The Show Must Go On

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The Show Must Go On A Letter From The Editor by Robert-Jan BroerMarch 20, 2020 MIN READThe Show Must Go On

The world is still turning, but there are some moments these days it feels like it’s not really a smooth rotation. Here, at Fratello, our spirits are high, but we all see the news and effects of the Coronavirus and Coronacrisis.

It seems like months since show cancelations began. At the time, some thought it was nonsense, too early, a knee-jerk reaction. But, in hindsight, we can say that Mr. Hayek and the Swatch Group were totally right and I have to say I am grateful that he decided not to go forward. The same applies to the Grand Seiko Summit and all events that would have taken place in those early days of the Coronavirus.

Fratello Office(s)

Even the other week, I found myself traveling (together with Bert) to Switzerland to do a manufacture visit. We were the last visitors they allowed from outside Switzerland and made us wear masks during the visit (you might have seen that on my Instagram feed).

It didn’t feel good, in this aluminum tube with a few dozen other people

It felt OK to be there, but once we were on the plane back to Amsterdam, our feelings changed. We agreed that it should really be the last trip for now. It didn’t feel good, in this aluminum tube with a few dozen other people. The same applied for walking at the airport.

And then last week, things really took a turn for the worse. Things started moving very quickly. Some countries are in lockdown. Idiots are hoarding toilet paper. In the area where my office is, all candy and potato chips are gone — go figure. Shops are closing. Schools are closed (and look like they may remain so for several months). You’ve seen and probably witnessed the exact same thing.

How it affects Fratello

In this article I would like to share with you how we operate during these times, what changes (or will change) and how it affects Fratello. For Fratello, besides all the canceled events and shows, it is business as usual. The main difference for us is that we now have more time to spend in the (home) office. There are some obvious benefits to this: Of course, we have more time to create new content. That is time we would normally spend traveling. Perhaps being grounded for a while will do us all good. It certainly gives us time to take stock and think about the way we operate, for sure.

Perhaps now more than ever, watch brands need to rely on watch media.

We saw a slight dip in traffic at some point, which we also saw on other websites, probably caused by the fact that: a) people are more focused on Corona news and their stock portfolios, etc. and b) we noticed the mobile traffic was affected a bit, making us think that people also read our content while commuting. However, we also saw a quick recovery there, so we guess that you guys also need a bit of (watch) distraction from the Coronacrisis too.

Omega Speedmaster Ultraman STII BYBBR Fratello

A virtual team

We have enough content to work on, as long as our friends from UPS, PostNL, DHL, FedEx, DPD, etc. are working, we get our supply of review watches. Although most of our team members work from their (home) office, we do have a centralized office in The Hague. It’s a shared office space with some other companies (IT, government services, etc.) individuals (one guy is considered the biggest Frank Sinatra collector in the world, who has his office/archive/museum/shrine here as well, maintaining his collection), where we have two offices.

We work on and off from home or in the office (one person per office) and as long as it is not forbidden, it works best for us. It is also here where we have our professional photo studio for shooting the watches. However, if necessary, Bert has his own studio set-up at his home office as well. We have always been a pretty virtual team, and you could say this helps tremendously to just continue what we’ve always been doing. We use cloud solutions to share photos, videos, podcast files, and all other sorts of planning and schedule documents.

Rely on watch media

Perhaps now more than ever, watch brands need to rely on watch media, to get exposure which is so necessary to make you aware of their new watches. Now that a lot of shops are closed, or have limited their opening times, you want to be able to rely on watch media a bit more when makng that next (online) purchase.

We are continuously working on improving our website, the reading experience, and increasing the number of articles that we publish on a daily basis. Our revenue streams are based on advertisements, partnerships, and, in the future, online sales. For now, we are happy and thankful we have received so many confirmations from brands to (keep) supporting us, without interfering with the actual content. So every editorial article remains our own work and reflects our own opinion.



Now as for our private lives, that is probably not much different from your own. I find myself (or my wife) giving our daughter homeschooling for a few hours per day (and I have to say I suddenly recognize a lot of school-avoiding behavior from many years ago). We wash our hands (a lot). We try to stay at home and keep friends and family (especially the vulnerable) at a distance. That is the hardest part.

A bunch of us on the Fratello team have found a way to entertain ourselves in the evenings and weekends. Instead of going out or meeting friends, we decided to pick up an old hobby from many decades ago: We build RC cars. A few weeks ago my dad brought my old Tamiya Boomerang RC car (he was cleaning up the attic) and to my surprise, it still worked, after changing the batteries.

I disassembled it, cleaned it, ordered some replacement parts and assembled it again. The fun part for me is in building it, and it seems that Mike, Bert, and Gerard also got triggered by it. So if you want to follow our builds, make sure to check our @fratelloracing Instagram account. To my surprise, my wife is fully supportive, mainly because I think she feels it is a pretty (or the most) harmless midlife crisis thing.


Some long overdue fiddling

I also took the time over the past days to fiddle around with my own watches a bit more. I’ve enjoyed changing their appearance a bit more often. Swapping straps or bracelets, for example. And taking some pictures. These are the things I wish I had more time to do normally. Usually, I will return home late from meetings or traveling. I don’t spend anywhere near enough time appreciating the collection I’ve spent years building. Since I have suddenly a lot more free evenings, I get to appreciate some other watches besides the usual (gold) suspects. And my family. They are, of course, the most important thing.

Stay safe everyone, and follow the rules, we need to do this all together. Now more than ever.

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About the author

Robert-Jan Broer

Ever since he was a young child, Robert-Jan was drawn to watches, even though it were digital Casio and quartz Swatch models at the time. In the mid-1990s, his interest increased when he started to read about mechanical watches in… read more

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