One of the co-founders of a new iPhone app, William Rohr, better known in the watch world as William Massena, said he became involved in the project to “put the watch world under your fingertips.”
The Watch Space, which was released in August, is an English-language aggregation of watch content created by Mr. Massena, a New York watch collector and entrepreneur; Allen Farmelo of the watch review site Beyond The Dial; and a third person who has not been named.
Mr. Massena said that the app, which is free, was aimed at both collectors and newcomers, and that he hoped it would give users an unbiased view of the market by filtering out content created by retailers such as Watches of Switzerland or Mr Porter. “The idea is to be more neutral,” he said.
But he admitted that was a difficult balance because some watch channels that began as independent review sites are now also retailers. Hodinkee, for example, continues to post a variety of watch-related articles and videos, but it also is an authorized dealer of some of the world’s largest watch brands, including Omega, TAG Heuer and Breitling.
“We don’t want to have a merchant pushing the watches they’re selling,” Mr. Massena said, “but we understand that you have merchants that write great articles.”
Mr. Massena — who also is the founder of Massena LAB, which collaborates with independent watchmakers on limited editions — acknowledged that the idea of a watch content aggregator is not new. Watchville, a similar concept, was retired in 2022. And last fall, the review website Watchonista released an aggregator, called Watchicity, as both an app and a website.
According to Mr. Massena, the Watch Space took a year to develop, is self-funded and had almost 2,000 downloads in the first five weeks after release. (It has no ties to Watch Space, an online resale site based in California.)
While advertisers may be attracted to the Watch Space app, “we’re not in a rush to promote it,” Mr. Massena said. “If a brand wants to advertise on it, we will take banner ads.”
Mr. Massena said that the response from watch content creators — 97 creators with 105 channels — had been positive and that the only complaints he had received were from some who had not been included.
Monochrome, an online watch magazine based in the Netherlands, is participating in the app. “Anything that drives traffic to our website is a good thing,” said Frank Geelen, Monochrome’s founder.
While he doesn’t have a timeline for the changes, Mr. Massena said he wants to expand the app to include watch auction catalogs and to promote Substack newsletters from independent writers.
Chris Hall, who writes a watch-themed Substack called The Fourth Wheel, has been talking with Mr. Massena about integrating his content into the app. “The state of the watch media is such that people aren’t prepared to pay for the media they consume,” said Mr. Hall, who added that he has around 1,000 subscribers. “William has it in him to want to nourish and incubate independent voices, and I think that’s pretty rare in this business.”
Mr. Massena said one of the reasons he and the other founders took on the project was because they want to bring watch collecting communities together. “The watch world is really divided,” he said. “The Watch Space brings the news, YouTube and podcasting universes together.”
“It has to be self-sustaining, but there’s really no ambition of becoming a new big blog or the next big thing,” he said. “We just want to make sure people can quickly and easily access information about watches.”