A Message for our Customers

 

+++NEW UPDATE+++

 

31 May, 2024

In the summer of 2023, Kobold exposed world-renowned mountaineer Nirmal Purja aka "Nimsdai" in a searing social media campaign and a long-form article. Today, the New York Times finally followed suit. Read the full story here.


13 February, 2022

Kobold is back! In 2021, we laid the groundwork to successfully rebuild the company that in its heyday rang in the renaissance of American watchmaking. After clearing the wait list for most models, including the Polar Surveyor Chronograph and the Arctic Diver, and after shipping most waitlisted orders for the Phantom Chronograph, we closed the year on a high note: The three mainstay watches of the Kobold brand now ship within 2 weeks of when a new order is placed.

2022 rang in some other changes at Kobold: New watches are covered by our 10-year warranty - if anything goes wrong during that timeframe, it's on us!  That's twice the length of the longest warranty coverage any of our competitors offer. Service watches are covered by a three-year warranty. That's an additional year's warranty coverage for all repair and service watches. It's a small but important step towards rebuilding the trust of our customers and a big signal of our longterm commitment to our company. 

Should you watch require periodic maintenance or repair, please mail your watch to the following address:

I.M. LLC
PO Box 382
Monroe, CT 06468

Separately, should you reside in the European Union, our new authorized service center is also accepting watches for service and repair. The address is:

KOBOLD
Willibald-Alexis-Strasse 18
Berlin 10965
GERMANY


While Kobold watches are serviced in the U.S. and Germany, respectively, our customer service team continues to be located here in Kathmandu.

To contact us, please email info@koboldwatch.com or call us between the hours of 8 A.M. - 12 P.M. Eastern by dialling +1-412-596-1585.

This year will also see the grand opening of the new Kobold retail boutique watch manufacturing center. 

To those who bet against Kobold and were quick to jump on the bandwagon of negativity, we also have a message: Always remember that when Kobold was founded in 1998, everyone said American watchmaking won't be back. And remember that thanks in no small part to Kobold, not only is American watchmaking today once again world-renowned. A vibrant community of watch collectors and enthusiasts also now exists, namely Red Bar Group, the quirky outfit which, too, has its origins in the Kobold brand and the good work we do here.

Onwards and upwards!

Read more about what happened at Kobold and the steps we are taking to rebuild the company: A Message From The Founder

###

7 August, 2020

We are happy to accept service watches again this month and for the remainder of the year are focusing on production runs of four models: Phantom, Polar Surveyor, Richard Byrd and the Langley GMT / NEC 5326. The original Langley GMT / NEC 5326 watches, which are powered by a quartz movement, are subject to a recall, and will be replaced by a new version powered by automatic-winding movements.

Earlier this year, Kobold was set to relocate to an office in EQT Plaza, a high-rise building in Pittsburgh, but the coronavirus pandemic threw our plans into disarray. We've  taken the new realities into account and reconfigured the business again. Until the pandemic's end, Kobold's team of Pittsburghers will work remotely in a home-office environment.

Kobold's Nepal operation, including watch assembly and repair, has also been affected by the pandemic. Should you require assistance, please phone us on (+977) 9808080888.

Before the pandemic, Kobold had also identified a suitable office and a charming retail outlet in Germany, where we had planned to set up an independent distributorship for Europe. We will revisit those plans after the pandemic. For now, we welcome Kobold Germany as an independent partner in the areas of distribution, after-sales and customer service. As a separate entity, Kobold Germany also designs, manufactures and distributes non-Kobold brand watches, particularly for corporate clients.

While the pandemic has slowed us down, we've nonetheless made significant progress in filling old orders and returning almost all of the old service watches to their respective customers. This means by the end of the year, we will have cleared the backlog that came as a result of internal sabotage a number of years ago. In 2021, we will begin compensating customers who were inconvenienced by the internal sabotage. 

This summer, after positive feedback, we've expanded our loaner watch program. Customers who place orders for new built-to-order watches will receive a loaner Kobold watch until their chosen model is ready to ship. Later this year, we will further expand this service and provide loaner watches to all customers who place new orders for watches.

