Swatch Sistem51 $150 Mechanical Watch To Make Its Debut In The US Soon

Swatch Sistem51 $150 Mechanical Watch To Make Its Debut In The US Soon

Swatch-Sistem51-Blue-Dial-1

The Swatch Sistem51 was announced at Baselworld 2013, and as a true revolutionary concept should, it moved just about any and all watch enthusiasts on this planet. It amazed with its futuristic, fully mechanical movement that contains only 51 parts and is fully assembled by robots from start to finish. By contrast, it upset us with its extremely limited availability mainly restricted to Switzerland. With early July, that is bound to change, however, as the Swatch Sistem51 hits the US market, first in two pop-up stores in New York and San Francisco.

Swatch-Sistem51-Red-Dial-Case-Back

We see just about all truly innovative watches debut cursed with two key issues: their often stupendous price premium and an overly limited availability. With the Swatch Sistem51 and its more than competitive 150 Swiss franc price point, the former has always been out of the equation, while the problem linked to its availability has remained. It has been more than a year now that Swatch announced the watch at Baselworld 2013, and yet it took over six months for the first pieces to make it to the stores in Switzerland, in December.

The primary cause of all this delay has likely been the combination of the Sistem51's bold new construction and the unprecedented, 100% automated manufacturing process behind it. These challenges made it difficult for Swatch to increase its production output, forcing them to restrict the new model's availability to Switzerland and a few other select locations around Europe.

SISTEM BLUE

Well, the wait is over as Swatch finally brings the Sistem51 to the United States: on July 1st it will first be available in the US at the brand's flagship store in Times Square, located at 1528 Broadway. A week later the West Coast – well, San Francisco, to be exact – will receive its first shipment of the Swatch Sistem51, hitting Swatch's pop-up store at 101 Grant Street. Swatch plans to celebrate the occasion with installations dedicated to some of the key features of the watch, namely the unique "single central screw" around which the entire movement is built, as well as the peculiar striping that is present on some Swatch Sistem51 case back designs.

Swatch-Sistem51-Black-White-Dial

Other than the two July dates for New York and San Francisco – again, the 1st and 8th of July, respectively – Swatch communicates no exact schedule for when and how it is making the Sistem51 more widely available in the United States. What we managed to learn, however, is that they expect a nationwide roll-out as well as e-commerce availability to happen by the end of summer of 2014. The price for the Swatch Sistem51 in the US will be $150. swatch.com

  • gadgety

    How accurate is this mechanical watch? When the leap was made to quartz it offered unprecedented accuracy for a small fraction of the cost. Mechanical movements were inaccurate and required servicing. Obviously this 51 item mechanical movement is hermetically sealed, so service of little relevance. What is relevant, at least in the day to day usage is how accurate this mechanical movement is, but I can find no information published.

  • TheBalanceWhl

    Who got on the waiting list in the Times Square store? This guy! :)

  • fritsveer

    I was be able to buy one in Tokyo, at the swatch store on Ginza, last week (on a holiday trip). I feel like a lucky guy :)

  • kevingrr

    gadgety While quartz watches are more accurate it is misnomer to label mechanical watches as inaccurate.  Most good mechanical watches are accurate to within seconds each day.   This means every few months you may need to nudge the minute hand back of forward.
    Seiko produces many low cost mechanical movements that can be fairly accurate.  They are inexpensive enough they would probably not be worth servicing.

    As you said, servicing for this watch is a non issue.

  • ocabj

    Ugh. NYC and SF only. What a tease. Hopefully it’s not too long before they’re available in SoCal.

  • bbutler

    I applaud Swatch for producing a low-price mechanical watch. I really like the idea; however, I just wish they would make it with a more appealing, classic design.

  • Jimxxx

    +/-7sec per day

  • spiceballs

    As it happens I will be in NYC on or around 01 July so I’ll make a point of seeing these.  Certainly interesting but I wonder how long they’ll last, given that many of the 51 moving parts are “plastic”  – – – ?

  • kevingrr

    Jimxxx If they are anything like the low end Seikos I think we will see a lot of variation from watch to watch.

  • spiceballs

    fritsveer  – so how is the real world accuracy, comfort, useability etc of your Swatch sistem51?

  • http://IndividualDesign.com/ MarkCarson

    As ETA further restricts delivery of mechanical movements to third party watch brands, a funny thought is to buy and gut Sistem 51 watches (throwing away the plastic case and star chart dial) and put the movement in a decent SS case with a classier looking dial and hands. Not saying I would do it, but it does make you think…

  • somethingnottaken

    bbutler Classic designs wouldn’t fit the Swatch brand, so will probably show up under the Tissot brand.

  • Overload in CO

    FYI, Swatch’s San Francisco store is at 101 Geary St.

  • GBD

    I heartily applaud Swatch for the making possible the manufacturing advancements needed to make such a watch, but a disposable mechanical watch just seems all kinds of wrong to me.

  • fritsveer

    spiceballs fritsveer
    Be aware: my first automatic watch and first swatch, but the start of my automatic collection :)
    Accuracy (against radio controlled citizen) : from what i see now;  Minus 5-7 sec per day. (wearing an on back during night). No proper test done yet, i leave that to the pro’s
    Comfort: nice light weight, comfortable to wear
    Crown: little difficult to pull out. 
    Setting time 1: i had a little trouble setting the time exactly (big hand on the dot when second on 60/12, i dont like it when the second is on the top and the minute is between the dots). 
    Setting time 2: seconds will not stop when crown pulled out to second stop. so setting seconds is challenging..
    Winding: by hand (counterclockwise) easy and somewhat noisy, Automatic: spinning is audible (nice spinning sound) en winds easy. 
    The watch has a plastic feel around it, very swatch, hence it is my first swatch ever. Still i like it very much because of the automatic movement, philosophy behind it etc.

