For those of us who aspire to be modern gentlemen, there are few things more rewarding than building a collection of stylish, unique and well-made watches.
Unfortunately, there are also few things more expensive.
Well made watches are notoriously pricey, and building out a respectable watch collection can cost as much (if not more) than stocking your closet full of finely tailored suits.
This is the (admittedly first-world) problem that Watch Gang, an online men’s watch subscription service, purports to solve.
I recently spent a few weeks testing out two watches from their service – both from brands I had never heard of – to see if signing up for a monthly watch club is actually worth it.
Read on to learn the full results from my Watch Gang review and find out if Watch Gang is legit, or full of sh*t.
This review came about because Watch Gang reached out and asked if I’d like to try their service/products.
As I always do when brands reach out, I told them I’d only be willing to try their service if they were comfortable with me writing a thorough, transparent and honest review.
They agreed and provided two sample watches, one from their Black Tier and one from the Platinum Tier.
The review that follows consists of my honest, unfiltered opinions about the watches I received and the subscription service in general.
In-Depth Watch Gang Review
Is Watch Gang legit?
An Irreverent Gent Investigation
Overview: Watch Gang
The fact that building a watch collection is so cost prohibitive sucks, especially for those of us who want to have a wide enough variety of watches to suit our style preferences.
Founded in 2016 by a guy named Matthew Gallagher, Watch Gang is a Los Angeles based company whose primary mission is to help solve that problem (or at least to try to).
How Does Watch Gang Work?
Watch Gang is a subscription service, so you sign up and pay a monthly subscription fee, and then each month (or each quarter, depending on your preferences) they send you new watches in the mail.
Your first watch arrives within three business days, and then new watches continue to arrive for as many months as you’ve signed up for.
The idea is that this works out to be a great deal for the consumer, because your monthly fee is significantly lower than what you would pay to buy the same watch at its retail price.
(Watch Gang claims the value of the watch can be up to five times higher than what you pay.)
In addition to that basic structure, they also offer a few additional carrots to entice you to sign up.
For instance, members get access to what they call the Wheel of Watches, which is basically the ability to curate a selection of great watches for a low price, and then win one of them through a digital wheel spin.
But the big carrot that Watch Gang offers members is the chance to win a Rolex or a Tag Heuer every week through their weekly giveaways.
Each week Watch Gang subscribers are entered into a draw, and one member wins a free Rolex.
The same thing happens on Tuesday, with one member receiving a Tag, and on Saturday, with someone winning a Seiko.
So your monthly subscription fees not only cover the cost of the watches you receive in the mail, but also make you eligible to win one of the big-name luxury watches each week.
It’s a pretty enticing proposition, especially for those of us who would love to have a Rolex but can’t justify the pretty exorbitant price tag.
And speaking of price tags…
Watch Gang Prices
How much is Watch Gang?
Watch Gang’s prices depend both on how long you want to sign up for, and the quality/price point of the watches you want to receive.
You can choose to either pay month-to-month, which is the most expensive option, or sign up for increments of 3, 6 or 12 months.
And as mentioned, if getting a new watch every month seems like too much for you, you can also opt to receive watches on a quarterly basis.
In that case you’d get one new watch every three months, which frankly seems a little more reasonable to me.
The longer your subscription period, the more of a discount you get on the price.
Three Categories of Watch Quality
They also offer three different subscription tiers that allow you to choose the quality of the watches you’re willing to pay for.
In the Original Tier, you pay $50 month-to-month (and again, less if you sign up for more months in advance), and receive watches worth up to $150 in retail value.
In the Black Tier, you pay $100 per month, and get watches worth up to $500.
And in the highest-level Platinum Tier, you pay $300 month-to-month, but get watches valued up to $1,500.
How Does Watch Gang Make Money?
A big part of the price tag associated with watches comes from the markup added to them by the retailers who sell them.
Watch Gang gets around that issue by cutting out the middleman and establishing relationships directly with the manufacturers.
Their business model is pretty simple:
They buy their watches directly from the manufacturers at wholesale prices, and presumably buy in bulk to get a further discount.
They then make money through economies of scale, by getting enough subscribers to cover the cost of their wholesale purchases.
It’s a clever model that allows them to offer some high-quality watches to consumers at prices that appear to be below market value.
But how high-quality are these watches, exactly? Let’s take a closer look at the two they sent me to see if it’s really worth it for watch lovers.
Watch Gang Platinum Review
The first watch I tried, from the Platinum Tier, was the Jubilee Automatic Limited Edition Reigate from AVI-8.
Its design is inspired by the P-51 Mustang plane, a long-range, single-seat fighter-bomber used during the Second World War’s Operation Jubilee.
The Reigate is easily the most eye-catching watch in my collection.
