As the new year begins I've decided to write about one of my favourite YouTube watch shows, About Effing Time. Over the course of 18 months 3 guys (4 if you include the mastermind behind the scenes - Marcus) created a unique show that so many watch lovers tuned in to every week. The combination of their individual and unique personalities blended well together in the Bamford Hive. They bounced and sparked off each other as they expressed their likes and dislikes across the watch industry. George is like the energiser bunny with his boundless enthusiasm and excitable nature, Adrian has a laid back charm and dry wit that betrays his "Captain Boring" moniker, Andrew is the consummate professional and champion of many brands who manages to keep the show moving and prevent it from derailing too much. Marcus is the cool and cheerful wizard behind the curtain who sprinkles his magic across the filming and editing of the weekly shows.
After their main show which aired every 2 weeks we would get a "therapy session" which would see the guys dissect, review and go through the comments and feedback from the viewers. We got a sneak peak into their jet set lifestyle when we would find them checking in from various locations for product launches across the globe. This gave the show a truly international vibe. George is in Japan, Andrew and Marcus in Greece and Adrian in Switzerland. Each making time to check in with their community. A community that grew massively in such a short time. This community was greatly valued by all of them so much so that they decided to show their appreciation by hosting a meet up just before Christmas in London. Finally the fans could all be in the same room and bring their enthusiasm and appreciation to a studio in London. I booked my ticked and arranged my flight.
The plan was for myself and another watch loving freak to fly over for the event and fly back the next day. Our smaller version of the jet set lifestyle of our watch gurus. Leading up to the event we were both highly excited. We have watched every episode and therapy session and now we get to be in the audience for the filming of the next show. How cool is that?
To make things even more exciting I had written a letter to George a few weeks before hand. In a world of Instagram, emails and dm's I chose to go old school and wrote an actual letter, put it in an envelope and posted it. My intention was to just say that I loved his work and that he was a small part of the reason for me designing the Retro-Bot. I still have "get a Retro-Bot onto one of the shelves in the Hive" on my list of goals, someday this will happen. The exciting part came when I received an email reply to say George had read the letter and would love to see the Retro-Bot so could I please bring it with me to the show. To say I was giddy would be a massive understatement.
As we got closer to the event date I was checking in for the flight and choosing seats for my friend and I. Once I sorted these out I let him know, he then replied that he couldn't go due to catching Covid. Such a pity and a huge disappointment for him. My trip was now going to be a solo effort.
I packed the Retro-Bot into a carry-on suitcase and hit the road. The thing I like about London is how easy it is to get around using the tube. You hop from one train to the next and then pop out into the area you want to get to. Very handy. When I arrived I checked in to my hotel and had a few hours to kill so I decided to check out Harrods and Selfridges and try on some absolutely fantastic watches. Its a great way to spend an afternoon.
It was great to see Bamford's new shop in shop beside so many big name brands. Congratulations to him.
It was also a nice surprise to see the SwissKubik Masterbox (this is the mechanism that sits nicely inside the Retro-Bot watch winder) on display in a very prominent Masterworks display case.
Along came show time so I walked to the venue with the Retro-Bot in tow. Heading in to this on my own was a bit of a worry as I didn't know anyone and was afraid I'd end up standing in a corner by myself until it was time to leave. Once I can to the door my fears were dispelled instantly as a voice came from behind and introduced himself. It was Mark and Neil from the Real Watch Brothers. A couple of friendly gentlemen who create fantastic watch photography (and recently started writing for WatchGecko) We had met through Instagram and then at the BQ watches event last summer when I was exhibiting. This made me feel a lot more at ease. The other thing that made me feel at ease was the watch community that was present that evening.
There was no worry about not knowing anyone. All you had to do was say to someone "nice watch" and the conversation would start to flow as they told you the story behind the watch and why they wore it. Seeing every kind of Rolex, IWC, Omega, Studio Underdog (Richard was there) Christopher ward, Zenith, Squale/SecondeSeconde and Gshock was fantastic. So much love for watches of all shapes, sizes and budgets.
As the crowd settled in the show began to start - there was some pre filming of peoples watches by the wizard Marcus who flew around the room with tons of energy and excitement as he tried to capture what everyone was wearing and to get a bit of a story behind each watch.