For now, thank you for your continued patience and support!

###


 7 January, 2020

Over the past three months, the Indian subcontinent has been the scene of a rapid succession of political developments that have severely destabilized the region and prompted observers to call into question the integrity of India's democracy. All of these developments are directly related to the Indian government's activities in Nepal.

-In October, India unilaterally removed the special status of the state of Kashmir.
-In November, India annexed an integral part of Nepal's sovereign territory.
-In December, India's government announced a controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill.
-In December, India's government shut down access to the Internet for tens of millions of people. This eventually became the longest government-implemented Internet shut down in history.
-In January, proxies of the Indian government demanded that the United Nations formally recognize India, Nepal and Bhutan as Hindu countries.

The man behind these initiatives is India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-described Hindu nationalist who has only recently been denounced by the world media as a totalitarian leader who is seemingly intent on destroying the democratic foundations on which India has been built. Modi is also responsible for the 2015 economic blockade against Nepal and the 2002 pogrom and ensuing riots in his home state of Gujarat. 

Following a request in 2015 by Nepal's Prime Minister K.P. Oli to assist his government in repelling India's illegal and secret blockade, I headed a small team to document India's hegemony in Nepal. We subsequently played a small role in exposing India's secret blockade, which is described in further detail in an older news update below. 

The latest developments in India were predicted by us - the annexation of Nepal's lands, the crackdown in Kashmir and other parts of India, as well as the ensuing violence against the minority communities. 

Today, the world is watching closely how the conflict between Iran and the United States plays out. Meanwhile, the world media is at long last realizing that in Narendra Modi, India has a demonic leader who sees himself as a disciple of Adolf Hitler - and who has carefully copied many of his idol's moves. 

Modi's latest actions underscore the importance of our mission in Nepal between 2015 and today. They serve as an unwanted vindication of a decision I made in 2015 to focus on Nepal during the country's worst humanitarian crisis in recorded history. And they are a bright signal that totalitarianism is alive and well in regions where hundreds of millions of people feel its deadly effects. 

Sincerely yours,
Michael Kobold 

READ: India's battle of ideals

READ: India facing worst crisis since independence

READ: Longform article on India in The New Yorker

READ: Modi undoing India's founding principles

READ: India becoming a brutal authoritarian state

READ: Protests erupt over Citizenship Amendment Bill 

+++NEW UPDATE+++

29 July, 2019

The government of India today acknowledged its involvement in the 2015-16 economic blockade of Nepal. The blockade was the fourth such action India took against Nepal since the 1960s. Until today's announcement by the leader of India's ruling political party, BJP, the Indian government vehemently denied any involvement in the blockade.

Why is this announcement important in relation to Kobold? 

In 2015, just as India's blockade was starting, I flew to Nepal to make final arrangements for a shipment of fire fighting vehicles intended to be used for the so-called Fire Truck Expedition, an initiative designed to help Nepal's tourism industry get back on its feet after the small country was hit by two major earthquakes just months earlier. The earthquakes were the worst natural disasters in Nepal's history and caused a tourism to come to a virtual halt.

The Indian government mistook our expedition for a cover C.I.A. operation designed to publicize the blockade in order to cause an international outcry over the inhumane embargo. At the same time, Nepal's Prime Minister K.P. Oli charged my colleagues and me with publicizing the blockade, a request with which we complied and which culminated in a prime-time Fox News segment in which the blockade for the first time made it into the mainstream news cycle. Ten days later, India lifted the blockade as a result of many other initiatives, as well as partly because of the public humiliation as a result of the Fox News piece.

In retaliation, the Indian embassy in Kathmandu secretly orchestrated a fierce opposition to the fire truck expedition. Despite this, we are now working on delivering the fire engines to Nepal. At the same time, Kobold continues to get back on its feet, with customers receiving their watches one by one. Progress has been made, but we are working on doing much more to rebuild the trust we enjoyed with our customers before this saga began, and to repair broken relationships. 

