The Richmond from Free Watch Boutique (Not a Daniel Wellington)

I am a thrifty sort of fellow and when it comes to watches, I enjoy plumbing the depths of parsimony. I've found Five Watches Under $50 and enjoyed $20 HMTs, but when I saw the offer from Free Watch Boutique, I knew I was about to experience epic next-level cheapness. A watch for the cost of shipping - a whopping £8 (@$13 USD)? I could hardly call myself The Time Bum if I didn't check it out. So I did, and that is how I got the shittiest watch on earth.

I first noticed Free Watch Boutique on Instagram and followed the link back their site, which offered a generic minimalist quartz. You know they type: 40mm case, 20mm nylon NATO, the same one you see all over Kickstarter and IndieGoGo with different logos. These watches are common Chinese catalog items cranked out by the millions. They aren't exactly free, but cheap enough in bulk. The site claims they are giving watches away so everyone can enjoy a quality timepiece and to provide jobs in the community. I figure it's more likely someone ended up with a batch of cheapos for pennies a piece and decided to unload them at a slim profit as an alternative to trashing the lot. Regardless, I am not a big fan of these watches, and had no desire to own one, but I thought it would make a good article. Maybe something about the last word in cookie-cutter quartz.

With a fully formed rationalization, I clicked the "add to cart" button. "How bad could it be?" I asked myself. A few weeks later, the watch arrived from Singapore in a small padded envelope. The declared value was 18¢. Often, these values are understated in order to squeeze below a certain tariff threshold. In this case, I suspect it is exactly accurate. How bad is this watch? It is spectacularly, hilariously awful. 

The watch I received was not the watch in the pictures. Most notably, it does not have a sterile, brand-free dial. Instead, it is a half-assed, counterfeit Daniel Wellington. The appropriated brand name is all over it in weak printing and shallow engraving. I have often said the best part of collecting affordable watches is that they are too cheap to fake. I was wrong. I understand why people buy luxury brand knock offs. I don't agree with it, but I get it. I don't understand why anyone would buy a mass-market knock off. Would you buy a replica Honda Civic? Not that there is anything wrong with either the Civic or the DW but why bother when the real thing is common as dirt? Obvious trademark infringement aside, I think they missed an opportunity for satire here. They should have called the watch Beef Wellington, complete with a backwards "B" in the logo. That would have been funny. This is just sad. 
The watch arrived free of any protective plastic film. Instead, it was covered with smeary fingerprints. The applied markers and polished hands are pocked and dirty. The minute hand isn't parallel to the dial so it rises up as it reaches the bottom of the dial and drops back at the top. The crown wobbles when you set it. The case is best described at an utter shitshow. It is nicked, dented, and gouged. Jagged chunks of metal are missing from both sides between the lugs. Remarkably, this damage occurred before it was plated. Outstanding.
I thought I might at least get an extra NATO strap out of it. Not so. The strap is only acceptable if you like frayed edges, lumpy seams, uneven holes, and "Daniel Wellington" poorly engraved on the hardware. Really? With all the nylon NATO straps in the world, they went and found the absolute shittiest one. 

But wait! There's more! The envelope also contained a special gift. I am now also the proud owner of a creepy, nightmare-faced fairy charm. What happened to its mouth? Why does it look like it is trying to scream? Are those supposed to be breasts spilling over its elbows? What the fuck? I mean, what the fucking fuck?
Everything about this watch is an abject failure. Well, except one. You see, the watch does tell time. That part is right on the button and with typical quartz accuracy to boot. Still - and this is the only time I will ever say this - if given the choice between wearing this watch and just reading the time off my phone, I'd just choose the phone. 

I'd say that I would not recommend ordering this watch, but it's too late for that. The Richmond and the rest of the DW clones are gone from the site and they are offering a new model free watch as well as a line of inexpensive belts. I can only imagine what these products must be like, but based on their initial offering, I don't care to find out.

Pro: It tells time [Update 8/11/16: It stopped.]
Con: Everything else
Sum: What am I going to do with this piece of shit?




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