The last few years have seen a growth in the popularity of the niche blog. These opinion and news sites cover very specific topics or ideas. For instance, my site aBlogtoRead.com is all about watches. However, an even more niche website is a place like Calibre11.com – that focuses not just on timepieces, but one single brand. David Chalmers started Calibre 11 a few years ago in 2009 to discuss the Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer and only Tag Heuer.
Considered a serious reference for TAG Heuer news and historic information, Calibre 11 is an example of micro-niche done extremely well. While not the only brand-dedicated blog of its kind, Caliber 11 is among the best in the sphere of timepieces. Calibre 11 has further been able to receive support from TAG Heuer while also remain relatively independent. It should be considered a good model of how to niche blog effectively when covering just one brand. Let’s hear about how it all started and why it works from Mr. Chalmers himself:
Ariel Adams (AA): You specialize in blogging exclusively about the popular watch maker TAG Heuer. Just one brand. Why TAG Heuer and why only them and how did you come to start Calibre 11?
David Chalmers (DC): I am a long-time vintage Heuer and TAG Heuer collector who started Calibre 11 in mid- 2009. Calibre 11 is a part-time gig for me, I work in finance during the week and write my posts on weekends. I found that there was a lot of knowledge that lay in the various message boards/ forums, but it was too hard to find…and so people would ask the same questions over and over. So, my first posts on Calibre 11 were taking some of the answers that I’d written for new collectors and turning those into properly formatted posts with photos.
The first few years were focused on vintage Heuer- mainly because that’s all I had in my collection and so it was easy to take the photos. Once the website became more widely read, I was able to get in touch with TAG Heuer about getting access to newer watches to review- and things went from there. I had been to TAG Heuer in 2008 as part of a Vintage Heuer “Collector Summit”, so when I needed to get in contact with TAG Heuer again for Calibre 11, at least they knew who I was and that I was a collector.
Why TAG? Well, TAG Heuer has been my favorite watch brand for a long time. My first love is Formula 1 racing, and when I started watching Ayrton Senna in his McLaren-Honda in 1988, the team and Senna himself were sponsored by TAG Heuer. I got a TAG Heuer 4000 for my 21st birthday as my first “proper watch,” and then a few years later when I was accepted into Business School I wanted to buy myself a new watch. I saw the TAG Heuer re-edition collection pieces for the time time at that point. That was the first time that I had seen a Carrera or a Monaco and those designs just clicked and hooked me into the vintage Heuer world.
So why is Calibre 11 only about TAG Heuer? Well, two reasons. First, I felt that I knew enough about the brand and the watches to write articles that would be hard for a writer with broader interests to cover – you know, lots of details, and more of the back-story about the watches themselves. I felt that I couldn’t write a better Omega story than anyone else, but that I did know quite a bit about Heuer/ TAG Heuer and had loved the watches. That passion made it easy. The second reason is that I only wanted to write once a week, and that fits perfectly with being focused on one brand… no-one in my opinion wants to read about a single watch brand more than once a week. This also meant that I could stay on top of the brand news in a more focused way.
AA: Are you interested in just TAG Heuer watches, or timepieces in general? How did you decide that you’d dedicate your blogging time and passion to their products and history alone?
DC: No, there are lots of brands that I like; Sinn, some Omega pieces, love the Patek Philippe Nautilus, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox, and I’ve got a Casio G-shock that I wear on the weekends!
For me to invest the time in creating a website I wanted it to be the best of its genre, and I couldn’t devote the time to do that with a general watch website. My feeling was that a mono-brand site was easier to manage. On top of that, writing about something that you genuinely like is far easier than trying to find something interesting to say about a brand that you’ve never heard of.