Sunday, February 26, 2017

Guest Post: A Collector's Guide to Buying Pre Owned Longines Watches

Collecting pre owned Longines watches is a growing hobby in most parts of the western world. Men, particularly, are attracted by the romance and novelty of having a micro-engine on their wrist as both a time-teller and an image statement.

One of the most frustrating aspects of collecting pre owned Longines watches is the number of fakes, frankenwatches and fraudsters one encounters in pursuit of this noble, but increasingly costly, passion.

The comeback of the mechanical watch has drawn out all sorts of insects from under their rocks. The pursuit of one's passion for old timepieces will inevitably lead to numerous encounters with rogue repairers who charge house prices for inferior work, linear descendants of horse thieves who palm off fakes as the real thing, Doctor Frankensteins who create sought-after models from parts of other watches, the usual bevy of shonks, crooks and tricksters out to convince the gullible and the unwary to swipe their well worn credit cards.

In a recent seven day survey and follow-up I completed on the listing of pre owned longines Omega Constellation watches on a major on-line trading site, more than 50 percent of all listings were of watches that were inauthentic in some way - that gives you some idea of what collectors are up against.

Caveat Emptor, rarity and product knowledge steer the purchasing behaviours of astute collectors in any collecting field and these three principles are particularly important when purchasing pre owned longines watches on-line and through bricks and mortar dealers.

Frankenwatches describe the practice of taking parts from different watches of the same calibre series and 'creating' a new or better pedigree of movement. In some countries of Europe they are called 'Wedding' watches. This practice is especially prevalent in middle and higher end timepieces that are most sought-after by collectors.

In tandem with the obvious deception of Frankenwatches, there are a number of other intentional and inadvertent frauds that occur:

1. Housing a different movement in a genuine case or re-dialed model. If you are interested in collecting a particlar brand of watch, get to know the calibre numbers of movements that power particular models. Calibre numbers are different to serial numbers and can best be described as the engine type(similar to cars: eg. 2.5-litre DOHC V6 describing the engine in a current X Type Jaguar). Some calibres of a particular brand are more collectible than others, so it pays to know what's under the bonnet.

2. Using a similar movement series and replacing the part that has the calibre number. This is prevalent in watch brands that have numerous models and where the top line models fetch higher prices that the cheaper models. Often you can tell a fraud of this type through colouration contrasts or newness of the parts that contains the calibre number.

3. Placing a high end dial and movement in the wrong case. Many of the higher end pre owned longines watches have case back numbers that can be checked with serial numbers to see if they match.

4. Replacing worn hands and crowns with non-genuine hands and crowns and claiming the watch is 100 percent authentic. A common problem with many pre owned longines models that reduces the value of the watch. Before buying, build up a library of pictures of watches that you know are genuine and match a prospective purchase against them. On-line forums are a great way to acquire and swap pictures.

5. Badly executed dials and re-dials. Ask for super-sized pictures so you can examine the quality of the printing and also the placement of lettering. A bad re-dial will wipe as much as 30 percent off the value of the watch. Again pictures and the help of other collectors is invaluable in making sure you have an authentic watch.

6. Replacing numerous worn parts in a genuine models with genuine parts. While this is a perfectly acceptable practice, it does indicate that at some stage in the life of the movement it was neglected or damaged. Knowledgeable and pernickety collectors look for signs of colour variation on the movement and often avoid watches that are not of one colour hue.

Look for scratches or gouges on the non-replaced parts, and look for corrosion or other signs of wear and tear. Ask the vendor for a detailed report on the history of servicing of the watch and its current condition. If the vendor cannot supply such information it is better to let the watch go rather than experience the disappointment of acquiring a watch that has suffered abuse in the past and having to deal with the ongoing symptoms of that abuse.

7. Claiming an old warrior is a handsome prince. Many vendors use descriptions like 'minty', '100% authentic', 'very clean', 'this one is a keeper', and so on. Most of these descriptions are useless if not backed up by evidence.

When examining a good quality picture of the watch movement, and always ask for pictures if you are buying on the internet, look for any discolouration of the surfaces of plates and bridges. Look for any signs of corrosion or parts of the watch that do not match in colour, particularly rotor bridges and the part of the watch that contains the calibre or serial numbers. Look for new additions that show themselves by their shininess. These are all indicators of inauthenticity, parts swapping or at least major repairs.

8. Examine the movement for burred screw heads and scrapes and damage to the movement plates or bridges, which are sure signs of inexpert work, or at least indicate the movement was separate from the case for some time before a case was found to match. Checks for surface discoloration on the movement plates, blotches, corrosion, or parts that don't match the rest of the movement patina.

9. Examine the case back to determine whether the watch has had a hard life. Beware of excessive polishing that takes the sharpness away from the edges of the watch case, as that again indicates considerable wear and tear overall and devalues the watch.

