Swatch’s New ‘Clearly Bold’ Watch Really Lives Up to Its Name

Welcome to Dialed In, Esquire’s weekly column bringing you horological happenings and the most essential news from the watch world since March 2020.

Swatch has been part of the watch scene for almost 40 years and it’s easy to forget the impact it had on the watchmaking industry back in 1983. That’s largely because it offered an entirely different point of view from the storied, expensive brands then struggling against the onslaught of quartz. Swatch, in contrast, dived headlong into the possibilities of the new technology and carved out a whole new fashion-centered audience for watches. Working in plastic meant many options for color and decoration; the rapid turnover of designs meant the brand could generate new watches at a rate unheard of in the industry. Ahead of the culture by almost three decades, collabs with artists and fashion designers like Keith Haring (1986) and Vivienne Westwood (1992) only accelerated the mania. And decades before limited-edition sneaker drops became a thing, long lines would form outside Swatch stores for the latest releases—joyful, iconoclastic celebrations of the plastic arts.

Yet while Swatch watches were accessibly priced—the debut watch in 1983 cost around $30—they quickly became objects of curiously inverted cachet amongst European businessmen who could easily afford a Rolex or three. Worn with a suit, a colorful Swatch implied an unstuffy sense of creativity to puncture the professional gravitas. Interestingly, in case you didn’t know, Swatch was not a contraction of “Swiss” and “watch,” as most people assume, but of “second” and “watch”—based on the idea that once you have a serious watch you can then be more playful with your second one. This was nowhere truer than in Italy, where grown-ass men competed with each other to nab the latest Swatch first. You still see that sartorial x Swatch mashup on occasion today in places like Milan and Florence. Which is another reason why at Esquire we always love a new Swatch.

Case in point is the brand-new Swatch Clear collection, a range of pieces from a titchy 34mm all the way up to a whopping 47mm diameter, all with see-through cases and matching straps. The inner quartz workings are clearly visible through an aperture in the dial which has hands picked out in primary red blue and yellow. Our favorite of the lot is the 47mm Clearly Bold, the biggest of the lot—and why not—for maximum impact with a fraction of the weight of a steel watch. Other versions are slimmer and smaller but all with the same see-through aesthetics.

Clearly Bold 47mm Watch



Interestingly, at the diametric opposite end of the watch market from Swatch, certain high-end brands have been experimenting with clear watch cases made entirely from sapphire crystal—a monumental combination of engineering and alchemy that, unsurprisingly, commands seriously high prices. At the earthbound end of the market, Swatch did it way back in 1985 with its first Gent, a clear watch nicknamed the Jelly Fish. Less engineering perhaps, but just as much imagination. Nice to know you can be squarely on-trend for $110, isn’t it?

Nick Sullivan is Creative Director at Equire, where he served as Fashion Director from 2004 until 2019.

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Source : Esquire