- Hodinkee, a respected watch website, has collaborated with Swatch on an inexpensive, limited edition Sistem51 automatic watch.
- The price is $150 – no premium on the current Sistem51 tag.
- The design was inspired by a 1984 Swatch.
The Swatch Sistem51 was already a cool watch. The Swiss company rolled out the innovative, relatively inexpensive timepiece – $150, automatic, built by robots and featuring a mere 51 components – in 2013.
Since then, the Sistem51 lineup has grown. I bought an original Sistem51 right after it came out and loved it.
The folks at Hodinkee, one of the web’s finest resources for horological news and culture, has produced a number of limited-edition watches in collaboration with big brands. My personal favorite is a $7,900 piece they worked on with Zenith.
That’s a decent chunk of change, so if you’re on a tight budget but adore watches, Hodinkee’s latest effort will make you jump for joy.
They’ve created a special Hodinkee Sistem51 that they’re calling Vintage 84, a reference to an actual Swatch design from the 1984 Spring collection. That watch was quartz powered, as were the vast majority of Swatches, developed as an affordable “second watch” and as a Swiss pushback against Asian watches that had rocked the traditional European redoubt of horology.
It’s automatic, but inexpensive
The Hodinkee Swatch is of course automatic. There was some skepticism about the quality of a machine-made movement in a $150 watch when the Sistem51 first arrived. But in my case, the movement has been perfectly robust, ticking away for about three years. And regardless, the Hodinkee has always been big on the whole Sistem51 proposition, seeing it as an ideal gateway to mechanical watch ownership. (The Sistem51 is powered by the movement of the wearer’s body, it has a 90-hour power reserve, and can be manually wound.)
The looks of the Hodinkee Swatch really appeal to me.
“We wanted to embrace the essence of Swatch, and find a way to channel the brand’s game-changing past into a watch that felt forward-looking rather than nostalgic,” the site’s editors wrote to introduce the watch, which is officially on sale for $150 and will commence deliveries on December 12 (pre-orders are being taken now).
The design is a tremendous improvement over its inspiration and will win the hearts of anyone who likes silver-face pieces; what we have here is lovely brushed aluminum. The indices are dive-watch like and have lume, and the Vintage 84 is large but not massive.
Swatches wear light, however, even the autos like the Sistem51, and the Vintage 84 comes on a black silicone band with a black plastic case, so it should be plenty comfy on the wrist.
There are six red dots on the face, a reference to the six jewels in the Sistem51 movement, and the see-through caseback reveals the mechanicals as it adorned with a groovy black-and-white pattern.
Carlo Giordanetti, Swatch’s Creative Director, told me a few years back that “a Swatch collector wants to look at his or her watch and smile two or three times a day.”
Those smiles can now come from Hodinkee fans as well as Swatch enthusiasts.
(The Vintage 84 can be pre-ordered through the Hodinkee Shop, which recently upped its e-commerce efforts by joining with several big-name manufacturers to sell watches beyond the site’s limited-run models.)