10 Best Swatch Watches With Playful Designs

Jul 28, 2020
10 Best Swatch Watches With Playful Designs

Back in elementary, Swatch watches were the norm. You were considered as one of the “cool kids” if you have that plastic band wrapped around your wrist. In fact, I’ll bet my bottom dollar that to many of us, Swatch was the entry point to the fascinating world of horology.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking that Swatch watches are just about the gimmick. In fact, it saved the Swiss watch industry from the brink of falling. Read on to know more about its history.

Swatch watches
Photo from Anthony Kwan, Getty Images

History of Swatch Watches

Swiss watches are known for their high-quality mechanical movements. It is also known that they come with an extremely expensive price tag. Switzerland was the leading country when it comes to watches. However, the Japanese had a trick up their sleeves — the introduction of quartz watches. Suddenly, customers preferred the battery-powered ones to the mechanical timepieces.

This point in time is what we now call the “Quartz Crisis”. The demand for mechanical watches plummeted that Swiss watch shops started closing here and there. In fact, a lot of people thought that it was the end of an era.

To clarify, mechanical watch enthusiasts were not the only people affected by the Quartz Crisis. In fact, the whole Swiss economy was in turmoil. Especially considering that the watch industry was big in the country. A number of factories were closed, thus leaving thousands of people unemployed.

Saving the Swiss Watch Industry

Things were starting to get out of hand and somebody had to do something. So during the early ’80s, a small team of watch engineers headed by Ernst Thomke began developing something unique and special. The goal was simple — to create a watch that is both durable and inexpensive.

But the Japanese were already offering cheap and reliable watches. With that said, they had to think of another gimmick to catch people’s attention. So they did something out of the ordinary — they turned watches into a fashion statement.

After consulting with designers and brainstorming marketing strategies, they were ready to lift the Swiss watch industry back to its feet. So on March 1, 1983, they introduced the first collection of Swatch watches. The lineup consisted of 12 designs with a price tag ranging from $44 to $55. Without a doubt, that price range alone is enough to catch the attention of people.

A brilliant marketing strategy, an affordable price tag, and eye-catching designs. Swatch watches really hit the right formula that got them to its current status.

Swatch watches
Photo from Swatch Facebook page

Secondary Watch

Contrary to popular belief, the name Swatch doesn’t come from “Swiss watch”. In truth, it is a contraction of the words “secondary” and “watch”. The idea was that Swatch watches should be affordable enough for you to have a rotation. Think of it like a necktie or jacket, which you can change depending on your mood or outfit.

Needless to say, the gimmick was well-received by the market. Aside from the plethora of design options, the watch was ridiculously cheap. Indeed, it is not unusual for people to have two to three Swatch watches in their watch box.

With that, Swatch watches gained popularity. Thus, it helped provide jobs for the watchmakers who lost their livelihood due to the Quartz Crisis. Apart from that, the Swiss watch industry started gaining back the trust of the market.

What Makes Swatch Watches Cheap?

Cheap doesn’t necessarily mean low quality, and Swatch watches are proof of that. Here are a few things that the brand does to keep the price tag of their watches low.

1. They use more affordable materials.

The most common way to keep prices low is to use cheaper materials. So instead of stainless steel, most Swatch watches are made with plastic. Despite the use of plastic, Swatch did not compromise on durability. In fact, they use a durable mineral crystal over the dial to protect their watches.

2. They are equipped with quartz instead of mechanical movements.

As mentioned above, Swatch was founded with a purpose in mind — to compete with affordable quartz watches. With that said, it was inevitable for the brand to use a quartz movement instead of mechanical ones. And this allowed the brand to keep its price tag low.

However, Swatch has recently created their own collection of automatic watches which are just as impressive as their quartz.

Recommended Swatch Watches

Swatch Sistem51 Pilote

1. Swatch Sistem51 Pilote

Why is it good?

Let’s start the list off with one of Swatch’s newest masterpieces. As mentioned above, Swatch watches use a quartz movement to keep prices low. However, they took things a step further by making an affordable automatic watch that is reliable. This is where the Swatch Sistem51 Pilote comes in.

This elegant timepiece uses the Sistem51 automatic movement, which has a power reserve of a whopping 90 hours. Apart from that, the case material is made with stainless steel instead of the usual plastic. This gives the watch a very premium feel.

When it comes to design, the dial comes with a window in a half-moon shape. This allows you to see the automatic movement inside. And to complete the look, the watch comes with a classy black leather strap.

Among the watches on the list, this model is the most elegant. In fact, you can get away with wearing it with a blazer or a sport coat.

