Hello. My name is John, and I have a watch problem.
Look, I’ve always called watches “boys’ jewelry.” Even in our less binary age, women get to have a lot of great jewelry, and the more expensive it is, the better. Guys get watches. Most men will invest in one or two and wear them forever. But I like variety and have managed to amass a decent collection that spans just about any sartorial occasion. When somebody told me about , at first I thought somebody was just messing with me. For a $100-a-month subscription, WatchGang would send me a mystery watch — worth up to $500 — every month. (Quarterly or on-demand options are also available.) I was hesitant. Was I going to end up with a wardrobe of no-name plastic watches with inflated price tags and no recognizable brand names? What the heck? But I gave it a try.
First off, I should mention that WatchGang has been around since 2016 and has more than 2 million members. 30,000 of them are actively receiving watches from one of the subscription models. They must be doing something right. The real genius of the site is that there are several ways you can choose to shop.
As I mentioned, the Black Tier subscription is $100 a month. For that WatchGang will send the subscriber a watch worth up to $500 on either a monthly, quarterly, or on-demand basis. A more value-priced $50 option is also available (with watches worth up to $150), as is a Platinum Tier version, at $300 (sending watches worth up to $1,500). Best of all, members are automatically entered into a contest to win a Rolex every Friday.
I began my membership by completing a questionnaire that not only asks some rudimentary questions about my life and personal style but then skewed sort of right-brain by asking me to choose from images that would provide some insight into my watch requirements.
“The questionnaire really helps us curate for our customers,” says founder and CEO Matt Gallagher. “We can see that in one year people prefer to spend more time outdoors, but the next year they go out on dates or to concerts, which helps influence what we procure for our members.”
I have to say, I was impressed with the first two models to arrive at my door. The Aeromat Vol de Nuit White Steel chronograph is inspired by the writer and pilot Antoine de St Exupery (author of The Little Prince) and runs on a Seiko quartz movement. It’s a sturdy, handsome watch that looks more expensive than its MSRP $275. It’s the kind of watch I’d want to pair with jeans, a white t-shirt, and a leather jacket, which means I’ll probably be wearing it a lot this fall.
The second is a Spinnaker Limited Edition Hass Fumee Black. This is where WatchGang nailed me. I absolutely love automatic watches, but this one, with diver styling, a stainless case, and a textured brown/black face is sure to become a favorite. It comes with a steel bracelet attached and a dark taupe “NATO” fabric strap as an option. What’s great is that neither of these brands is one that I would necessarily have even looked for before.
Another quick entry into the club is to sign up for WatchText. If you are the kind of guy who likes to get in and out of the store as fast as possible, WatchText is for you. The program offers limited quantity deals on emerging brands, as well as established names like Rolex and Tag Heuer. Provide your mobile phone number, shipping, and payment information. WatchGang sends texts with various watch deals. If you see one you like, hit Instant Checkout and you’re done. (Oh, and yes, you’re still entered into that chance to win a free Rolex every month.) I can be very spontaneous, so I decided this was going to be too dangerous for my wallet.
Of course, you can also just go to the WatchGang Store on the site and buy a watch (how boring): Anybody can shop there, but members do get exclusive pricing. The store features a variety of brands, styles, and prices. Some of the brands aren’t exactly household names, like the newer Italian company Out of Order or the nearly 150-year-old Swiss maker Armand Nicolet; but Tag Heuer, Versus Versace, and Zodiac are also on the menu. Some exclusives are part of a collaboration WatchGang did with Ultimate Fighting Championship (the brand has sponsored four fights so far and has a collaboration with the NFL breaking any minute).
The store also features Grails for Good, a unique fundraising option where for a pre-set donation of $5 to $200, you’ll be awarded 100 to 2,000 entries into a drawing for a high-end collectible watch (at this writing the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, valued at $6,300. Grails has raised $50,000 in two and a half years, with proceeds going to organizations like My Friend’s Place, Autism Speaks, and Wounded Warriors.
If Grails for Good appeals to the gambler in you, you’ll also want to check out WatchGang’s Wheel of Watches. The more you buy, the more credits you build up. Use the credits to add potential watches to the wheel, take a spin and you may win one of the watches you chose, or a Grail from Rolex, Omega, Tag Heuer, etc.
I’ve got to be honest. So far there is very little I’d change. I’m torn about whether I think that the many options for buying on the site are confusing, fun, or just a way to interact with a lot of different guys. Also, as a heads up, WatchGang has a strict no refunds or returns policy, which struck me as a bit off-putting. “It’s a mystery club,” says Gallagher. “If you don’t want to take the risk, you don’t have to, but if you do, we’re asking you to essentially live with what you get. If you don’t like it, we do have a community with like 40,000 people who are actively buying, selling, and trading with each other.”
Risk it! Between the survey and the expert purchasing team at WatchGang, it’s most likely they’re going to send great watches that you’ll really love. You don’t have to do it forever, either! Do it for a year to beef up your watch wardrobe (hey…wouldn’t a gift subscription be a great idea for Dad or a best bud who needs to up his timepiece game?). If you do end up with one or two you don’t like, save the packaging and gift them at holiday-time, birthdays, or Grads-and-Dads season. As for me, I’m heading into fall 2021 showing off a little wrist candy of my own.
- The 13 Best Clothing Subscription Boxes for Men in 2021
- The 9 Best Snowboarding Movies and Documentaries to Add to Your 2021 Watch List
- The 20 Best Books of 2021 For Your Next Read
- Get Up to Speed with Our Comprehensive Dictionary to Motorcycle Slang
- Why You Should Buy Floyd’s Media Console