In 2020, Kobold will make a major announcement with regards to the future of the company. Every last customer will have received his or her watch by that time. My colleagues and I are committed to building Kobold back better and stronger than it was before ex-employees colluded to sabotage the company. 

To all the loyal Koboldians who understood that this was a mission worth embarking on, despite the considerable loss of reputation and goodwill -thank you for your support, I will show you my personal gratitude in the course of time. To everyone else: My sincere apologies. My team and I endeavor to make this up to all of you.

Sincerely yours,
Michael Kobold 

READ: India acknowledges Blockade

READ: India acknowledged Blockade (Part II)

READ: The Nepal Controversies

###

 

Dear Friends and Supporters,

On January 1st, 2015, following the passing of my dear friend and collaborator, the actor James Gandolfini, a number of Kobold ambassadors and I began working on what would become known as the Fire Truck Expedition To Nepal. The expedition would be held in Jim's honor.

A few years earlier, I had come up with a unique idea. Jim Gandolfini was a close friend - a man with a heart of gold who carried a very heavy load on his shoulders. Jim's success and fame led him to increasingly become reclusive. In my mind, the best thing I could do for my friend was to take him to Nepal, an amazing, exotic country where pretty much no-one would recognize the hulking actor who had become an icon in America and much of the Western world. 

We decided to drive a fire engine to Nepal. Why? Just for the fun of it. Two guys in a fire engine... We intended to donate the fire engine to the government once we reached Nepal. Later, the plan was to help raise awareness of a huge earthquake that scientists predicted to hit Nepal. The expedition never happened because Jim died a few days after we made plans for a reconnaissance trip. It was June 19, 2013.

So on January 1st, 2015 I emerged from a bout of the blues with a plan: bring more than just one fire truck to Nepal and do the trip in Jim's honor. A number of VIPs signed up and hence the fire truck expedition experienced a rebirth. 

On April 1st, 2015, I founded the Soarway Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit that today is run by the former U.S. Ambassador to Nepal, Scott H. DeLisi. Why ask a former U.S. Ambassador to run a charity that is chartered with helping Nepal in disaster risk reduction? So that everyone would understand implicitly that this is an above-board organization. Today, as I reflect on this decision, I am more convinced than ever that I could not have found a better person to run Soarway Foundation than the intrepid Ambassador. I have no day-to-day interaction with the Soarway Foundation - I am merely its proud founder. 

On April 25, 2015, three weeks after Soarway Foundation was founded, a massive earthquake shook Nepal.

A few months later, I purchased three fire engines with my own money and began the process of having them restored. The expense for doing so was not inconsiderable expense. Then, in the summer of 2015, I founded the Soarway Institute for Development, a commercial enterprise (read: "for-profit"), unrelated to the Soarway Foundation, as a corporate vehicle to export the fire trucks to Nepal. 

In September 2015 I traveled to Nepal to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Nepal (GON) to import the fire trucks. On my arrival, I discovered that India had enacted a so-called unofficial blockade against Nepal. Within a few days it became evident that this blockade was a major crisis and had a far bigger effect on the country than the two recent earthquakes. I had to make a difficult decision: return to America to save my company or help Nepal in its worst hour. After spending 17 years building a successful and rapidly expanding business, I knew that I could easily rebuild Kobold at a later time and decided in favor of helping Nepal. At the time, the watch industry was undergoing the worst crash since the quartz crisis in the 1980s. Some industry insiders even consider the 2015-2017 crisis to be worse than the quartz crisis. 

To me, the equation was simple: Kobold owed about 200 people watches. There were 28+ million Nepalese who overnight had been cut off from fuel, gas, medicine and other essential supplies. I made a decision: the brutal Himalayan winter was fast approaching and so the 200-or-so Koboldians would have to wait longer for their watches. Helping the Nepalese could not be delayed. 

I thus made a clear and conscious decision and as Kobold’s founder am prepared to bear the consequences. To those people who have had to wait (and I understand that some are still waiting): we will do whatever we can to make this up to you! You all became unwitting participants in a desperate mission to help save Nepal. 

