I am excited to announce that our very own Joe Thompson has been selected by Jewelers of America (JA) as the recipient of the 2016 GEM Award for Lifetime Achievement.
JA is the national trade association for businesses serving the fine jewelry marketplace. In making the announcement, JA explained that “the GEM Award for Lifetime Achievement is granted to an individual for an accumulated career’s worth of contributions to the fine jewelry and watch industry. Honorees set a standard of excellence that serves as an inspiration to industry colleagues.”
Joe is the first journalist or member of the media to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in the 14-year history of the GEM Awards. “Blending a passion for his subject, a commitment to in-depth reporting and journalistic integrity, Joe Thompson is considered one of the watch industry’s most knowledgeable observers,” JA said in its announcement of the selection.
Joe began his watch journalism career in 1977 at JCK magazine. From 1982 to 1996 he was editor-in-chief (and eventually publishing director) of Modern Jeweler magazine. Under his direction, MJ became known for independent, in-depth reporting and analysis of the watch and jewelry industries, winning 18 awards for editorial excellence from the American Business Press.
In 1996, Joe left Modern Jeweler to focus exclusively on watch reporting as the founding editor of American Time magazine. He joined WatchTime in 2000.
He is often consulted by the mainstream media on watches and watch market developments. He has been quoted in dozens of newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The International New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, Forbes, The Christian Science Monitor, BBC.com, Sports Illustrated, and Switzerland’s Neue Züricher Zeitung. He has been interviewed about watches on CNBC, National Public Radio, WNBC New York, WABC New York and the Fashion News Channel. In addition, his articles about watches have appeared in Esquire, Town & Country, Golf Digest and Bilanz, Switzerland’s top business magazine.
JA noted that, under Joe’s leadership, WatchTime has developed a global influence. In 2012, India’s Mint business magazine, a partner of The Wall Street Journal, called WatchTime “the gold standard in international specialist watch magazines. Joe Thompson and his team have produced arguably the most influential watch magazine in the world. With an unmatched reputation for editorial independence, WatchTime is where connoisseurs and collectors go for an honest, educated opinion.”
Joe has won nine editorial excellence awards from the American Business Press, and two from Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists.
Norman Miller, executive vice president and publisher of Elite Traveler, is chairman of the GEM Awards. “Knowing Joe Thompson for more than 30 years, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the GEM Award Committee’s choice of him as our Lifetime Achievement Award winner,” Miller said in JA’s announcement. “Joe embodies the spirit of what this award is about. His career has been dedicated to illuminating the fascinating business of our industry.”
Joe told me that he was shocked when Miller gave him the news. “Honors like this normally go to people that we cover,” he said, “not the scribblers who cover them. This is exceedingly gracious of JA.”
The award will be presented at JA’s GEM Awards gala dinner on Jan. 8 in New York City. Please join me in congratulating Joe on this extraordinary and well-deserved career achievement.