January 7, 2022
Although the past several years have seen a flurry of technical advancements in materials and movement-making for the brand, much of Swatch’s current design strategy is firmly rooted in reviving its vibrant and eclectic ‘80s heyday. This convergence of new techniques with playful retro styling has proven to be a winning combination for the mass-market Swiss giant, and for its latest release, the brand looks back to one of its most beloved looks from 1985. Although the transparent cases and colorful handsets handsomely evoke the Swatch designs of years gone by, the new Swatch CLEAR Collection, including the Swatch Clearly Big Bold, the Swatch Clearly Gent, the Swatch Clearly New Gent, and the Swatch Clearly Skin, delivers an impressively modern suite of features including bio-sourced plastic cases and NFC chip integration.
All four models in the Swatch CLEAR Collection begin with transparent cases, made from a new formulation of the brand’s castor bean-derived bio-plastic. The Clearly Big Bold takes the most distinctive approach of the group with its imposing 47mm case, rendering the Big Bold line’s signature sloping case, narrow smooth bezel, and 2 o’clock crown in a frosted matte transparent finish that gives this larger design an appropriate sense of visual weight and solidity in images. The other three models in the series all offer variations on the classic Swatch case formula, with the brand’s signature simplified case geometry and four-pronged hooded lugs. The Swatch Clearly Gent is the most faithful to the original 1985 clear Swatch design in that regard, keeping the traditional diminutive 34mm diameter and finishing the watch with a crystalline polished look. The Clearly New Gent follows the same general pattern but upsizes the case to a more modern 41mm, while the 34mm Clearly Skin compresses the design laterally to create a slimmer profile on the wrist. (Swatch does not specify just how thin this case profile is, however.) All four models in the collection share a disappointing 30 meters of water resistance, which should keep them firmly limited to non-sporting wear.
The skeleton dials of the Swatch CLEAR Collection lean firmly into the classic colorful ‘80s Swatch aesthetic, with an execution that balances minimalism with playful spectacle in images. All four models take the same basic approach, with a metallic silver outer chapter ring paired to a minimalist stick handset in vibrant red, yellow, and blue. Although the exposed inner workings of quartz movements may not be to every enthusiast’s taste, the skeleton layout does allow all four models in the line to give these simple designs a sense of technical complexity and detail in images. The Swatch Clearly Skin offers the most unique look of the group, with its unique extra-thin gear train arrangement, stylized gear-shaped central seconds hand, and the added touch of a printed gold Swatch emblem on the underside of the crystal. However, this more dynamic presentation is undercut somewhat by the Clearly Skin’s markedly undersized handset compared to its stablemates.
Swatch powers all four models in the CLEAR Collection with Swiss quartz movements, although the brand keeps the details of these movements close to the vest. For the Clearly Big Bold, the marque also adds an NFC chip inside the case, allowing the watch to be used for contactless payments in a similar manner to modern credit cards. The brand extends the transparent look of these designs into their strap pairings, as each model receives a clear silicone strap with the Swatch Clearly Big Bold adding a case-matching frosted matte treatment.
With designs that draw on Swatch’s ‘80s stylistic roots while showcasing cutting-edge materials and technologies, the new Swatch CLEAR Collection is a striking and playful blend that highlights some of the best of the brand’s past and present. All four models in the Swatch CLEAR Collection are available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for the Swatch Clearly Big Bold stands at $110 at the time of publication, while the Swatch Clearly Gent, Swatch Clearly New Gent, and Swatch Clearly Skin are currently priced at $75, $85, and $120, respectively. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.