Swatch Sistem51 Pilote Specs:

  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 90 hours
  • Water Resistance: 30m

Swatch Big Bold Jelly (SO27E100)

2. Swatch Big Bold Jelly (SO27E100)

Why is it good?

Who says that open-worked dials are only for mechanical watches? The Swatch Big Bold Jelly (SO27E100) is perfect for those who love watching the insides of their watches. Both its case and dial are made of transparent material to let you see the movement. In fact, this model is a recreation of the brand’s iconic Jelly Fish watch that was introduced back in 1983.

As part of the Big Bold lineup, this model comes in a large 47mm case size. Making it obvious that the watch is for making a fashion statement. On top of the transparent dial, you’ll find the colour-coordinated hands with the three primary colours. The hour hand comes in red, the minute hand is in blue, and lastly, the seconds hand is in yellow. In my opinion, the choice of colours is an excellent way to make the watch more visually interesting against the transparent dial and case.

Like the case and dial, its strap is also made with semi-transparent silicone. And at the back is a fully transparent case back to admire the quartz movement in its full glory.

Apart from the size, this model looks like a carbon copy of the original Jelly Fish watch. With that said, this watch model is perfect for those who feel nostalgic for the early Swatch watches released in the ’80s.

Swatch Big Bold Jelly (SO27E100) Specs:

  • Case Material: Plastic
  • Dimensions: 47mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Water Resistance: 30m

Swatch Louvre Special Edition L.E.P.

3. Swatch Louvre Special Edition L.E.P.

Why is it good?

Art lovers, this one’s for you! The Swatch Louvre Special Edition L.E.P. brings your favourite painting to your wrist. This model features the famous work Liberty Leading the People made by Eugène Delacroix. 

A depiction of Liberty holding the French flag can be seen on the dial all the way to the lower strap. Meanwhile, the upper part of the strap is in blue while the case itself is in white. This is to mimic the colour combination of the flag of France.

Indeed, this watch is an excellent way to express your love for museums. Apart from the L.E.P., the other Swatch watches in the Louvre collection are worth looking at. In particular, the Mona Lisa and Henry IV of France models are as eye-catching as the L.E.P.

Swatch Louvre Special Edition L.E.P. Specs:

  • Case Material: Plastic
  • Dimensions: 41mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Water Resistance: 30m

Swatch Mono Black Quartz

4. Swatch Mono Black Quartz

Why is it good?

It is a given that Swatch watches have loud and flamboyant designs. However, they also know how to design low-key models. One good example is the Swatch Mono Black Quartz. This model boasts its clean and sophisticated aesthetic that is perfect for the minimalist in you.

To demonstrate, the watch’s strap, case, and dial are all in black. What’s more interesting is that the dial is not made with a normal material. It gives off a black mirror-effect that will make the watch stand out despite its monochromatic nature. And to give it that classic black-and-white look, the hour markers and hands are in white.

Legibility is also a top priority when it comes to its design. The hour markers are applied with SuperLuminova so you can still read it in the dark. Apart from that, Swatch added a small day-date window beside 3 o’clock.

In my opinion, this watch is perfect for those looking for a no-frills watch with a contemporary look.

Swatch Mono Black Quartz Specs:

  • Case Material: Plastic
  • Dimensions: 41mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Water Resistance: 30m

Swatch Irony Night Flight

5. Swatch Irony Night Flight

Why is it good?

Swatch watches are also present in the chronograph department. While most of Swatch’s lineup includes time-only watches, the Swatch Irony Night Flight boasts a chronograph function. Three subdials are located at the 2, 6, and 10 o’clock positions. 

The one beside the 2 o’clock position displays the 1/100 seconds. Meanwhile, you can see the chronograph minute tracker at 10 o’clock and the running seconds sub-dial is displayed above 6 o’clock.

And unlike the other models on this list, this one is made with a stainless steel case instead of plastic. This material gives the watch extra points when it comes to durability. At the back, a battery hatch is located. Thus, making it convenient for the wearer to open the case back and replace the battery when it runs out of power.

If you’re looking for a chronograph that is very affordable, you can never go wrong with the Swatch Iron Night Flight.

Swatch Irony Night Flight Specs:

  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Dimensions: 43mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Water Resistance: 30m

Swatch New Gent Kiwi Vibes

6. Swatch New Gent Kiwi Vibes

Why is it good?

The Swatch New Gent Kiwi Vibes is a playful way to spice up your outfit. As its name suggests, it comes in a translucent green case and strap. While the inside of the dial is also made with the same green material, its crystal is see-through so you can admire the quartz movement inside. Indeed, kiwi is the first thing you’ll think of when you see this watch.

