Swatch is Building a New Kind of Timepiece Collector

Swatch has a new collaboration out; this time, with Swiss dive timepiece experts, Blancpain. This second partnership with a luxury brand on a legacy model has birthed the Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms collection consisting of five designs, each paying homage to the five oceans and the creatures that dwell within them.

The Swatch x Blancpain Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms collection

Like the Swatch x Omega ‘Moonswatch’, elements from the original Fifty Fathoms – the ‘first true diver’s watch’ – were incorporated into this Swatch collaboration. You’d be forgiven if you thought that any of the Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms timepieces are the original Fifty Fathoms from afar.

Blancpain and Swatch Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms
Side by side, the Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms and the original Fifty Fathoms look the same. Image courtesy of Blancpain

Perhaps its most distinguishing feature is its colours. Arctic Ocean is a gradient beige-coloured dial with red and beige straps, while Antarctic Ocean has different shades of grey. The Indian Ocean, with its green and orange colourway, is every inch as colourful as the orange-and-black Pacific Ocean. Atlantic Ocean, on the other hand, comes in multi-cool blue shades that, like the Pacific and Indian models, feature a date indicator between 4 and 5 o’clock.

Other standout characteristics include nudibranchs unique to each ocean illustrated on the back case of the timepieces and of course, ‘Blancpain x Swatch’ clearly written on the dial just below 12 o’clock.

Swatch and the making of a new kind of timepiece collector
The Bioceramic scuba fifty fathoms Atlantic
The Atlantic model has a date indicator, just like the Indian and Pacific Ocean models. Image courtesy of Swatch

Every collection starts with a reason unique to the collector, but as they grow, all collections, whether they be art or timepieces, begin to have certain common underlying factors: the pieces they contain are timeless; they have and tell a story; they evoke emotion, and, are almost always made of/from quality materials.

It is these qualities that make Rolexes, Omegas, Patek Philippes, Audemars Piguets and Cartiers highly collectible pieces. However, any model from such brands is almost always out of the reach of average individuals because of their high price points.

The Blancpain x Swatch arctic ocean model
The red trefoil logo at 6 o’clock on the Artic Ocean model is the same symbol Blancpain used when it launched the first diver’s watch to indicate the total absence of radium. Image courtesy of Swatch

Swatch has never aimed to compete on this level, not because it cannot make high-priced, complicated pieces, but because the very ethos of its existence is rooted in mass-produced pieces available to just about everyone. But, as this article points out, the Swiss king of quartz has still always somehow managed to make collectible pieces for a different kind of collector that has not always been highly regarded in the world of haute horology.

The indian ocean model from the blancpain x swatch collaboration
Each of the pieces in this collection runs on the fully automatic SISTEM51 movement. Image courtesy of Swatch

That is changing. The playful brand that is as Swiss as they come is redefining who a ‘serious timepiece collector’ is with its recent collaborations, first with Omega and now with Blancpain. It is undeniable the kind of disruption it has introduced into the world of horology in the last year. Who would have thought a plastic, quartz watch could ever be elevated to the ranks of mechanical, complicated timepieces? Perhaps there were believers, but it took Swatch to make it a reality.

The antartic model comes with a bi-colour water indicator
The symbol at 6 o’clock is actually a bi-colour water contact indicator that detects the presence of water. Image courtesy of Swatch

It is interesting to see what the future of watch collecting would look like. When the Moonswatch was released back in 2022, it caused such long queues that some stores had to beef up their security just to maintain their sanity. People paid thousands of dollars in the early days just to get their hands on one. It is not certain that the Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms collection would cause quite the same frenzy, seeing as Swatch may have learned lessons and resolved the issues that caused the Moonswatch to become unavailable as soon as it hit the stores. (Although Daily Mail and Bloomberg are already reporting long queues that have lasted for hours in Sydney and Tokyo respectively.)

Blancpain x Swatch Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms Pacific Ocean
With this second collaboration, Swatch has moved from a fashion accessory to a highly collectible brand. Image courtesy of Swatch

However, one thing looks certain: future ‘serious’ timepiece collectors might no longer be classified as those with an impressive stash of manual watches. Pieces like the Moonswatch and the Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms collection would definitely be considered collectable, although the fact that they are mass-produced may mean that they may never command the same prices or prestige as their manual counterparts.

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