Last year, the Swatch Group sent shockwaves through the watch industry with its announcement of the Omega X Swatch collection. This collection comprised 11 bio-ceramic watches featuring quartz movements, closely resembling the iconic Omega Speedmaster Moon Watch in design.
These watches experienced an unprecedented level of success, with eager customers forming never-ending queues outside Swatch boutiques worldwide. People anxiously waited, hoping to step inside the store and secure one of these coveted timepieces. In fact, many customers didn’t even have a specific watch in mind; they simply purchased whatever was available, just to have the chance to own one of these remarkable watches.
Over the past 18 months since the collection’s launch, the initial fervor surrounding these watches has somewhat subsided as demand has stabilized. The phenomenon of individuals reselling these watches for exorbitant markups, hundreds of percentage points above their retail prices, has all but disappeared.
Imagine you’re in the position of the Swatch Group; how would you go about reviving the excitement? The solution is straightforward: introduce a brand-new line of bio-ceramic watches, this time proudly bearing the prestigious Blancpain name and showcasing the iconic Fifty Fathoms timepiece.
Now, let’s embark on a journey to discover the latest offerings from Blancpain and Swatch,. We’ll delve into what makes these watches special and explore the burning question: Can the Swatch Group once again astonish the world of watchmaking?
The Swatch x Blancpain BioCeramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms is a stunning fusion of innovation and sustainability. With a 42.3mm diameter and a 14.4mm thickness, this timepiece is a modern marvel. Its bioceramic case and crown are available in a captivating array of colors, including beige, yellow-orange, blue, green, and ice-white. The uni-directional rotating bezel, crafted from the same durable bioceramic material, features an anti-scratch coating and is offered in vibrant shades of orange, black, blue, or grey, with a precise 60-minute scale.
The watch’s dial showcases a mesmerizing gradient design, adorned with luminous markers and hands. Choose from a variety of dial options, such as beige with “No radiation” and no date, white gradient with a date function, blue gradient with a date display, green gradient with a date complication, or a grey gradient with a moisture indicator and no date. Beneath the surface, the Sistem51 mechanical movement powers this timepiece, featuring automatic winding, 51 components, 19 jewels, and a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour. Impressively, it boasts a substantial 90-hour power reserve, ensuring that you stay on time for extended periods. The watch’s ocean-themed illustrations and nudibranch decorations are digitally printed, adding a unique touch of artistry.
In a nod to sustainability, the strap of the Swatch x Blancpain BioCeramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms is crafted from recycled fishing nets collected from the sea, further emphasizing the commitment to environmental responsibility. The strap is secured with a bioceramic pin buckle and loops, offering both durability and eco-conscious design. With references named after the world’s oceans, such as Arctic Ocean (orange), Pacific Ocean (yellow), Atlantic Ocean (blue), Indian Ocean (green), and Antarctic Ocean (white), this collection not only celebrates the marine environment but also serves as a testament to the marriage of cutting-edge materials and timeless craftsmanship in the world of horology.
As mentioned above, The Swatch x Blancpain BioCeramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms collection offers a range of captivating references, each inspired by different oceans and characterized by unique colors:
- Arctic Ocean (orange) SO35N100: This vibrant orange timepiece is reminiscent of the Arctic Ocean’s icy landscapes and is a bold choice for those who seek adventure.
- Pacific Ocean (yellow) SO35P100: The Pacific Ocean reference is adorned with a cheerful yellow hue, symbolizing the ocean’s warmth and radiance.
- Atlantic Ocean (blue) SO35A100: The deep blue color of the Atlantic Ocean reference evokes the mysterious and captivating nature of this vast body of water.
- Indian Ocean (green) SO35I100: The green reference pays homage to the Indian Ocean’s lush and diverse marine life, making it an excellent choice for nature enthusiasts.
- Antarctic Ocean (white) SO35S100: The Antarctic Ocean reference, in pristine white, reflects the purity and serenity of this remote and unspoiled region.
