and read Hodinkee. Hopefully I’ll re-discover content from Fratello (still love #SpeedyTuesday), Monochrome, Perpetuelle in the near future.

  • Don’t understand why _anyone_ would partner with Watchville anyway to be quite honest. Everyone knows there are probably 4 maybe 5 at most sites worth reading in the watch enthusiast world – do we really need an aggregator?

    • Andrew Carrier

      Agreed. But – I’m embarrassed to admit – I have become rather hooked on setting my watches to their atomic clock!

      • Actually that IS a cool feature – you’re right! 🙂

      • jadakiss

        Why not just use your phone? It shows the time based on numerous atomic clocks at the Naval observatory.

      • Alex Martinez

        Lol. I’m so happy to read this… I thought I was the only one!

    • Ben Clymer

      What I think you might forget is that the VAST majority of watch lovers are casual enthusiasts, not die-hards. Watchville was created for those people, the people that may never have heard of half of the blogs in WV, and those who read about watches just a few times per week or month. It is very different for insiders who know all the players already, and the response to WV from both readers and the industry has been nothing but positive. And over 100,000 people tend to agree 🙂

      Hope all is well, Jerome.

      • I get that but how do they even discover WV? They can’t – what they’ll do is google it and come up with Hodinkee and ABTW, to name several few. Then maybe they’ll follow a couple pages or groups on FB (desktop/mobile). I’m convinced that the great majority of watch lovers don’t even get their watch info from watch-related blogs – they likely get it from AskMen, Coolhunting, GearPatrol, or similar wide-reaching media. I could be wrong…

        • WC

          Well, one way or another over 100,000 people found Watchville (for starters, the site has received mainstream press attention). I’d think of it as an opportunity, not a threat – they’ve assembled a large audience of watch lovers for you to tap into. Rather than running away, I’d try to find a way to tap that audience in a way that benefits you. For starters, you might try aBlogtoWatch’s solution and then go from there! The worst thing you can do is not be involved in the solution.

  • K Patel

    Good decision! I dont use Watchville for the content. I’d much rather read it directly or via an RSS feed. In my opinion scraping content isn’t an above board approach.

    Besides the only thing i find useful on watchville is the clock 😛

    Keep at it Fratello Team!!

  • Luciano Oliveira

    The impact on advertising revenue was clearly there since day 1, so I was surprised to find so many blogs and website to join Watchville (my assumption was that they would be doing some revenue sharing with the content publishers).
    Anyway, I just use the app to set my watches. I keep my RSS feeds to Fratello Watches (and other interesting sources).

  • WC

    Well that sucks – I really rely on Watchville to aggregate the best content. Couple ideas for a solution:

    – Immediate Solution – Do what aBlogtoWatch does and only include the first paragraph of your article and a link to your website to read the rest. Works like a charm for aBlogtoWatch – the article leads in browser launched within the app. Pretty seamless experience.

    – Longer-Term Solution. – Negotiate with Watchville so that they can have their ads in the main section, and each blog can include their ads in their article within the Watchville environment.

    • Ariel Adams

      Another solution is to just display the original article pages (without reformatting them) using something like iframe technology so that if a user wants to use an aggregator they still see the original page and layout from the content producer’s website but they can view it through an aggregator but that the publisher (aBlogtoWatch or Fratello) retains the full benefit of having a user view their full website.

      Thanks for everyone being part of this really important conversation and thanks again to Fratello for understanding that the community should be aware of it.

      • Emir Ulkumen

        I am a watch enthusiast and fan of all hodinkee, fratello, ablogtowatch, etc.

        Frankly speaking, from a watch lover and a collector point of view, I do not like watchville intrusion on hodinkee and seeing this each unique watch experts had a rising friction on each other, mainly clash of interests!

        I appreciate each and every one of their thoughts on particular watch expertise and therefore I will simply exclude watchville out of the equation and enter every site separately. I mean, how many real trusted websites are there?

        Somethings should really remain authentic and manual as just they are…

        Aren’t we all in love with really unique. manual and authentic designs and calibers after all?

      • Hi Ariel, I appreciate your content (and that from other sources like Fratello W.) but this would completely remove the purpose of WV.

        I use WV because most Watch blogs have VERY poor reading experiences. And I’m not only talking about the mobile versions.

        I open articles like this very particular one withe the “reader” function on Safari. This completely takes away the ads (which mostly don’t bother me unless they pop-up and hide the content) but gives me a clean an nice to read typography.

