Since there are basically forums and online communities for just about anything, there are of course also forums on watches. The best known forums are perhaps TimeZone and WatchUseek. They are the places you will probably end-up visiting first when you are doing research or when you want to ask something about a certain watch.
How does it work?
A forum can be owned by just one watch enthusiast who felt the need to have his own forum, but also by a company that is specialized in operating large-scale online communities and making them commercially attractive for brands to advertise. And anything in between, of course. Some forums started out as a one-man show and grew out to be a platform owned and operated by a professional organization.
Regardless of the type of ownership of the forum, a forum lives on its community. Active members, who are comfortable, involved, and committed enough to interact – on a daily basis – on these forums. Providing answers to questions of those new to watches, finding themselves involved in heated discussions about the authenticity of vintage watches, or just sharing beautiful pictures of their timepieces.
Without traffic of active members, a forum has no existence. It drives on the enthusiastic volunteers who participate and contribute their knowledge and time to the forum. WatchUseek with over 2 million visits per month is probably the best example of how something that started as a one-man show quickly grew to become the biggest watch forum worldwide. The ease of use and the friendliness of other participants are critical elements to grow a sustainable community.
Most watch forums consist of a number of sub-forums or, better said, categories. A generic forum for generic watch questions, discussing novelties or topics that are not really brand specific. Then, most watch forums have brand specific categories: a Rolex forum, Omega forum, Seiko forum, Patek Philippe forum, and so on. In these categories, you will find topics regarding specific brands. Some forums focus on entry-level brands or brands up to – let’s say – the level of Rolex, IWC, Breitling, and Omega.
Other forums are specialized in brands that are considered to be “haute horlogerie”, like Patek Philippe, A. Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and so on. Any new post will result in a ‘thread’, so what you will see when clicking a forum name is an index with all threads inside that (sub)forum. One thread can consist of only one post, while others can be a never-ending story of dozens of pages. Most forum software indicates how many posts are inside a thread and, also important, the date of the (last) posts.
Most forums require you to register in order to be able to participate. However, as security is always a big issue when it comes to expensive things, the forums allow you to use a nickname so you are ‘anonymous’ to the outside world.
Do’s and Don’ts
So, now that you know what keeps a forum alive, it might be time to participate yourself as well. Besides the big international platforms mentioned, you will also find a few local initiatives in your own language (other than English). Besides being able to ask questions and read interesting topics on watches, it is also about fun.
Some do’s and don’ts on watch forums:
– Be a good sport, introduce yourself;
– Keep note of the date of the original thread or last posts inside a thread, don’t ‘up’ (most forums sort their threads on the last post date) really old treads without a good reason;
– Credit other people’s work if you are going to quote their text or use their images;
– Make sure to be as clear as possible when asking questions about a watch, preferable with a photo;
– Get an account somewhere (e.g. Photobucket) to host your photos, most of them provide you with links per picture that you can copy/paste on a forum in order to show them;
– Read the guidelines before you start participating, some forums have strict rules in posting links to other websites for example;
– Use net etiquette, although it is quite informal and you don’t have to be a poet, make sure your posts are readable and friendly;
– Most important, have fun.
– Don’t ask questions you could have easily answered yourself using Google or the forum search functionality;
– Don’t ‘talk’ to others in a way you wouldn’t do in real life; this behaviour has a name: keyboard warriors;
– Don’t make statements that you aren’t 100% sure about, a lot of readers take all things written for ‘truth’;
– Don’t be afraid to correct yourself;
– Don’t use a forum to insult a brand or talk bad about them without valid reasons or arguments (considered to contact the brand yourself and vent your frustration?).
That’s said, there are many more do’s and don’ts you could apply, but we feel these are the most important ones. If you have more tips, please use the comments below to add them. We would be more than happy to read yours.