Even though I haven’t owned it for very long, it’s already become the piece that I get the most comments on when I wear it out.
I’ve long been a fan of air-force inspired clothes and accessories like bomber jackets, so I love the military-inspired aesthetic.
And I like the fact that it legitimately draws on design elements from the P-51 Mustang, which not only makes the watch look great, but also makes for a good story when people ask about the piece.
But it’s not just a show horse.
In addition to good looks, the Reigate has a sturdy stainless steel case and NH35 Japanese automatic movement to complement the eye-catching dark blue dial and its bold yellow numbers.
Plus it came with an interchangeable leather band that can be swapped out for the stainless steel one that comes standard, which gives the watch a whole new look.
It’s also worth noting that the Reigate retails for $425, while the Platinum tier costs $300 per month at its most expensive, and about $283 per month if you sign up for a 12-month term.
So you’d definitely get your money’s worth if you received the Reigate as part of the Platinum subscription plan.
(Though I should reiterate that in my case I was sent the watch as an editorial reviewer, so I can’t make any guarantees as to the watches you’d receive if you sign up.)
A Little Large
For me the big minus with the Reigate is its size.
At 43 mm, the watch dial is a little big for my
pathetically dainty handsomely slim wrists, and a little large for my aesthetic tastes.
That hasn’t kept me from wearing and enjoying the watch, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I wish it was a little smaller.
Total Score for the Watch Gang Platinum Review: 4/5
Watch Gang Black Tier Review
The second watch I tried from Watch Gang falls under their Black Tier, which is the mid-level price tier in between the Original and Platinum subscription options.
Funnily enough, this was another watch inspired by fighter pilots:
The Aeromat PNY, a handsome chronograph with a black face and a tan leather band.
Timeless and Refined Design
As soon as I opened the Aeromat case I knew that the PNY would fit nicely into the modern-meets-classic aesthetic I try to cultivate.
The PNY collection combines the refined style of the 1950s with the functionality and time-tracking requirements of post-WWII pilots, who would fly the Paris to New York (PNY) route in the Lockheed Constellation, a legendary plane used by TWA.
That combo of 1950s sleekness and post-war pilot cool is about as far up my alley as anything has ever been up anyone’s alley, so I was impressed with the watches overall look right from the start.
While the watch dial is black, it’s surrounded by a white GMT inner ring that both tells the time according to the 24-hour military clock, and adds a gorgeous bit of contrast to the look.
When combined with the white faces of the chronograph minute hand and 24-hour faces, it makes for a handsome overall package that’s eye-catching without being showy.
The PNY retails for $275 through Aeromat’s website, while the Black Tier costs about $100 per month at its most expensive, and around $92 per month on a 12-month plan.
So even if you wanted to sign up for a month just to find out what a Watch Gang watch is like (and throw your name in the hat for that weekly Rolex of course), you’d do quite well to receive the PNY.
I think product reviewers often feel like if they’re not sh*tting on the products they try they’re not doing their jobs right.
But if I’m being honest then I have to admit that, for me, there aren’t really any minuses with the PNY.
It’s a great example of both a company and a watch that I never would have found on my own, but was happy to discover (which in my opinion is the whole point of subscription box services like Watch Gang).
Whereas the Reigate is clearly a great watch that was just a little too large for my personal tastes, the PNY hit all the right notes.
Total Score for the Watch Gang Black Tier Review: 4.9/5
Is Watch Gang Worth It?
After a few weeks spent wearing the hell out of the two watches I received from Watch Gang, I feel comfortable recommending the service to pretty much any guy who’s interested in watches.
For me, there are three big factors that make Watch Gang worth trying (in addition to the chance to win a Rolex, of course).
The first is the most obvious:
They’ll introduce you to some new brands and styles that you probably wouldn’t have found on your own, which will help you expand both your watch collection and your knowledge of the industry, without having to invest any time or energy.
(And as someone who’s wasted a lot of time wandering around malls and department stores, that’s a pretty big plus, in my experience.)
Second is the value they provide:
Watch Gang won’t just introduce you to new brands, they’ll get you a deal on them.
No matter which tier or subscription model you choose, they guarantee that it would cost more to buy the same watch(es) at their regular retail price, and from what I’ve seen, they live up to that guarantee.
And the third factor is the flexibility of their plans.
If you’re a little apprehensive or you just don’t want a new watch showing up every single month, it’s easy to just dip your toe in the water instead.
You can sign up for a month-to-month plan and wait until your first watch arrives before deciding whether you want to keep going for another month, or just stop at one.
When you add it all up, Watch Gang’s value-for-money proposition makes a lot of sense in my humble opinion, and their flexible pricing/membership options make it pretty much a no-brainer to at least try.
Overall Score for Watch Gang Review: 4.5/5
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