One of the co-creators of a new iPhone app, William Rohr, better known in the watch community as William Massena, said his involvement in the project was “Bringing the world of watches within reach”.
Launched in August, The Watch Space is an aggregation of English-language watch content created by Mr. Massena, a New York-based watch collector and entrepreneur; Allen Farmelo of watch review site Beyond The Dial; and an unnamed third person.
Massena said the free app was aimed at collectors and novices, and he hoped it would filter out content created by retailers such as Watches of Switzerland or Mr Porter, giving users an unbiased view of the market. “The idea is to be more neutral,” he said.
But he admits it’s a difficult balance because some watch channels that started out as independent review sites are now also retailers. For example, Hodinkee continues to publish a variety of watch-related articles and videos, but it is also an authorized reseller of some of the world’s largest watch brands, including Omega, Tag Heuer, and Breitling.
“We don’t want merchants to promote the watches they are selling,” Mr. Massena said, “but we know there are merchants who write great articles.”
Mr. Massena is also the founder of Massena LAB, a company that partners with independent watchmakers to create limited edition watches. He acknowledged that the idea of a watch content aggregator is not new. Watchville is a similar concept that was retired in 2022. Last fall, review site Watchonista launched an aggregator called Watchicity, which is both an app and a website.
According to Mr. Massena, Watch Space took a year to develop, was completely self-funded, and was downloaded nearly 2,000 times in the first five weeks after launch. (It has no affiliation with Watch Space, a California-based online resale site.)
While advertisers may be attracted to the Watch Space app, “we’re in no rush to promote it,” Mr. Massena said. “If a brand wants to advertise on it, we do banner advertising.”
Mr Massena said the response to viewing content creators – 97 across 105 channels – had been positive, with the only complaints he had received coming from people who were not included.
Netherlands-based online watch magazine Monochrome is participating in the app. “Anything that increases traffic to our website is a good thing,” said Frank Geelen, founder of Monochrome.
While he did not lay out a timetable for the changes, Mr. Massena said he hopes to expand the app to include a watch auction catalog and promote the Substack newsletter for independent writers.
Chris Hall, who writes a watch-themed Substack called The Fourth Wheel, has been discussing integrating his content into the app with Mr. Massena. “The reality of media viewing is that people are not prepared to pay for the media they consume,” Mr Hall said. He added that he has about 1,000 subscribers. “William has a desire to nourish and incubate independent voices, which I think is quite rare in this industry.”
Mr. Massena said one of the reasons he and the other founders got involved in the project was that they wanted to bring the watch collecting community together. “There is a real divide in the watch world,” he said. “Watch Space brings the worlds of news, YouTube and podcasts together.”
“It has to be self-sustaining, but there’s really no ambition to be a new big blog or the next big thing,” he said. “We just want to make sure people can access information about the watch quickly and easily.”