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Review of the Swatch Sistem 51

by Joe Koh on February 14, 2014

A collector’s take on the Swatch Sistem 51, and a nice story on how he acquired it.

– Editor

The Swatch Sistem 51: a new, fun Swatch watch. Available in 4 colours.

The Swatch Sistem 51: a new, fun Swatch watch. Available in 4 colours.

As a modest collector of Swatch watches (about 40 pieces to date), I was very excited when Swatch announced that they are going to make a new model done entirely by robots and contain only 51 parts (hence the model number).

All in a row, the Swatch Sistem 51 in the 4 available colours: blue, red, white and black.

All in a row, the Swatch Sistem 51 in the 4 available colours: blue, red, white and black.

With a power reserve of 90 hrs, I find that this is an incredible feat. And to top it all off, the 51 parts are all assembled with a single screw in the plastic case without a regulator!. How fantastic is that !!Enquiries to our local Swatch shops gave an estimated 2nd quarter launch. Felt very disappointed.

Swatch Sistem 51 in black.

Swatch Sistem 51 in black.

I find this model to be a step forward for Swatch. It used to be fun but quartz….battery hassle, battery leak. But now its fun and self-winding. With the subtle difference in color, each of the 4 colors are unique by itself. The side of the round rotor and movement is stamped with the color of the watch which I find very nice as it blends in with the case color. Even the second hand is of the same color of the model, as with the brand name/logo at 12 o’clock. The date numerals on the red model is red whereas the blue one is white and the black model black on a white disc. These small details make the different colors more unique to each and the desire to collect all 4.

Swatch Sistem 51, black, view of the display case back showing the transparent rotor and psychedelic patterns on the movement.

Swatch Sistem 51, black, view of the display case back showing the transparent rotor and psychedelic patterns on the movement.

….and now my story

Swatch Sistem 51 in blue, my favourite colour!

Swatch Sistem 51 in blue, my favourite colour!

When a trip to SIHH this year took me to Geneva, I told myself that I would not leave without getting one on my wrist. Lo and behold, the Swatch shops had them but seems like the color blue was sold out in the town shop that I was in….more desirable? And blue was my favourite colour! Haiz! Anyway, passion took over and I bought  4 Sistem 51: one red and black for myself, and another 2 blacks for some friends back home.

Movement side of the Swatch Sistem 51, blue.

Movement side of the Swatch Sistem 51, blue.

At the end of the trip, when we were at the Geneva airport, I saw another Swatch shop. Surprisingly, they have one last blue! Immediately I told the pretty sales assistant that I wanted it! But to qualify for the de-tax, I had to buy another one…so be it; I was too excited to think rationally. Too excited that I was, and grabbed a white one. But in my excitement, I did not realise that I had mistakenly taken another black…But never mind that…I had my blue Swatch Sistem 51! And I am a happy man.

Swatch Sistem 51 in red.

Swatch Sistem 51 in red.

On the first day of the Lunar New Year , I decided to wear the red one (red being the auspicious colour for the Chinese). And this is the first time I’m taking the watch out of the box. The first thing that caught my eyes was the clear rotor on the back and immediately it reminds me of my favorite Vianney Halter classic. The rotor is a bit rough when its twirling on your hands but you can’t feel anything when its on the wrist.

Swatch Sistem 51, red, caseback, showing the red markings on the movement bridge, visible through the transparent rotor.

Swatch Sistem 51, red, caseback, showing the red markings on the movement bridge, visible through the transparent rotor.

It has been on my wrist since the first day of the Lunar New Year and I can say that the accuracy is excellent. I’m not too technical so the few seconds plus or minus don’t affect me that much as long as the minute hand is the same as my iPhone. Anyway, don’t forget that this is only Swiss Fr150.

Swatch Sistem 51 in white, the one which got away.

Swatch Sistem 51 in white, the one which got away.

Downside for me is the date…too small but having said that, I rarely change the dates of my watches as I wear a different one on everyday.
Telling time on the go is ok unless you have the sun shining on the watch, then it would be a bit confusing as the end of the hour and minute hands are white…same as the dots and lines on the dial.

The colourful movement bridges of the Swatch Sistem 51 in white.

The colourful movement bridges of the Swatch Sistem 51 in white.

Since the case is plastic, no worry of having to spend thousands of dollars polishing of the dinks! The strap is very comfortable as its plastic and only the black model comes with a leather band. The subtle difference like red stitching on the red model and blue stitching on the blue model brings back memories of my Swatches where I try to match my clothes…. Very subtle yet different. And no worries of sweat on a $700 alligator/crocodile strap either.

A tribute to Nicholas Hayek, who reinvented the Swiss watchmaking industry with the creation of Swatch. Now the Swatch Group is a powerful conglomerate with many watchmaking interests.

A tribute to Nicholas Hayek, who reinvented the Swiss watchmaking industry with the creation of Swatch. Now the Swatch Group is a powerful conglomerate with many watchmaking interests.

Overall, I think it’s still a fun Swatch and at the same time a horological marvel. Its simply a fun mechanical watch.

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