Discover more from ScrewDownCrown
SDC Weekly 18; OnlyWatch drama; AkriviA x Louis Vuitton watch revealed
Watch collector's matrix revisited, Nobel Peace Prize, a Rembrandt painting discovered, obsolete Apple watch and flying boats!
Martial artist and actor Bruce Lee on pushing yourself:
"Don't fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail."
Source: Striking Thoughts
Hello folks 👋
Last week’s SDC Weekly was the most popular edition yet, and thank you to all the new subscribers who have joined since. Following last week’s edition, we’ve all seen the new watch, too - saucy reactions, to say the least.
This week is a longer edition, so let’s crack on, shall we?
AkriviA x LV watch revealed
I probably should have unfollowed the #Akrivia hashtag on Instagram… my feed for the past 2 days has been regurgitating images of this watch maybe 70% of the time! That said, it’s finally revealed, and boy are the opinions divided.
Rather than discuss the watch itself, I will discuss the psychology of how people are sharing their opinions about the watch, and why that matters more. I thought this was more interesting because I observed a huge difference in opinions share publicly on Instagram and so on, versus what people say in private.
When you help other people, it feels good - but there are two types of “feels” you might have:
You feel good because you helped them - and even when they are not aware it was you, the good vibes you feel are just because you helped. This could be putting in a good word for another collector with your AD, and then soon after, they get a call for that watch they really wanted. You know what happened, they have no idea, but it makes you happy.
You feel good and people express gratitude towards you - these are the good vibes of your help being acknowledged. This could be someone reaching out to you for help with getting a watch, and then you actually helping them, resulting in them getting the watch they wanted; you feel good, they are grateful to you, and everyone feels lovely.
The reason 2 is important to distinguish, is because it plays a role in how people think, and what they openly share or admit (and equally, what they do not!).
The truth about human behaviour is this: it is good for us if other people think you like them. Imagine everyone on earth is either your ally, enemy, or neutral.
When it is time to choose who you want to help, it seems obvious that you will help the people who like you (instead of the others) - that’s because it is good for you, if your supporters are doing well.
This means it also in other people’s interests to persuade you that they like you. Other people doing something for you which elicits your gratitude … is typically an easy way for people to let you know they like you! This could be a whole post on its own, but hopefully you get the gist of it.
The point I was getting to, is that many people are being very calculated about the opinions they share publicly about this watch. Rexhep is a young watchmaker, and this LV collaboration is only 10 watches. He will make other watches, and many collectors are trying to secure an allocation, even if it happens in 10-20 years. Hell, how about some full disclosure: I hope to get one myself. So why would I say bad things about this watch when I want to signal to Rexhep / Akrivia that I am “an ally” not “an enemy”?
Thing is… I am also known for having no filter. So yeah, I don’t like how this watch looks, and I think the smoky dial hiding the movement is hiding one of Rexhep’s most revered skills (as @einlangefan said on Instagram). This is not to say that I am not happy for the Akrivia team, and their new source of growth, fame and success… the watch just isn’t for me. I’m also a nobody, and so… we can move on.
Many ‘insta famous’ collectors and industry players would never dare to be so open… just because they are in the game of signalling. My good friend C shared this message on WhatsApp which I thought was perfect:
“Had we not known it was made by Rexhep, it would probably have been laughed out on pure aesthetics alone, regardless of finishing.
Everyone is being polite because its Rexhep and he’s a nice genius… but the overall response is massively subdued/underwhelming. Justifiably so.
Bless Rexhep and his wallet, and wish Jean A luck and fair wind on the lucky ten who get to buy this watch… I am just happy that I wont be jealous of them.”
Well said, to be honest, could not say it better, so I quoted him instead. No hate here, and pleased for everyone involved with the success of the launch. I am just posting a few unimportant opinions, and yeah: To Annabelle & Rexhep - I still want a watch so don’t delete me from the list!
The one noteworthy thing in the past week, was the outcry on social media about OnlyWatch (OW) and the lack of transparency regarding their finances.
⚠️Note: I put this section together over the weekend, and as luck would have it… on Monday, SJX Watches published a post on the same topic, including what seems to be newly released information from OW! Instead of just deleting this section, I felt compelled to leave it in - but fair warning, there may be no new information if you’ve followed this very closely already.
This topic bifurcated opinions because many who know the founder (Luc Pettavino) promoted the fact he was a lovely guy, and argued against his critics with statements about how he would never besmirch his son’s name to pursue monetary gains. Others were slightly hostile in their criticism, insinuating OW were a fraudulent organisation (without actual proof)1.