10. A watch that has obviously had a hard life indicates carelessness towards its maintenance and irregularity in servicing. Generally speaking, mechanical watches should be serviced every three to five years, and it is not difficult to detect a watch that has been neglected because the signs of neglect are obvious to the naked eye.

Badly discoloured watches with scratches, gouges to the movement, highly polished case backs and inexpertly refinished dials are sure signs of the amateur watchmaker at work and should be avoided. They can also point to a tired old movement jazzed up for sale and marketed with great hyperbole to the unwary Internet shopper.

11. Look carefully at the dial to see if screws have caused minor or major indentations on the dial. This indicates that incorrect or inauthentic screws have been used in the movement.

Look for corrosion on the dial or flakes that have come off the dial. This can indicate that a watch has spent some or all of its life in the tropics and was not serviced as regularly as it should have been. It can also indicate immersion in water.

Watches that are regularly serviced will have their seals replaced at service and should show few signs of moisture having entered the case. Remember rust under a dial cannot be seen and flaky dials can be a sign of hidden problems underneath.

12. Rust cannot generally be removed from watches and at best can be neutralised. A sure sign of neglect is corrosion on or near the threads of the case back or the area where the case back meets the case. These are signs of irregular servicing and signify the possibility of excessive wear of the movement.

Watch collecting is a rewarding past-time for thousands of collectors worldwide. Fortunately they congregate in various forums on the Internet and are generally very happy to share their knowledge and passion for particular brands. Build up and use your knowledge to better determine the value of the watches you collect.

An evenly coloured movement, retaining much of its original sheen and showing signs of regular service demands a higher price and improves its value far better than a poor cousin that has been through the wars.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Candy Crush Effect: How Apps for Boredom Monetized Mobile Addiction


“I’m so bored.”

How many times a week do you utter that phrase? If it’s at least once, you’re in the same boat as roughly 63% of people. And according to the same report that drew that conclusion, how bored you are depends on several factors -- like location and other demographics. But chances are, we all have at least one common outlook on boredom: It can be remedied by the internet.

That often manifests itself via mobile, where 90% of our time is spent on apps. And under the app umbrella, here's how our time is broken down:
Messaging and social: 68%
Entertainment (which includes apps like YouTube): 44%
Gaming: 33%

To add further insight, 70% of that time on mobile social apps is spent consuming media. What do these factors indicate? All in all, we use our mobile devices to stay amused.

App developers are no dummies, either. The most strategic ones know that this boredom can be capitalized to earn revenue. But how does that work? Well, much of it has to do with psychology and -- we hate to say it -- how our brains are wired for addiction. We examined the research done in this area, and tracked down some of the apps that best monetized it.

The Psychology of Boredom

Why We Get Bored

A Chicken-and-Egg Scenario

Despite our use of mobile apps to relieve boredom, that might be what’s causing it in the first place. Researchers at Temple University have found that our increased attachment to mobile devices is making us less patient and more impulsive -- both of which can precede a lower tolerance for lack of stimulation. It’s harder for us to sit still, because the technology is always there for us to check and scroll. And the more we use it, the less time we can spend resisting it.

That’s corroborated by findings of cognitive neuroscientist James Danckert, whose research has led him to think of “boredom as a deficiency in self-regulation,” he explains. “It's a difficulty of engaging with tasks in your environment. The more self-control you have, the less likely you are to be bored.” And what’s another word for a lack of self-control? “Impulsive” -- a trait more of us seem to be experiencing with increased mobile use.

Why We Use Mobile to Alleviate Boredom Anyway

“People will work very hard to relieve boredom,” writes Maggie Koerth-Baker for Scientific American -- which is why, she says, we indulge in impulsive behavior, like binge-eating or other unhealthy activities, in order to alleviate it. But she goes on to explain that the answer to that often lies in novelty, using the example of an educational computer program designed for students with higher boredom levels, which insults the user every time a question is answered incorrectly.

Granted, we don’t spend all of our time on mobile devices being insulted -- despite that common nature of social media -- but it does provide a certain sense of novelty. It’s an instant remedy for inactivity that allows us to consume media, win games, and communicate with others. And our addiction to these devices -- which is rampant enough to have actually earned a name: Nomophobia -- works just like any other. We begin to need more of it in order to be satisfied.

And, in a nutshell, that’s how app developers monetize what they create -- by leveraging our addiction. But which apps did it best? Have a look at our top picks.

3 Apps for Boredom That Became Big Money Makers

1) Tinder 

When Time magazine profiled the founders of Tinder in 2014, author Laura Stampler summarized the dating app flawlessly:

Users are shown photos of nearby potential matches and can swipe right to ‘like’ and left for ‘nope.’ Mutual right swipes result in a match, followed by the prompt to either send a message or ‘keep playing.’ This ‘Keep playing! Keep playing!’ mantra has led to an epidemic of 500 million swipes (and 5 million matches) a day.”

