We announced this project on the 23rd of September. Over a week of build-up before yesterday’s release, we could feel the excitement growing in the community, but we never could have anticipated the result. The Fratello × NOMOS Glashütte Zürich Weltzeit “The Hague” Edition sold out in under ten seconds, which immediately presented us with a burning question: where do we go from here?

I must admit, of the three limited-edition projects Fratello pursued this year, it was this one that held in store the fewest surprises. I suppose knowing NOMOS and the brand’s way of working inside out largely accounts for that, but, in truth, I was just supremely confident that the design was not just attractive, but a welcome addition to the Zürich Weltzeit’s story. The fact that this watch looks so different and yet so comfortable alongside the existing Weltzeit models (core and special editions included) gives me a lot of pleasure. And, I hope from the bottom of my heart, that all 25 new owners feel the same.

Nomos Zürich Weltzeit Fratello LE.003

The elephant in the room

While the reception of the product was almost universally positive, one thing raised eyebrows: the limitation of 25 pieces. There have been quite a few, shall we say, unsavory suggestions as to why the watch was limited to just 25 units, but the truth is far duller than the nefarious machinations suggested.

It’s been a fantastic year for us in the e-commerce sector but we are still finding our feet in this new guise. We feel a great responsibility to our readers to only pursue interesting and genuine collaborations that come from the heart. These projects really aren’t about the business side of things as much as they are love letters to the industry. That said, effectively balancing our own fiscal abilities, a brand’s production capacities, the brand’s retailers’ sentiments, and our audience’s desires is tricky.

However, difficult as it is that is no reason for us not to try and figure out a way around all of those hurdles the next time we do something. We’re working hard on remodeling how we approach these collaborations. We want to place the community’s desires front and center. Hopefully, you will all stick around to see what we’ve got brewing. I’m generally allergic to people claiming they are going to upend the watchmaking industry and “disrupt” the established order of things so I won’t go that far, but I will say what we’ve got cooking is a lot closer to doing those things than any other project or brand I’ve heard using those words with abandon.

Sign up now

And so how are we going to make sure the Fratelli get their hands on the watches we design? We’re going to listen. If you were sad you missed out on the Fratello × NOMOS Glashütte Zürich Weltzeit “The Hague” Edition sign up to the “waiting list” here. The exact same model will not be returning, but I’m working on a fitting follow-up that I hope will scratch the itch of anyone that missed out this time. If you’re interested in that, then let us know your email address and we will be in touch in due course to ensure you have the chance to pick up whatever we serve up for round two.

The Fratelli

The best team in the industry, standing on Rob’s head.

A happy ending and a new chapter beginning

But enough of the serious “what is to come” stuff; let’s talk about the watch of the moment one more time before it sails off into the sunset. As someone who consciously regards themselves as a “product-focused buyer”, a panda-dialed NOMOS Weltzeit was always something I believed in. But I would be lying if I said the story behind a watch is irrelevant to me. Sometimes I try desperately (in private) to pretend it isn’t, before listening to myself gush about why my limited edition Everest Skydive Breitling Aerospace is cool, how the Synchron Vs. Doxa military stand-off makes all of those pieces fascinating, potentially historically significant buys, or why the WH&T LCF888 chronograph was the best value project we’ve seen in the last five years (and nobody seemed to care).

Stories matter. The people and the relationships behind watches do too. It’s hard to believe that sometimes we get to be those people and unspeakably humbling that you, our valued readers, the Fratelli, validate us in that role. Of course, I must also thank NOMOS Glashütte, the whole company, from top to bottom, for not just the faith shown in Fratello to bring this project to a worldwide audience and drive it toward success, but also in me personally and for sticking with me since I took up my current role in the media. Every time I look down at the Weltzeit on my wrist, I’ll be grateful for that.

Me auditioning for GQ. Failing, as per.

Genuineness matters

I know there’s a lot of disingenuous stuff written on the pages of watch blogs and online watch magazines. I know, because when I was younger and greener I was tasked with writing a lot of it. It used to make me actively sad to have to work with brands I didn’t believe in or talk diplomatically about products I simply didn’t like.

Nomos Zürich Weltzeit Fratello LE

You could vilify me here for having had a choice in the matter. You’d be right. I did have a choice. I could have walked away from the industry I so desperately wanted to shape in some meaningful way and take up another job to pay the bills. As you know, I didn’t do that. Why? Because I believed I could make it through to the other side. Somewhere inside my head, there was a voice saying that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. That voice turned out to be right.

Timo, Bert, Bilbo Baggins, Nacho, RJ, Lex, G2, and Dave all played their part in making this dream become a reality.

Behind the curtain

In the past, the most common way to generate income was through advertising or sponsored content. Now, there are myriad ways to execute a sponsored content deal, some more useful to the reader than others. Sometimes, online titles will take copy directly from brands (you know the stuff because it reads like a press release). We never do that. Sometimes, brands talk up a product they don’t believe in. We don’t do that either. Why am I telling you this now? Because as Fratello continues to grow and establish itself as an industry influencer (forgive me if that term sounds despicably modern), we’re less reliant on running sponsored content.

Nomos Zürich Weltzeit Fratello LE LS.012

They obviously don’t teach you how to eat an ice cream at Kraken Kollege…

In fact, for the past couple of years now, we’ve been scaling back the amount of sponsored content on the site significantly. We refuse to work with any brand in that capacity if we wouldn’t feature the brand on the site for free. And, most importantly, we insist that we retain complete editorial control over what we write. What that means is, we almost always work with brands we like because the brands we don’t like don’t want to work with us (because we are scary and mean).

Freedom

And so while it might seem like a constant stream of positivity a lot of the time, that’s because we’re pre-vetting the brands and the models before the news reaches you and deciding what we feel is exciting. We are seeking out the stories and novelties we hope will energize our community. And, most importantly of all, we’re pursuing collaborative partnerships with the brands we adore whenever we feel we have something worthwhile to add to the industry. This new business model means that sponsored content is no longer necessary. It means we can retain our voice. Perhaps best of all, it means our activities within the industry can broaden.

Nomos Zürich Weltzeit Fratello LE

Special projects mean progress

It is thanks to special projects like this one with NOMOS Glashütte that Fratello is able to grow in this way. Transitioning from a pure media outlet to a media/eCommerce hybrid is always going to bring with it criticisms and accusations of unbridled nepotism. We can’t prevent that entirely, but we can do our best to be honest and transparent about the “whys” behind the “whats”.

These projects are labors of love. We pour our passion into them for months, sometimes years to bring something to life that we hope puts smiles on the faces of our followers. To say that our community’s interest and engagement are the most important things to us is no understatement. Yes, this is our career, but it is our hobby first, and were we not the lucky few able to work with wonderful brands that help us bring our whimsies into the world, we would still be here, on these pages, willing the team onward.

Thank you

And so I want to thank you all for helping us get to this point. Thank you for believing in the projects we’ve brought to life this year (especially this NOMOS Glashütte Weltzeit The Hague LE). And thank you for sticking around as we continue to grow and develop together as the best, most welcoming watch-loving community in the world.

We are listening. We are reading the comments on the site and IG and we will take your feelings on board. I do believe we can change the industry, but by we, I mean all of us. It is about Fratello and the Fratelli. We can’t do it without you, so I hope you’ll stick around for the ride. And just to say thanks for bearing with us, we’ll be back soon with something kind of special (especially for you)…