Recognising that I am no expert and may easily have missed something… Let’s take a look at the Only Project (OP) website - this is the foundation funded by OW. Their two main beneficiaries (over ~90% of funding) are SQY Therapeutics and Synthena. Pascal Paul Ferré is the Co-founder and Chairman at SQY Therapeutics, and he is a board member at Synthena. He is also the father of a boy with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, as well as a chartered accountant and statutory auditor in France. Interestingly,
Luc Pettavino, the OW founder, is a 57.5% shareholder in SQY Therapeutics, and he is Chairman of the Board at Synthena - unsure about his shareholding, but you can read more here (in French). [SJX article states Luc owns about 15% - so be aware the information in the image below may be out of date]
Neither of these men’s roles in these companies is problematic or worrying as a standalone fact - but when there is a lack of clear and independently audited financial records, it can sometimes create cause for concern.
OP have a few other beneficiaries who receive under ~10% of their overall funding, but in total, here’s what they raised to date (in €EUR):
That’s about €100m in total. OP account for, between 2013 and 2023, only €43,479,000. Here’s a breakdown which goes into more detail. It is unclear whether all the OW money is supposed to end up in OP, or if they do other things with it. Here’s a response they shared publicly on the use of funds for running costs:
1% of the money for operating expenses - and "the rest is pro bono”. 1% makes sense if the rest is free because anyone who knows charitable organisations will know that it costs more than 1% to run these things.
But then, where is the rest of the money? €100m less €43,479,000 as stated above, leaves about €56m unaccounted for, at least publicly. It may just be cash in hand on their books, in which case, no harm done? [SJX article suggests this is on the books]
In the U.K, for example, a charitable organisation’s relevant reports are openly available for anyone to see. Under Monégasque law, this was not always the case… but what’s even worse is according to a story post on 5th October 2023, OW seemingly did not even have properly certified accounts to begin with - despite having started in 2005!
Some collectors have argued there was no need to '“waste money on audits” but the same people never ask why “waste money on gala events for watch influencers”… to me, keeping good records does not seem like a waste, but this ain’t my charity.
Turns out, there were some legal changes recently in Monaco… such as:
Foundations are required to appoint an auditor who must be chosen from among the chartered accountants registered on the roll of the Order established by Law No. 1.231 of 12 July 2000 on the professions of chartered accountant and chartered accountant, in accordance with the majority and quorum rules defined by the foundation's statutes or, failing that, by a majority of the directors.
While it may have seemed hostile when folks on social media began insinuating that OW was up to no good … t turns out they did have a point. As a result of these actions, it seems OW will “present” reports to the public and “appoint” an auditor.
OW is possibly the last remaining “wholesome” watch event. Luc (OW founder) has been described by a few people I’ve spoken with, as “an arrogant pr*ck” - and by others as “a passionate and selfless man”. I don’t know the guy, but regardless of what people think of him personally… the fact remains, he started something fantastic, for a good cause. That’s what matters most.
Some brands even use the event as an annual launchpad for their new collections, as F.P. Journe for example, has done for many years now. That makes OW an exciting and interesting event in the horological calendar. It would be a huge shame, and loss to the watch community, if it was being used as front for illegal activity.
Hopefully the additional detail people crave will be out soon enough, and it reveals Luc and his mate are doing a good job, running it all honestly, and the funds are being allocated responsibly towards the good cause… SJX seems to think this is coming soon too:
The audited financial of Only Watch are on the way, and till then, some scepticism is warranted, but the details provided by the organisation so far are certainly reassuring.
Until we know for sure, I think it’s best to remain optimistic and positive, but also recognise that calling for accountability is never a negative thing at all. Sure, it is possible that people had ulterior motives, but I am focused on the outcome here - more transparency. The folks who argue this was “pointless”, are either extremely naïve, or inexcusably stupid.
Revisiting the collector’s matrix
…the matrix or the list tells you nothing about what else you could be interested in, because they are necessarily limited in scope to things we've already identified as deserving of our interest and attention. There are both known unknowns, and unknown unknowns, that this framework does not account for, which is fine, but it shouldn't be the case that as collectors we zoom into the matrix and forget to be open to a broader range of experiences.
The entire idea behind the matrix, was to provide a framework to assist in decision-making. Sometimes we can’t objectively describe how we feel, or put into words our precise reasoning when it comes to emotional purchases like watches … this matrix acts as a filter for moments of weakness, if nothing else.
