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News: SOMA, a new platform for microbrand watches

News: SOMA, a new platform for microbrand watches

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The online needs of the watch community

As the co-founder of www.soma.co (a ‘social marketplace’ for watch buyers and sellers), I’ve thought a lot about why we buy watches, how we interact online about our watches, and what’s missing from current online venues.

Let’s start with why we wear watches to begin with—and why we like to share the wearing of them with our friends across the internet.

Firstly, we don’t really need them for telling time anymore. Most of us have a multitude of ways to keep track of the time: computer screen, smartphone, microwave, etc. Yet we still love our watches. I believe we invest in an automatic or mechanical watch for one or more of the following reasons, and usually for some combination of all of them:

  • We like them as a fashion accessory: they look good on our wrist and can complement other items of our wardrobe
  • They act as a status symbol, especially for higher-end or well-recognized brand name watches, signaling to others our place in the socioeconomic hierarchy
  • They remind us of a pre-digital era in which ‘life was simpler’; their mechanical purity has a nostalgic value
  • We love the complexity and craftsmanship and revere watches as almost an art form

I’m sure there are even more reasons we love watches, but love them we do. And we love them in an especially gregarious way. Where acolytes of other hobbies may pursue their passions in solitude, watch enthusiasts want to share their…enthusiasm. Across Facebook, Instagram, and other channels, we post #wristshots, #watchporn, #watchoftheday(s), and #womw(s) to our #watchfam.

We also need to buy and sell watches. From tried-and-true ecommerce sites like eBay, to the marketplaces now added to traditional social platforms (e.g., Facebook marketplace), we have plenty of options for transacting.

What we don’t have, at least until now, is a site that fully integrates the social and the transactional. Where can one like and buy, comment and follow, sell and share—all in the same user interface? Why can’t we satisfy our two greatest needs with the same product?

Another need, more confined to the mid to high end of the market, is that of the authentication of provenance. So-called “superfakes” are becoming increasingly difficult to identify, and online marketplaces struggle to combat fake watches. Many turn to a third-party authentication service, which adds time and expense (and which is fully warranted in many scenarios).

A water-tight method to prove a watch’s authenticity for online sales would streamline transactions immensely.

Obviously, the internet has been a force multiplier for artisans seeking customers. We just need a few improvements to make our experience as a watch community even better. These are on their way.

Jacob Andra is co-founder of www.soma.co, which combines social interaction, buying & selling, and blockchain-based proofs-of-authenticity in a single easy-to-navigate product. SOMA goes live with a limited launch on June 15, and is open to the public sometime in late July or early August.

On June 15, SOMA goes live with “Cohort 1”: 100 initial users who will trial the platform and also have a lot of special deals and exclusive limited editions created for SOMA by various independent watchmakers such as Oliver Mory, Sartory-Billard, and more. A couple weeks later it will open to a wider group, and sometime in July or early August it will be open to the public.

Any of Boris’s readers can secure a spot in Cohort 1 if they email jacob@soma.co before June 1st. Mention Boris and have “Cohort 1” as the subject line.

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