Sunday, October 04, 2009

Review: Why I won't be buying a new Toy Watch any time soon

A few weeks ago a couple of press releases announcing the launch of the new Toy Watch store in London landed in my inbox, and they reminded me that I had a long overdue public service announcement post up my sleeve.

I hadn't worn a watch for years: since cellphones became ubiquitous, and my last watch's battery died I haven't got round to replacing it. But, as I'm trying to be both less wedded to my phone and more punctual, my father gave me a watch for Christmas last year.

As he isn't a Rockefeller or a Rothschild, I asked for a rather lovely looking black mens Toy Watch Chrono Sport. I'd wanted one for ages: they aren't super expensive, (although at often £1-200+ not negligible either) and I liked the chunky, plastic styling. I can't afford a Panerai quite yet, and I liked the irreverent humour behind the brand.

Here's the thing: I know watches. Amongst my other past lives, I have been a magazine watches editor, spending hours with the people who design, construct and sell chronographs. In this case, I made a very considered decision: I liked the idea of what I thought was a well-designed everyday watch, which made a clever joke about the world of prestige horology, replicating the style of luxury timepieces in plastic.

So far so good. My Toy Watch arrived in a very big white box, containing a black leather presentation box, which again made me chuckle at the riff on high end watches.

I wasn't laughing quite so much when one of the adjustment stems fell out of the casing later that week. When the second stem fell out a few weeks later I had lost my sense of humour.

Unfortunately I was back in America at this point, travelling around California with no fixed address. There was no opportunity to get it sent back or mended.

Then the luminous triangle marker for '12' fell off the face and rattled around the casing. At this point I rang Toy Watch's customer service department where they informed me that, without a receipt, the only option available to me was to PAY for the repairs myself. It was a gift so I didn't really want to tell my father it had started falling apart. (And, frankly, it's professionally embarrassing to have bought a dead duck.)

Wonderful: so I am supposed to pay to restore their substandard product to working order. I decided not to throw good money after bad, and so am left with a falling apart watch. (Did I mention that the strap started fraying within a month of purchase?)

So the joke was on me, who should have known better: what I got was the worst kind of fashion watch, seemingly of no better quality than the timepieces you can buy for a few dollars on any market stall in Asia, ratcheted up into a sub 'designer' buy by a flashy presentation box, celebrity placement and the stupidity of people like myself.

If you want a decent watch with a sense of humour that isn't going to have parts dropping off within weeks of purchase, buy a Swatch, I implore you, rather than a Toy Watch whose presentation box, I suspect, costs more to manufacture than the watch itself. There's no more sport in this watch than there is in me.