Ghariyaan’s point, however, is well made - and may apply to many collectors out there, depending on your collecting style. To some, a serendipitous acquisition is not exactly a bad thing at all. To others, such purchases are seen as a distraction from their goals.
Take this Berneron watch, for example… I knew nothing about it, until I saw it last week. Two things caught my attention; the fact that it seemed to be really thin, and the fact that the movement was, aesthetically speaking, interesting to me.
I have my own version of the watch matrix, and this isn’t on the list, but I have since reached out to the brand and received more information such as pricing details and technical specs… and this may end up on my chart… or it may not. At this stage I just needed more information to decide whether or not this watch deserved further attention.
Just remember, the matrix represents your view of the watches you might want, and this should be an evolving thing, not a static one.
This brings me to the key takeaway, which is pretty much exactly what Ghariyaan said we should not do:
[don’t] zoom into the matrix and forget to be open to a broader range of experiences
Absolutely right. This might be best described by calling our own personal watch matrix ‘a snapshot of preferences’ which is probably worth updating at least twice a year, if not more. The more I think about it, anyone reading this newsletter has more than just a passing interest in watches - you’ve already dived into the deep end, and are probably up to speed on almost all recently released watches. You probably also keep track of social media, which can reveal any new or interesting releases you might have missed through the usual channels. That’s exactly how I stumbled upon the watch I showed above - and believe it or not, a day after I reached out to Berneron, the same watch popped up in a WhatsApp group chat, and people were singing its praises and equally excited about it. So had I missed it on social media, it would probably have come across my screen eventually.
What’s missing then? Perhaps, the “hidden gems”. Ghariyaan, always talks about Vintage Grand Seiko, and its horological importance which goes underappreciated. Others such as Ross Povey will tell you to look at vintage Tudor. There are others still, who will discuss the history of Russian watchmaking at length, and say it deserves more attention. Everyone’s got their thing.
There are several such rabbit holes which remain unexplored by the vast majority of mainstream collectors… and maybe you are ok with that. If, however, you find yourself bored with collecting, or you are unexcited by novelties you’ve been seeing for a while, perhaps you should consider exploring some of these niches. Just remember, the matrix represents your view of the watches you might want, and this should be an evolving thing, not a static one.
Either way, once you find something which excites you, make sure you put it onto your matrix and ensure you get your priorities straight!
📌 Links of interest
🎨 A painting valued at $15,000 turned out to be made by… Rembrandt. It could now sell for $18 million. “The Adoration of the Kings” has been virtually unseen since the 1950s, when it first came to light.
🤩 Imprisoned Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, and the announcement commenced with the words “Woman, Life, Freedom” in Farsi — the slogan of the demonstrations in Iran.
💸 “It may be one of the most important companies of our era.” So I ask you: Have you even heard of Anduril? I found myself increasingly intrigued by the excitement around the company in the VC community. Learn more about Anduril via this link, this link, or this podcast - and more about US defense here.
🎉 As Swatch makes disposable models of Blancpain watches… Timex has unveiled what it describes as the world’s first circular programme for watches.
🍀 After 123 years of recommending restaurants to road trippers, the Michelin Guide is driving into the hotel world.
💀 Apple will no longer fix the $17,000 gold Apple Watch.
🗡️ Oxford was the medieval homicide capital of England because of… its murderous students.
⌛ Maybe think twice before handing over all your cash to some hottie to invest. A recent study found that mutual funds managed by people with unattractive facial features outperformed those managed by total smoke shows by more than 2% annually
Have you ever wondered what happens if a black hole gets destroyed? Me neither, until I was forced (by my kid) to watch a documentary about black holes. Fascinating stuff. The image below seems mildly interesting at first, but that documentary revealed how this image was nearly 20 years in the making:
The universe is truly mind blowing. I hope you find the time to watch that documentary; if you have even a passing interest in astrophysics, global project management, coordination of a big event spanning the entire globe, or how genius scientists engage in ‘thinking sessions’…. I am sure you’ll enjoy it.
Until next time!
Bonus links: Flying Boats!
Navier’s “N30” hydrofoiling craft that is 10x more efficient than traditional fossil fuel powered boats. Watch the video!
Arc is another electric boat company which raised a $70M Series B to commercialise its water-sport vehicle.
Regent is an electric seaglider company recently announced its $60M Series A funding. The seaglider operates a few meters off the ground and couples the speed of air flight with the operational ease of boating. How insane is this thing (wait until 40 seconds into the video):
If you enjoyed this post, please do me the HUGE favor of simply clicking the LIKE button below, thank you!