Collector's Corner: Swatch Watch
By Michele Alice
It's not Rolex or Cartier, but it's much more fun - and much less expensive - to collect. It's the Swatch!
Appearing on the scene in 1983, the plastic (yes, plastic!) Swatch rode to the rescue of the then ailing Swiss watch industry. Swatch represented an affordable, yet hip and technologically advanced alternative to the Asian imports flooding the world's markets.
Today, Swatch Group Ltd is the world's largest manufacturer of watches and watch movements. They control over one and a half dozen well-known brands including marquee names like Breguet, Omega, and Tiffany, but Swatch remains their biggest seller.
Some 2000 different designs have found their way onto wrists and into collections since the original 12 watches were released in March 1983. New models generally make their debuts twice yearly as members of five design "families" - Originals (plastic case), Skin (ultra-thin case), Beat (digital), Bijoux (jewelry line), and Irony (metal case). These groupings are further divided into sub-families. Most retail for between $50 and $150.
Collectors have been willing to pay from $50 to $1000+ for the privilege of acquiring pieces that have been retired or that are "errors," variations, or prototypes, but the specimens that really set hearts pounding are the extremely limited editions like the Art Specials and the Original Jelly. The Original Jelly, with a production run of just 200, was given to journalists at the late 1982 launch of the company brand. Today, an Original Jelly can easily fetch several thousand dollars at auction. The first Art Special - Kiki Picasso (1985) - was limited to just 140 pieces (some sources cite 120). Today, it can be worth over $20,000 depending on condition!
But it doesn't take a mint to start a collection if you concentrate on newer models that have not yet acquired the "vintage" cachet (or the price tags!). Just remember to buy what you like, for though they may or may not become highly valuable, at least you can enjoy them!
If interested in learning more about Swatch watches, check out the links below, and
Swatch-Clopedia - This site has updates and corrections to the books that can be purchased from Squiggly's Watch World.
Robert Allsopp's Chronosphere - Link - Great site offers tips on what to collect, how to display, deciphering the production codes, etc.
Squiggly's Watch World - Link - Site has pics of every Swatch model since 1983.
Swatch - Link - Official website has history, news, current collection, more.
Swatch The Club - Link - Membership in official club includes a limited edition Club Watch.
Swatch Watch Kollektionen - Link - Swatch company chronology and lots of great pics of watches and accessories.
About the author:
Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more! Email her at makalice @ adelphia.net eBay ID: Malice9
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