In spite of its playful colour scheme, the watch is fairly easy to read. Its crystal dial is printed with black indexes as hour markers. The hour and minute hands come in a neutral black and white colour scheme as well. But to break the monotony of the dial’s design, the seconds hand comes in a bright orange hue that complements the case well.

With that said, the Swatch New Gent Kiwi Vibes is ideal for the modern gents who want to add a splash of colour to their wardrobe.

Swatch New Gent Kiwi Vibes Specs:

  • Case Material: Plastic
  • Dimensions: 41mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Water Resistance: 30m

Swatch Elementary SUOB728

7. Swatch Elementary SUOB728

Why is it good?

Feeling nostalgic? The Swatch Elementary SUOB728 will make you feel like a kid again with its back-to-basics design. Against a white dial background, you get large hour markers in Arabic numerals. Meanwhile, all three hands come in each primary colour. The hour hand is blue, the minute hand is red, and the seconds hand is yellow.

Apart from having a minimalistic Bauhaus design, the watch is also pleasant to read as it’s easy to spot the hands. There is also a small day-date window at the left of the 3 o’clock marker. It comes in a black background with white font.

With that being said, the Swatch Elementary SUOB728 is simple yet catchy. It is reminiscent of the wall clocks that you see in classrooms back in your kindergarten or elementary days.

Swatch Elementary SUOB728 Specs:

  • Case Material: Plastic
  • Dimensions: 41mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Water Resistance: 30m

Swatch Polablue SUOK711

8. Swatch Polablue SUOK711

Why is it good?

The Swatch Polablue SUOK711 is part of the Transformation collection of Swatch watches. Released during Spring-Summer of 2019, this colourful watch is the perfect companion to the beach. True enough, its colourway will easily match summer dresses and linen shirts.

When it comes to design, the case itself is made of transparent plastic. While the case itself is clear, the blue dial comes in a gradient pattern. It is lightest on the top-left corner and becomes darker as you move down to the bottom-right spot. The hands, hour markers, and date all come in a metallic orange that blends in well with the background. And at the top, the whole dial is protected by a Solar Spectrum glass to make it more durable.

With its playful aesthetic, this watch is perfect for people who want a casual watch that they can wear to beach trips or barbeque parties.

Swatch Polablue SUOK711 Specs:

  • Case Material: Plastic
  • Dimensions: 41mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Water Resistance: 30m

Swatch Orange Tire

9. Swatch Orange Tire

Why is it good?

Looking for a funky chronograph watch? You don’t have to look any further than the Swatch Orange Tire. This watch is perfect for the motorsports lover who wants to show their playful side. Staying true to its name, its strap is made with a textured rubber strap that looks like a tyre.

Both the dial and the case come in a unique and eye-catching colour combination. The dial is dominantly black with orange hour markers. And to keep things interesting, the watch designers sprinkled a few light blue accents here and there. Additionally, the two pusher buttons at the side of the case also come in a light blue colour.

When it comes to functions, the watch features three sub-dials for the chronograph. One is for the minute tracker and another is for the running seconds. The last one is for the 1/100 seconds tracker. So to conclude, the Swatch Orange Tire is perfect for those who love the playful nature of Swatch watches but need the functionality of a chronograph.

Swatch Orange Tire Specs:

  • Case Material: Plastic
  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Water Resistance: 30m

Swatch Sistem51 Polka

10. Swatch Sistem51 Polka

Why is it good?

People know Swatch watches for their quartz movements. After all, the Swiss originally made the brand to compete with the battery-powered Japanese timepieces. However, the Swiss watchmaker started incorporating good old automatic movements with the Sistem51 collection.

With that said, the Swatch Sistem51 Polka runs on Swatch’s own Sistem51 automatic movement. What’s impressive is that the calibre has a power reserve of up to 90 hours when fully wound. That’s more than double the average power reserve!

Apart from its excellent movement, this model also shines in the design department. Its strap, case, and dial are dominantly white with a colourful polka dot print index. Meanwhile, the case back is more colourful with its blue, orange, and yellow polka dots.

Swatch Sistem51 Polka Specs:

  • Case Material: Plastic
  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 90 hours
  • Water Resistance: 30m

Final Notes

With its very affordable price tag, Swatch watches are an excellent way to get into horology. If you’re looking for a casual watch that you can mix and match with your outfit every day, this is a solid brand to consider.

 

Confused about what COSC means when checking out watch reviews? Take a look at our comprehensive guide on COSC here!

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