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  • Writer's picturePhilip Dashiell

watch gang Review - black subscription, 6-month update!

Updated: Jul 24, 2019

Wrist-shot of the Melbourne Hawthorne Chronograph, paired with a minimalist, hematite, beaded bracelet, designed by Aurum Brothers
Melbourne Hawthorne Chronograph - Watch Gang, January Black Subscription Watch

The month of January marked my six month anniversary with the Watch Gang, monthly, mystery watch subscription service. I initially joined, on a lark, to see if their algorhithim could truly be an accurate selector of personal watch styles. Having collected timepieces for over 25 years, I know, in actuality, that no one person or algorhythm, will know my style preference better than me. And for that reason, I opted for the mid-level subscription, at $99 per month, surmising that the quality level of the watches received, should at least meet my quality expectation of a daily wearer. My vast experience with buying watches has told me, as with most things material, you get what you pay for. And if you buy cheap, you'll usually get cheap. I felt that the watches offered at the Original subscription level of $29, wouldn't consistently meet with my quality expectation, and conversely, for the Platinum subscription cost of $299 per month, at that price, I want to thoroughly research a brand, and make an informed decision, before pulling the trigger. Watch Gang also offers a Centum level program, in which Swiss Made, predominately limited edition pieces are offered, exclusively to members that have purchased previous Centum-level timepieces. The Centum watches are offered a prices north of $1,000. I may look to try a month or two of the Platinum level at some point, and I am currently on waitlisted status for Centum level, so we'll see what the future holds.

I've found that the member satisfaction of the Watch Gang membership, is directly related to the individual expectations of the member. At my monthly Black subscription price of $99, Watch Gang says they will send me a random, mystery timepiece, with a retail value of between $150 - $500. Now, do I really expect that each watch I receive, will meet that reported retail price range? Absolutely not. Watch Gang is running a for profit business, and successful businesses don't give away profit margin of any kind. So, my expectation, is that the true value of the watch that I receive, will be somewhere lower than my $99 subscription cost, after all, that's where Watch Gang's profit margin is. But quality is another matter completely, and I do expect to receive a quality timepiece, that will hold-up during normal wear, without falling apart or experiencing defects. And if Watch Gang, can only occasionally meet the loose framework of my style preferences, I'm good with that too. After all, it is a mystery watch of the month club, and there are only so many vendor deals that can be negotiated each month, for the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of members participating in the subscriptions each month.

So, how has Watch Gang done at this six-month mark, with my subscription. Here is the breakdown, with verified retail prices in parenthesis. And as a disclaimer, my personal watch style preference setting, was at sport / diver, for 5 out of the 6 months of my membership.

August 2018 (Month 1) - Out of Order, Casanova ($431.73)

September 2018 (Month 2) - Motor-Time, Hornet ($285.00)

October 2018 (Month 3) - Casio G-Shock ($137.00)

November 2018 (Month 4) - Szanto "Icon Signature Series" Danny Sullivan Chronograph ($295.00)

December 2018 (Month 5) - J. Brackett, Navigli ($345.00)

January 2019 (Month 6) - Melbourne Hawthorne Chronograph ($495.00)

Off the six timepieces received, all are of decent quality, and can suffice, as daily grab and go timepieces. All retail prices listed are from the official websites of each respective brand. And based strictly of the retail pricing on the websites, all timepieces fall within the reported $150 - $500 value range by Watch Gang; although internet searches at any given time, could render different results.

In my opinion, and for my personal experience, most of these six timepieces meet with my quality expectation of a $100 timepiece, and for a mystery subscription service, I'm satisfied with the majority of the pieces that I've received. So for me, the subscription is worth it, to be exposed to brands, and varying styles, that may have never been on my radar previously.

As a business model, Watch Gang is very intriguing. They've been able to tap into the basic pulse of the average watch collector, the anticipation to receive a new timepiece after purchase, which is the real charge of the addiction, err I mean hobby. Add the fact, Watch Gang also created the Watch Gang Exchange, a forum which allows Watch Gang Subscribers to buy, sell, and trade timepieces of all brands, especially those not offered by Watch Gang, the Wheel, which is Watch Gang's buying tool to purchase watches, with the caveat and chance of getting your purchase upgraded to a higher level timepiece,, which offers special sale events for limited quantity timepieces, and various, random, member watch giveaways, and there are certainly enough enticements to keep members engaged, in between their monthly watch subscription arrivals.

In sum, my thoughts on my Watch Gang experience, I wish I would've thought of it first!

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