  • David Bredan

    Overload in CO Thanks for that heads-up. For the launch of the Sistem51 however, Swatch communicates it will create “pop-up stores”, which I presume will be temporary locations selling the watch. The pop-up store can be found at 101 Grant St, on the corner of Geary Avenue, starting from the 8th of July.
    ocabj Since Swatch chose not to disclose any details in the press release we reached out to them to ask when they expect the S51 to be more widely available in the US. We learned that their plans are to have the watch available for sale “nationwide” by the end of the summer, also including the option to purchase them online. Hope this helps!

  • spiceballs

    fritsveer spiceballs  thank you for that, very interesting

  • http://wristwatchings.wordpress.com/ ZL

    Want. Should’ve made it $151.

  • http://IndividualDesign.com/ MarkCarson

    ZL Or even better, $56.71 USD (which is 51 CHF)

  • http://wristwatchings.wordpress.com/ ZL

    MarkCarson ZL or free, that woul’ve been cool too

  • https://twitter.com/Canadian_Straps SuperStrapper

    I’m on a call-alert list at my local Swatch boutique so I can get one as soon as they come in. Still have not seen one that I particularly enjoy style-wise, but I do believe they are important to the industry and believe them to be mildly collectible, as a curio. The cost is a throwaway, so it’s a no brainer.

  • Ulysses31

    Swatch has come up with some really handsome new quartz chronos lately, for a similar price to this, made from steel and leather.  I’d rather have one of those.  While I appreciate that this is novel, this is the mechanical equivalent of a ten dollar quartz watch.  Stripped down to the bone; cheap resin and plastic, mass produced, no soul, no life, no identity.  Ugly, to boot.  I know we’re all into mechanical watches here but at what point and after how much compromise is the very thing we love about mechanicals completely lost?  It’s not the cheapest, the best built, the best looking, or the most accurate mechanical you can buy for the price, so I guess the appeal boils down to how it was made and the design-philosophy behind it.  That’s just not enough for me.  All that said, I realise for some people it’s pocket change and the novelty factor makes it an easy purchase to justify.  I reckon a lot of people would wear it a couple of times then leave it gathering dust in a drawer.

  • http://IndividualDesign.com/ MarkCarson

    Ulysses31 So you’re thinking that the robots don’t do anglage or other hand (robotic hand) work on these movements? Maybe once they decide to no longer tart up the looks of the movement with those silly colored sunburst lines, it might look like something other than a toy watch’s movement.
    So you think the tag line might be: “Built by robots, forgotten in a drawer by humans”, ha ha.

  • Lkcons

    Ulysses31 Agree, I don’t understand the concept at all. A Swatch is a Swatch is a ….err, Swatch?

  • fritsveer

    Lkcons Ulysses31 Are these robots made in Switzerland? If not (robots made in japan for example), can they still state “Swiss made”??
    😉

  • Lkcons

    fritsveer Lkcons Ulysses31 Ja, they teached them to yodel, break for lunch and eat swiss choclate…..

  • OmniRak

    I find the sistem 51 very interesting.  While currently its aesthetic appeal is not a home run for me, I do view this as another important step forward in the mass market watch range for the Swiss. This is only the beginning for the sistem 51 and more diverse designs will made be available as time moves on.  I’m definitely picking up one (I too signed up when they were announced so that Swatch would call me when they become available here in NYC).  I look forward to it.

  • https://twitter.com/Canadian_Straps SuperStrapper

    Ulysses31 There’s a good chance I might not even wear it once. Depends on the packaging I guess. 

    To be honest, I go into the swatch boutique and I can;t find a single watch to personally get behind, style-wise. I do have a Swatch automatic chronograph that they released a few years ago, it looks pretty good and performs flawlessly (even though I very rarely wear it), and the boutique don;t even carry them anymore. 

    The newer digital thing they released with the zany fonts is the prevalent thing the boutiques have on display these days, do not want.

  • http://manyfaceted.com/ manyfaceted

    fritsveer I hope this isn’t a dumb question, but I can’t find this info on Swatch’s website: how large is the watch?

  • fritsveer

    manyfaceted fritsveer 42 mm (also according to http://gearpatrol.com/2014/03/04/review-swatch-sistem51/)

  • http://manyfaceted.com/ manyfaceted

    fritsveer manyfaceted 
    Thanks! And… bummer. That’s a little too big for me to pull off, I think. Maybe they’ll make a ladies SIstem51 at some point.

  • vsbobclear

    I don’t own high end watch and I just randomly saw this website, but just looking at this, I don’t think this is such a great watch. It seems like they treat the mechanical components as a marketing gimmick rather than as a high-quality part of the watch. An expensive mechanical watch is better than an expensive quartz watch, but a cheap quartz watch is better than a cheap mechanical watch.

  • AwsmSpaceMonkey

    I was visiting France last week and grabbed one up for about $200. I really just like the idea of the watch. It definitely feels cheap both in terms of the materials and how it works when setting it. The rotor is funny too. Every so often I’ll move my arm and you can hear the rotor whizzing around. Like I said, I wanted this watch for the technical achievement and for $200 I feel it is totally worth it. For the record, I also picked up a Christopher Ward C9 Jumping Hour while in London. So it was a pretty good vacation overall.

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  • Galvan

    I had the opportunity to see these watches and try one, and quite frankly the designs are great for the teenager ages, but the plastic material used is so cheap that when trying one out, the bucle got disasembled from the strap.
    The movement is ok, not a 28000 bph, but still ok for teenagers. and for the money I think it is worth it.
    Bottom line, good watch for young people that is just starting in the swiss watch world.
    Regards.