Tonight was the first public event and as such the topic for the episode was "The Community Choice Awards" The guys wanted to have an award show that was purely based on the public opinion and not decided by industry insiders. They gave everyone a chance to nominate the best watches in each category and then get everyone to vote on them leading up to the event. Catagories included "Gonna Wanna Steal It - Money No Object" "The F.U Watch" and "Captain Boring - Go Anywhere Do Anything"
Ignoring the bad audio on Andrews mic, the energy was high and the back and forth joking was present throughout the show. Each of the guys picked their winner for each category and then revealed what the public chose. Adrian was the overall winner with the most matches. George unfortunately didn't win any category but that didn't dampen his spirits as he conducted a separate podcast recording in one of the back rooms where guests cued up to have a "Therapy Session" with George and discuss their watches and the story behind them.
When the show ended the guys mingled with the crowd and talked for about an hour with anyone that could get a minute with them. I had a great chat with Marcus who I admit is one of the nicest and most genuine guys I have ever encountered. I told him about the Retro-Bot and he was excited to see it. We moved to a corner of the room out of everyone's way and I took it out of the suitcase I brought it in. He was really excited and thought it was a fantastic watch accessory. He lined it up on the ground ant took a ton of pictures of it. Maybe I have a new customer, Only time will tell.
As the night came towards the end I still hadn't seen George to show him the Retro-Bot. His assistant grabbed me and brought me to the therapy room. I waited in line while the last of the guests recorded their therapy sessions and when it was my turn I excitedly entered the room and introduced myself. I was nervous and excited but tried to remain cool and composed as I opened the suitcase and brought the Retro-Bot out to show him. He told me it was fantastic while I went through the details about the design process and the features it offers. He wanted to showcase it on the B.Y.O.I (Bring Your Own Independent) section of the show in the future. This was something that Adrian mentioned too when I met him in Edinburgh. Maybe they can fight it out to see who wins and gets to bring it to the show? At least that's what I was thinking but little did I know what was going to happen a few weeks later when the episode aired on Christmas Day. After our chat he posed for a picture even though he was dying to go to the toilet. He even picked the Retro-Bot up to include it with us. I'm so grateful for the support.
As the event ended I was one of the last people to leave as I tried to purchase 2 AEF t-shirts for myself and my absent friend. Carrying 2 goody bags (one for me and one for my friend) filled with a Oris hat, Bark & Jack nato strap, Wolf vanity tray, AEF magazine and stickers, I walked back to the hotel to reflect on the event.
The next day I took the opportunity to visit the BBC Earth Experience show opposite my hotel. Its a fantastic interactive exhibition based around the David Attenborough documentaries such as Blue Planet. It was amazing to sit there surrounded by massive video screens, watching nature across every continent and engrossed in the sounds and stories. If you get a chance to visit London, please add this to your sightseeing schedule, you wont regret it.
I was really looking forward to watching the episode and seeing if I could find myself in the crowd during the video. On Christmas Day it finally aired, I found myself in the crowd next the Richard from Studio Underdog and also saw my watch in some of the edits. It was another great show. And then the unthinkable happened. As the episode ended the sombre monologues from each of the guys started. They let the community they grew over the previous 18 months know that this was their last show.
I was gutted.
I was also lucky.
I was one of the few that got to be part of the rollercoaster, my friend missed out. I reflected on the past episodes and the discussions the guys had, the comradery and the rivalry as they imparted their wisdom on their viewers. I remembered their antics wearing overalls in Geneva and running around London in a quest to find the perfect watch for the mission" the masked watchmaker" gave them. I remembered the therapy sessions where they gave a shout out to all the people from around the globe who would tune in on a Sunday to discuss the previous episode. It was a great format, others have tried similar ideas and haven't executed them to the same degree. It leaves a gaping hole in the watch world. Hopefully that hole will be filled with their next projects.
It would be a shame to have built a following and then leave them wandering in the wilderness in search of something that would welcome them in to the conversation in the same way the About Effing Time crew did each week. I know that they are all busy with their "day jobs" and it can be difficult to make time (pun intended) for filming the shows but even a couple of once off special episodes would be a fantastic way to ween everybody off the AEF addiction. We as a community need something to look forward to that has humour and excitement as well as poignant topics to discuss in our little world of wrist worn marvels.
Maybe they will listen to their fans and give it another go once they clear their calendars. Maybe they will miss us as much as we miss them.
Maybe they flew too close to the sun and their wings got burned
Maybe they went the way of so many great rock bands - release some critically acclaimed albums and then the fame goes to their heads and the fighting begins followed by the separate hotels and private jets. Hopefully they will reform and give us one more tour/album.
Maybe we just have to be happy with the episodes we have and rewatch them.
Either way, I just wanted to say thank you to George, Adrian, Marcus and Andrew.
Tick Tock Motherf'rs and I'm glad you weren't here to F**k any Spiders