My colleagues and I worked closely with the senior leadership of Nepal's government in the capacity of advisors to determine effective ways to encourage India to lift its unofficial blockade of Nepal. Because India also enforced a strict media blackout, our plan called for a high-profile media campaign to alert the world of the  plight of the people of Nepal. We then implemented just such a media campaign and orchestrated the airing of the first major news segment about the blockade on U.S. network television. In the middle of the hotly-contested U.S. presidential primary, India's blockade became primetime news.

After India lifted the blockade, my associates and I assumed that the fire truck expedition would fare better. Various political and bureaucratic hurdles would add further delays to the project, however, causing our title sponsor to back out. This meant the expedition lost $650,000 sponsorship. Until then, all costs related to the fire truck project, including advising Nepal's leadership during the blockade, were borne by me and sponsorship would simply have been a way for me to recoup my outlay, pay for the shipping of the trucks and for the production of a highly compelling documentary film about the expedition. 

The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and its visionary leadership saw in the fire truck expedition a unique marketing opportunity. After the two earthquakes and the blockade, which was enforced before the start of tourist season, Nepal's tourism industry was weakened considerably. The fire truck expedition, with its international celebrity drivers, would be a novel way to attract visitors to Nepal. 

Our MOU with NTB, has two prime objectives: to encourage a number of international VIPs to visit Nepal in order to promote Nepal tourism. The fire trucks were simply a huge red "prop", much like in Hollywood movies, to add to the strong visuals of Nepal's majestic natural beauty and to give the celebrities a noble cause and one more reason to visit Nepal. To date, we have over-delivered on each of the objectives outlined with regards to the number of VIPs whom we hosted in Nepal, and the amount of publicity these visits generated for Nepal. This despite the fact that not a single fire truck has been shipped to Nepal (yet!). Consider this: if we’re able to do this much without fire trucks, just imagine what we’ll be able to do once the fire trucks arrive in Nepal. 

In the meantime, Kobold Watch Company has slowly begun to heal from the damage sustained over the past few years. Willful sabotage by former employees and my absence led to the company breaking down. However, I maintain that had these former employees acted in good faith and in accordance with my instructions, the company would have been fine. Late last year, an unscrupulous blogger made a series of colorful allegations against me and the company that bears my name. When I first read this blogger’s post, I felt as if I was in a dream. The second time I read it, I laughed. The accusations leveled by this blogger are so outrageous and so easy to prove as being fabricated or at least distorted that I envisioned soon being the owner of a rapidly dying watch community site.
Among the most outrageous allegations was the accusation that I embezzled funds from the Navy SEAL Warrior Fund, which was co-founded (and is currently overseen) by a good friend of mine. To date, every U.S. Navy SEAL I have befriended remains a steadfast friend. Only someone with limited mental capacity would invent a scheme to defraud a charity for wounded Navy SEALs and for the survivors of deceased SEALs. To refute each and every misguided allegation would require me to write a book. Suffice it to say, none of the allegations leveled against me are correct. Furthermore, I have an abundance of evidence that will convince any objective observer that this was a hatchet job fueled by misinformation provided by the same former employees who sabotaged Kobold Watch’s operations. 
 
Despite all of these hurdles, today, we are a new, smaller team and we are fully determined to deliver every single outstanding watch.
 
Our customer service department is situated in Nepal, manufacturing continued to be based in the U.S., and until the fire trucks finally arrive in Nepal, I will be dividing my time working on both Kobold and the expedition. Once the expedition is over, I will fully devote myself to Kobold again. After that, my team and I will work hard to rebuild the trust we’ve broken with so many loyal supporters. 
 
This statement is only part of the story. You can read more on www.michaelkobold.com, the articles posted to this site paint a more detailed picture of the considerable obstacles both Kobold and the fire truck expedition faced in the last four years. 
 
Thank you for your support and please remember: I didn’t build a successful, highly-respected brand for 17 years to let it die. Kobold will be stronger and better than before.

As ever - Embrace Adventure!

-Michael