Notice the language Stampler uses here: “Epidemic.” Even if you’re not particularly interested in dating, the swiping becomes addicting -- an inevitability to which I fell victim during my own days of singledom. I found myself swiping while standing on a subway platform, sitting in a waiting room, or even when watching mindless television. It became a way to occupy time, more than it was a way to meet people.

Perhaps that widespread behavior led to the unveiling of Tinder Plus: A paid version of the app with such premium features as being able to go back when you accidentally swiped the wrong way (“Rewind”), or being able to view potential matches outside of a certain local radius (“Passport”). Plus, it gives you the option to go ad-free. But there’s a catch -- Tinder Plus costs twice as much if you’re over 30, which has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

I can see how these features might be appealing, especially when my own swiping increased. Before I deleted the app -- which is a story for another day -- the more I used the it, the less intrigued I was becoming with my potential matches. I was becoming bored. But I was also addicted to it, under the false belief that the more I swiped, the more likely I was to have that boredom alleviated. It aligns with psychology explained above. If I hadn’t deleted the app, my boredom may have motivated me to pay up for the ability to expand my options.

Today, Tinder has 1.7 paid members, illustrating the willingness of people to pay for more novelty.

2) Pokémon GO

When I recently visited a friend out of town, I noticed that she would furiously go about business on her phone whenever we were walking somewhere. “Are you lost?” I asked her, assuming she was looking at a maps app.

“No,” she replied. “It’s Pokémon GO,” a game that allows people to “catch” game characters by traveling to real-life places, and reap the benefits online, via the app. It is, in its way, a form of VR.

I was surprised -- mostly because I thought that the Pokémon GO craze had passed by Halloween, and this visit took place several months later. Was my company that boring? Or had my friend become addicted to a game that she initially began using out of curiosity and boredom?

I wasn’t the only one asking those kinds of questions, which explains why numerous psychology publications set out to explain how our brains process apps like this one. In fact, Internet Gaming Disorder has officially been classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a type of addiction -- one that “prompts a neurological response that influences feelings of pleasure and reward, and the result, in the extreme, is manifested as addictive behavior.”

That aligns with research showing that people more prone to boredom are also more inclined to fall victim to drug and alcohol abuse. And while it could be argued that addiction to a mobile app might not be as severe, it still follows the same psychological process and path of usership -- more is required to reach satisfaction. That could be why the app experienced such monetary success when it began to provide in-app purchases, which ended up accounting for $2.3 million of revenue each day, and totaling $342 million by the end of 2016.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February Social Media News: Weather on Facebook, SNL on Snapchat & More


10 of the Biggest Social Media News Stories This Month

1) The Washington Post starts curating content for Snapchat Discover.

The Washington Post announced it would become Snapchat's first editorial partner to provide breaking news updates on the platform. The Post will publish multiple times per day as headlines break in its print and online newspaper editions so Snapchatters can easily consume the content in a more visual way. Snapchat is all about innovative visual content, and this step moves Snapchat in the direction of becoming a content destination site instead of just a content sharing site. Here's what it will look like on the Discover tab (when a Snapchat user swipes to the left):

Source: The Washington Post

2) Saturday Night Live produces its first skit exclusively for Snapchat.

NBC's Saturday Night Live produced its first short comedy sketch published exclusively on its Snapchat Story. Snapchat plans to produce a series of shorts from Saturday Night Live and other shows on the network. To watch the next short, add Saturday Night Live on Snapchat (@nbcsnl).

SNL is a viewewship juggernaut -- almost 11 million people watch it each week. If it sees success with posting original content on Snapchat outside of its regular distribution strategies on YouTube and other social media platforms, marketers might consider producing their own "shorts" on Snapchat and seeing how they perform.

Source: Saturday Night Live via Snapchat

3) Snap Inc. files for $3 billion initial public offering (IPO).

Snapchat's parent company, Snap Inc., filed for a $3 billion IPO on February 2nd. After rebranding as a camera company and launching Snapchat Spectacles in September 2016, marketers eagerly waited to hear what they would do next.

Snap Inc. now faces intensified competition from other social media platforms with larger user bases that have adopted features similar to Snapchat's. For example, Instagram launched its own version of Stories last year, and it currently has more users making Stories than all of Snapchat's total user base. Marketers should keep an eye on how Snapchat evolves and which platform is better suited for ephemeral content for their audiences.

Source: Securities and Exchange Commission

4) Snapchat launches first original reality show on A&E Network.

Snap Inc. announced its forthcoming partnership with A&E to produce "Second Chance," an unscripted reality television show about breakups on Snapchat. The show will diversify audiences for both Snapchat and A&E and get existing Snapchat and A&E audiences on the other platforms. Marketers who aren't already advertising on Snapchat may want to start doing so as it grows its audience even further with original content.

Source: Deadline

5) YouTube launches mobile live-streaming for creators with 10,000 subscribers or more.