December 16, 2013
by Ariel Adams
OK, so that sounds pretty interesting. How does it perform? Not to shabbily after all. The movement operates at a frequency of 3Hz and has a 90 hour power reserve (almost four days). That isn’t bad at all, and don’t forget that it is an automatic (self-winding). Functionally it offers the time and date. Want to know an interesting fact? The Sistem51 movement only has one screw in it. Just one screw?! Yea, I know… that is like the “anti movement.”
Swatch promises that the Sistem51 delivers “precise, long lasting, maintenance-free performance.” I believe them. No word on accuracy, but something tells me that it isn’t bad. Sure the Sistem51 won’t be as pretty as more high-end movements, nor as complicated, but you really can’t beat the price. Beyond the four debut models, I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of the Sistem51 in the years to come.
The Swatch Sistem51 debut models include the Sistem Red (ref. SUTR400), Sistem Blue (ref. SUTS401), Sistem Black (ref. SUTB400), and Sistem White (ref. SUTW400). The Sistem White has a different dial that is a bit more feminine, and also a different colorful case back design. The Sistem Black comes on a leather versus silicone strap (as the rest do), and also has a slightly different case back design. The Sistem Red and Sistem Blue each have the same case back design (but in different colors).
Overall I think the Sistem51 will find many early adopters and should be worth the wait. The real question is why? It is hard to consider all of the reasons but a few are obvious. First I think that Swatch is looking for a new and popular “starter mechanical” watch that will help people get into mechanical watches early, and then stay with them. Someone could get a Swatch Sistem51, then a Tissot, then maybe a Longines, and then an Omega. And perhaps after that a Breguet or Blancpain (as each of these brands is under the Swatch Group). With young people not being into mechanical timepieces as much these days the “starter automatic watch” makes good sense to get them introduced. Swatch Group may also be looking to head off the Asians by producing an arguably very good mechanical watch that is 100% Swiss Made at this price. It would be very similar to what they did with the original Swatch.
Last, Swatch might be looking into developing new and interesting ways of producing movements and much of this technology is a result. If I were Swatch Group I’d want to ensure that only high-end stuff is made by hand, and that for such service a premium is required. If the Sistem51 concept takes off it could usher in a new era of mechanical watch wearers leading into more mechanical watch sales over the long run. It will be an interesting experiment and I know for a fact enough people already want one. So if you aren’t in Switzerland you have just a bit longer to wait for the Swatch Sistem51 watches to hit a Swatch Store near you. Price is 150 Swiss Francs. swatch.com Sistem51