Swatch Sistem51 Irony

Time Savers that also Save Money

Words: Gisbert L Brunner

The Swatch Sistem51 Irony is a watch you can actually afford. Here are four watches that won’t break the bank

A LESSON IN PARTS: Swatch Sistem51 Irony

To the casual observer, a Swatch might seem lowbrow. Cheap, even. But that’s to miss the significance of the timepiece that saved the Swiss watch industry. In 1983, the Japanese-led quartz revolution (or as it’s still known in Switzerland – the quartz crisis) had all but destroyed the mechanical watch business and reduced Swiss share of the global market from 50 per cent to 15.

Salvation came from a masterclass in economy. The first Swatch, released in 1983, reduced the number of parts from 91 to 51 and the manufacturing cost by 80 per cent. This synthetic quartz watch wasn’t luxury, instead it became a fashion icon. Today, Swatch is the world’s largest watch company, owner of luxury brands like Omega and Breguet, but it still makes economically priced timepieces, and is still whipping up a revolution.

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It may not use luxury materials, but Swatch’s Sistem51 Irony range is premium. The 42mm case is injection-moulded stainless steel hermetically sealed to three bars of water resistance, and straps range from rubber on the Arrow, shown here, to stainless steel links.

© youtube // swatch

Sistem51 is named for its components, the same number as in Swatch’s first quartz watch, except, incredibly, this one is mechanical and every one of those parts is held together by a single screw. Made by robots, the case is laser-welded shut, its self-winding innards unable to be accessed for repair. Some would call that disposable, but Swatch has already proven to be anything but.

Three more watches that won’t break the bank
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02 2017 The Red Bulletin

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