These exquisite timepieces are exclusively available at selected Swatch stores, ensuring that enthusiasts and collectors have access to this limited-edition collection. As of September 9th, 2023, the Swatch x Blancpain BioCeramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms watches are priced at EUR 390 or USD 400, making them not only environmentally conscious but also accessible to a wide range of watch enthusiasts who appreciate both style and sustainability.
Having explored the intricacies of these watches and their technical specifications, let’s delve into the distinctions that set them apart from the previous timepieces introduced by the Swatch Group, namely, the Moonswatch collection. In doing so, we can discern how these new watches represent an evolution from their predecessors.
The first noticeable difference is where these watches draw their inspiration from. The previous watches were all about the Omega Moonwatch, and they had names related to planets in our solar system. Now, with these new watches, which take their cues from one of the world’s most famous diving watches, they’ve gone for names inspired by the five oceans. Since they’re diving watches, you’ll see features like a bezel that looks like ceramic and has a diving scale, plus the familiar design elements from Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms watch.
The second, and arguably the most significant, distinction lies in the heart of these timepieces: their movements. In contrast to the previous watches in the series, which featured quartz movements, the new watches are equipped with automatic movements powered by Swatch’s SISTEM51 caliber. This advanced and high-tech mechanism is a marvel in itself, comprising a mere 51 components, with a single central screw holding the entire system together. This remarkable movement, safeguarded by no fewer than 16 patents, boasts an impressive power reserve of 90 hours—a duration that harmoniously aligns with the watches’ water resistance, capable of withstanding depths of up to 90 meters.
What sets this movement apart is its precision, approaching the standards of chronometer watches, thanks to laser calibration at the factory. Furthermore, it holds the distinction of being the first and only fully automated assembly of an automatic movement—crafted entirely by machines, without any human intervention.
The third distinction can be found in the price tag attached to the new watches. While the previous models were priced at approximately $260, the latest offerings command a higher cost, coming in at $400. This uptick in price is likely attributable to the more sophisticated mechanism they house.
The final two distinctions lead us into an intriguing discussion: do these new watches truly represent an “upgrade” over their predecessors? Is this a part of some kind of “evolutionary process” that the Swatch Group is guiding customers who previously purchased the Omega X Swatch collection through? Let’s delve into this.
The earlier watches essentially served as a gateway for the general public to experience the allure of Omega Moon Watch timepieces. They garnered a following not only among dedicated watch enthusiasts but also among individuals who had never encountered terms like “Omega” or “Moon Watch” before. The key to achieving this broad appeal lay in the watches’ affordability. This affordability was achieved by utilizing cost-effective materials, such as the bio-ceramic alloy, and, of course, a quartz movement.
Now, with a year and a half has passed since these watches entered the market, it appears that the Swatch Group is presenting what can be seen as a form of “upgrade” to these timepieces. This transformation takes the shape of a transition to the Blancpain X Swatch collaboration, featuring an automatic movement and a slightly elevated price point. In our perspective, this “upgrade” signifies a growth process that encompasses both the watches themselves and the consumers who embrace them.
Another facet to consider in this discourse is the voyage that the Swatch Group offers to watch buyers. While the prior series introduced them to the Moon Watch and its storied heritage, the new watches provide an opportunity to explore a different realm—the world of diving watches, a domain with a history that predates the Omega Moon Watches and moon watches in general.
The ultimate and, arguably, the most intriguing question is whether these watches will aid the Swatch Group in bolstering the future sales of Blancpain. Will the current buyers of these timepieces, as they mature, potentially complete their university studies, and embark on high-paying careers, consider purchasing a Blancpain watch since they already possess a Blancpain X Swatch timepiece?
As for the answers to these questions, they remain elusive, and open to speculation. However, one undeniable fact emerges – the online buzz and chatter surrounding these watches strongly suggest that the Swatch Group is poised to replicate the resounding success of their previous timepieces. The official sales launch commences this weekend, on the ninth of September 2023, with availability at Swatch boutiques. Additionally, you can catch a glimpse of these watches in select Blancpain boutiques, though it’s worth noting that Blancpain will not be offering them for sale.
Lastly, we’re eager to hear from you! What are your thoughts on these new watches, and do you have any insights or responses to our questions? Please feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments!
For more information about the new watches, please visit Swatch Group website.