Finding our critical voice on Instagram

“We stuck in La La Land …
I don’t know who is who
We got the same f*ckin’ watch”

– Jay-Z, Moonlight

From watch forums to Instagram, I’ve been fascinated recently by the online growth and development of the watch community and its culture. All growth is fundamentally a series of trade-offs, and that certainly applies to where we are today. More so than the forums, Instagram makes interacting with and discovering new watches faster and easier. Where the forums were a sit-down, slow reading exercise, Instagram is always at our fingertips and easy to scroll through. On the flip side, I don’t think of Instagram as a very educational platform, nor do I believe it’s as conducive to critical dialogue and debate as the forums, or other social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit) for that matter.

However, I am sensing the prevailing winds of Instagram are slowly changing.

The recent post by @watch_1505 highlights a serious step in the direction of critical engagement from the watch community on Instagram. His post questioned the possibility of jury bias in the GPHG awards, the reality of pay-to-play, and the institution’s overall integrity. It was a real, honest question – one that came across well balanced, as neither vitriol nor a personal attack. It’s clear the intention was not to set fires and burn bridges. It caused enough of an impact that we even saw a PR response provided by a GPHG jury member.

It was an overall eye-opening moment for this one reason: there’s a place for critical, investigative commentary and analysis on Instagram.

Many, myself included, have been cynical of Instagram’s ability to mobilize the watch community beyond wrist pics. Yet, it’s clear now that the allure of product pictures alone is slowly fading for some. From my experience on the platform, collectors and enthusiasts are collectively commenting more, reading more comment sections, and searching for more profiles with exceptionally good captions – none of this is “incidental.” For many of us, Instagram is slowing down and finding its depth.

In our coming to age on Instagram, I hope we can collectively find a voice that strikes a balance between emojis and trolling. I don’t believe either do very much to further watch community culture— the former is lazy and the latter is too easily dismissed as malicious nonsense. We need to build something that fills the huge void between mainstream watch journalism and critically-pointed meme pages. Journalism sits way too close to product, and meme pages often make great points but inherently lack depth or constructive input.

Based on recent history, neither journalism or meme pages are going to belly up to the bar in the same way @watch_1505 did. This middle ground is only left for collectors and enthusiasts to create. Maybe together we’ll figure out a way to build a better La La Land …

Another day with the beast,

Leave a comment

Or join the discussion on Instagram