Always ahead of the curve with Monochrome

By Montredo in Watch 101
May 14, 2019
Always ahead of the curve with Monochrome


Interview by Paul Burke

From a humble beginning all the way to dedicated collections by renowned Swiss watch brands, exclusive collaborations and Instagram accounts with millions of followers: Watch blogs have undergone a quirky development and are no longer the former melting pot for watch geeks they may have once been. Instead, they are now highly respected and influential players that bring a breath of fresh air into an industry that often seems to struggle in keeping up with the times.

We took the new year as an opportunity to talk to the bright minds behind some of the most influential and popular blogs. We wanted to find out first-hand how the individual blogs differ from each other, what their future holds and what the challenges are for the watch industry.

We begin with the Dutchman Frank Geelen, founder of Monochrome, who will kick off this interview series. Together with his multi-member team, he has been setting the bar extremely high for first-class watch content since 2006 because they always manage to convey even the most complex facts in a down-to-earth and entertaining manner, making Monochrome without a doubt one of the coolest watch blogs out there.

With which intention and vision in mind did you found your watch blog? How did it all start?

Many years ago I was looking for a new watch and stumbled across information about watches with a mechanical movement that was powered by the movement of the arm. I had no clue, but it sounded intriguing and I dug in. I knew about Seiko Kinetic that did something similar and found out the differences. I read pretty much everything about watches that I could find online. Since the information that I could find online was extremely fragmented, and littered with opinion (over facts), I found it difficult to distill the essence from all that info… and I could imagine that more aspiring watch enthusiasts faced the same problems.

So, I figured it would be good to create a place where qualitative information about these nice watches was gathered. First, I linked to the few good stories I could find elsewhere, and soon I started writing myself. Or let’s say, I was developing my own style and started to form the outlines of what has become Monochrome as it is today.

Describe your watch blog in three words only.

Educational, inspiring and qualitative. 

What’s your value proposition and what makes your blog unique compared to others?

Since the beginning the focus has been on sharing qualitative information with the readers. Watch enthusiasts should be served the right information, and not have to plough through loads of rubbish in order to learn more about their beloved watches. Monochrome is that place and what we do is borderline educational. 

What are your main challenges and your plans for the future?

Because we’re a small team, and we want to bring quality reports, review and news from the world of watches, we’re extremely busy, pretty much permanently. The biggest challenge is to find one or two new persons to join the team, and who are a good match with the rest of the team, the work load, the passion and knowledge for watches. 

Which disruptive innovation might hit the watch industry next? Which drastic changes do you expect?

On Monochrome we focus on the beauty of mechanics, the inspiring history of timekeeping and the craftsmanship. As long as beautiful mechanical watches are simply beautiful mechanical watches, there will always be people who are inspired and touched by these fine mechanics, their design and the craftsmanship. No quartz watch or smart watch can compete with this or change this. 

Tomorrow morning you wake up as Michel Loris-Melikoff. What would you have on your agenda to save the Baselworld?

First I’d call upon all exhibiting brands to come with ideas and suggestions for improving the show, I would clear my agenda and talk with them all. Now they have been talking to a few of the large brands and many mid tier brands feel neglected… like it has always been at Baselworld. So the major change has to be that communication between Baselworld and their exhibitors becomes much more interactive, much more open and much more of an exchange of ideas. 

In your opinion, which underdog watch brand doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves?

I guess there are beautiful brands, in every price segment, who could deserve more attention and/or sales. Difficult to mention one name, but in general I’m happy to see that independent watchmaking is getting so much more attention since the arrival of online watch publications. 

Describe your personal dream watch if you were to design your own.

Once life gets less hectic, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do! 

Which advice would you give to a young watch enthusiast? Which brand would you recommend in terms of bang for the buck?

There are so many nice watches! Some people never want to part with the watches they buy, while others don’t mind selling a watch when they have something new on the radar. This determines for a large part what is a good bang for the buck.

When you never want to part with a watch, go for 100% with what you like. But when you want to sell your watch again, in order to acquire another one, you have to be aware that some brands devaluate drastically, while others keep value much better.

What would be your go-to watch in the following five categories on Montredo?

Thanks for the informative interview, Frank!