Hands-On With Watchonista: Volume 01
Taking a look at our new print edition in the metal…Er, in the paper.
Watchonista’s first print edition is here! Filled with fantastic original photographs and stories. And the best part? We won't be taking your money for it. As Watchonista: Volume 01 is the watch magazine you can’t buy.
Today, we’re here to review this unique publication in the same way we’d provide insight into a limited edition, hard-to-get timepiece.
Admittedly, we’re biased. Watchonista: Volume 01 is our baby. But like any creative types, we are often our own toughest critics. We agonized over words and layouts. We worried over what stories would make the cut. And on the eve of the print edition’s launch at COUTURE 2021 in Las Vegas, we anxiously awaited the reception Watchonista: Volume 01 would receive.
Now that the magazine has been out in the world for about a month, we’re ready to share our thoughts on the touch, feel, and experience of reading Watchonista: Volume 01.
Watchonista has always done things a little differently. We don’t sell or buy watches, we just revel in their glory. And we like to share our insights with fellow enthusiasts and collectors. Being founded by collectors in 2009, watches are in our blood.
It would be easy to simply say that watchonista.com is the connected watch version to Watchonista: Volume 01’s handcrafted movement, but they actually complement each other. Although they provide different sensory experiences, both are satisfying.
As an online entity, Watchonista can report on new watch releases, industry news, and trends, as they happen. But we also try to provide context for these stories through articles that explore the history and lifestyle interests of the community (we like to live the good life, and this often includes good food, drink, and bon voyages). Having a print version that you can flip through at a leisurely pace allows the reader to dive deeper into these details.
The most important difference, though, is having a physical object to hold in your hands. When describing haute horology, we are always talking about the finishings. Watchonista: Volume 01 offers a luxurious tactile experience. It is bound in heavy stock, with a mix of matte and sheen on the cover image. It feels so much more permanent than a magazine you’d find on a newsstand. It feels like something you’d want to keep on your coffee table for a long time.
Inside, the pages feel like they are printed on a mix of paper stock. But this is actually an illusion, as we've mixed the type of coating that's applied to each page. This is a very thoughtful design touch because certain types of paper absorb ink in different ways. This means that all the images (shot almost exclusively by Watchonista’s in-house photographers) get the best chance to pop.
Touch is very important in print. The mix of coatings (soft touch and glossy) also provides an almost ASMR response as you turn the pages. An added bonus is that Watchonista: Volume 01 also smells terrific.
The same attention to materials has gone into the layout of Watchonista: Volume 01. You start with the traditional introductory letters from the Watchonista team. These missives explain the raison d’être behind the print edition. I particularly loved the rousing and emotional letters from my colleagues Marco Gabella and Josh Shanks.
Having a strong point of view is crucial for any story. It’s always been integral to Watchonista’s integrity that we don’t sell anything — and this extends to the print version. It’s complimentary, but you can only source it through our retail partners and select brand boutiques.
The idea is to foster a spirit of community. The members of this family are not a monolith — we all come from different backgrounds and have different talents and interests. Watches unite, and meeting other enthusiasts through boutiques is another way to share all of our passions. Less altruistically, collectors can’t resist a little exclusivity.
What makes Watchonista: Volume 01 feel like a fun meet-up is a section called The Lounge. In it, our contributors share their expertise in everything from sexy cigars to wonderful whiskey. Again, the words and pictures allow you to live it up vicariously (and to help you plan for some real-life socializing). You will leave The Lounge feeling a little more worldly and a little more connected.
And even if you’ve read through Watchonista: Volume 01 from cover to cover, you can access additional material through QR codes found throughout the magazine. It is, as we say in other hands-on reviews, an excellent value proposition.
A Digital Surprise
Is it perfect? Publishing purists may find things like QR codes disruptive to the art direction and a little jarring, but anything new is going to have to go through a stage of experimentation. The online community is having fun with it, though, sharing images of Watchonista: Volume 01 on social media. These videos and snapshots show the magazine paired with favorite timepieces and some stunning locations around the world.
After finally sending Watchonista: Volume 01 to press and having a few weeks to not obsess about it, the creative team has been dreaming up even more stories to share (and different ways to tell them), including feedback from readers who want to see more. So rest assured, Volume 02 is already in the works.
(Photography by Kat Shoulders)