        Now, ABW has decent layout with a large font and nice formatting. MOST watch blogs don’t. That’s why I use WV in combination with a RSS reader.

        In short: Give me a better content experience and I will support your ads.

        For WV: I wish there would be a shared income plan for publishers that keeps the (healthy) competition alive. The Hodinkee team should think about that.

  • Ben Clymer

    Hi RJ,

    First and foremost, I just wanted to say that I (and we – all at HODINKEE) respect your decision. On a personal level, I wish it weren’t the case but that’s mostly because I love what you guys do and it’ll be a shame that Watchville users won’t get to experience your content any more.

    To answer a few of your points – we see Watchville as an amazing way to share ALL content from ALL sources around the web in a beautiful, clean, mobile friendly way. Frankly speaking, many watch websites have poor to very poor mobile experiences, and at Watchville, we take the time to format each and every source, sometimes even manually, so that it is clean and beautiful for the end user. We even have someone on staff here that watches every single article from every single sources (“competitors”? not how we see things) to make sure the best possible images are pulled for the excerpts, and all videos and links render properly. Again, we do this not because we are selling ads against anyone’s content (we do not – there are ZERO ads going to us within anyone else’s content, just ads on the main navigation page). What’s more is we have clearly communicated to all sources that we are happy to even drop in your own ad code to the feed so that whoever readers your stories sees your ads and you don’t miss an impression.

    As for views withing WV – this is something that even we at HODINKEE struggle with. One has to remember that the views published on WV are just that, how many views from one source among many. We chose to publish the number of views for one simple reason – we want great content to get the recognition it deserves, no matter who it’s from. We don’t need to do that, but we do, because we want the credit to go where it should. The Watchville views is one tiny fraction of the eyes that hit HODINKEE, just as I’m sure is the case for Fratello, and anyone who understands the web should clearly see that. It is just one metric, so it should not effect much at all.

    Anyway, you know I’m a long time fan of Fratello and all that you do. We’ll miss you on Watchville but we know that you’ll do great things no matter where your stories are broadcast. Looking forward to seeing you guys in Geneva and #originalschnitzerlcrew4lyfe.

    Ben Clymer
    Editorial Director, HODINKEE

  • Jadakiss

    Kevin Rose is the master of making money off content that he did not produce.

  • Boris

    RJ, I never paid attention to Watchville. I read your blog a lot, and Hodinkee. Since I get to see a lot of stuff in Switzerland as I am there quite often, and due to my own watchbusiness I get my hands on a lot of vintage stuff as well, I am not that much in need to read on blogs. I pretty much own every published Mondani book, and most other books on other brands and watchtypes. Not missing much. Anyhow, for me it is fine to read Fratello on my laptop. My eyes are too bad to read it on a cellphone to begin with. Keep up the good work. Cheers.

  • Mark Miller

    Andrew Carrier, Ben Clymer and Ariel Adams, this one is for the three of you. I’m a relative noob when it comes to watch blogs. I’ve only started reading them roughly the last six months. I’ve only found out about Fratello Watches, Hodinkee and ablogtowatch because of Watchville. I’m one of the few (or many depending on how you look at it) that is not on Facebook or Instagram for I find them to be a waste of time. When you are a noob, your only ways of researching the blogs out there are Google (which gives you more junk than intelligence) or an app for your smartphone (iPhone in my case). I’ve been using Watchville and I have a great respect for the opinions shared on Fratello, Hodinkee and ABTW. As I find a blog that I respect, I either download their app (as in the case of Hodinkee) or set up a direct Safari link on my home page (as in the case of Fratello and ABTW). The reasons I do this are because I know you guys get whatever revenue you make from advertising and that you need me to visit the sites directly. I never knew if Watchville would ever paraphrase an article, so I would “go direct to the horse’s mouth” as it were to read the article directly. I understand Fratello’s decision and back it, but I do feel for the other noobs that won’t find you otherwise. Regards

  • Judah_Rosenthal

    Use feedly and get them all. Then bounce to the full site to read the whole thing. No problem.

  • Tristan

    Well I found Fratello through Watchville, so I guess it has some postivites. However, I have been wondering about this very issue – how does a blog generate advertising revenue if people use the app rather than visiting the site? I guess they don’t.
    Although I’ll miss the opportunity to find your #TBT articles on the go, I fully support your stand. Keep up the good work.