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Communication - Share the Passion!
23rd July 2009 - www.fratellowatches.com
As a watch aficionado, I am very thankful to the initiators of the early online communities like WatchUseek and TimeZone. Not only for providing so much information on watches in an era (late 1990s) that wasn't as advanced as it is now (with all the web 2.0 initiatives like Facebook, LinkedIn and of course watch portals like WorldTempus), but also for the many watch friends it brought.
Post-2003, watch forums have been popping up like mushrooms and everybody seems to have his/her own preferences. Besides the giants mentioned before, there are several low-profile forums focused on just a few or even one single brand. The advantage of these smaller communities is that the crowd knows each other, laid back tone of voice and fewer rules than at the larger watch communities. However, a new member can easily think he ended up in a digital Cheers bar ("where everybody knows your name."). Also, the downside of a smaller watch community is that the learning curve becomes less and less steep after a while. Discussions will probably end-up in joking around instead of watch content. Content is king, but you will need enough traffic to keep it alive and interesting.
One of the watch communities that have gained great respect amongst collectors and aficionados is the German based R-L-X forum, also known as 'Das Rolex Forum'. Although German based, there are a few subforums available in English, so everybody is able to participate in this community. There is a lot of knowledge in this forum, and the tone of voice is very friendly. It is actually so friendly, that it seems that a lot of members have become personal friends. Looking in their Get-ToGether subforum, you'll see that there are almost monthly meetings across all of (mainly) Germany and Austria.
I think that R-L-X left off where the famous Paneristi community ended. The Paneristi forums have been on-line for quite some years now, and it is a great community, but it seems that technology-wise, they didn't improve. There is only little interaction on building a b knowledge base and just minor efforts to keep up with new technology and web applications. However, if you are interested in Panerai watches, it is definitely the place to start. Regardless of your preference for certain watch brands or types (dive-/pilot-/military watches etc.), our common interest in them enables us to create great platforms to share knowledge and even more important, share our passion with each other. Since those first days at the online watch communities, I have made great friends throughout the years. Not only people in my own country, but from all around the globe. Wherever I go in the world, there seems to be always another watch aficionado in my network of watch friends who offers me a coffee, beer or even diner. I think this is the best part of being a watch nut, sharing passion with a lot of (different) people. I can't imagine collecting watches would be as fun as it is now without sharing the passion through online communities!