Swatch did not only save the entire watch industry in the 1980s, but it also played a key role in my youth and might be to blame that I am working full-time with watches today.
I remember (and still have) my first Swatch watch (1991!) and many were to come. And I still purchase a Swatch once in a while, especially when there’s some kind of special edition (both Mickey Mouse editions were my last ones) or when there’s a country or city-specific edition that I see during a visit, consider the deal one. I also remember quite vividly that I added a Swatch Automatic watch to my humble collection of watches. I actually think it was my first automatic watch anyway.
A few years ago, when Swatch introduced their Sistem51 concept, I also bought one. Actually, everyone at the Fratello team at the time bought one via Bert. He was in Switzerland anyway during the introduction and was able to buy a few (they were hard to come by at first). Last week, Swatch invited us to their HQ in Biel to witness the introduction of a new addition to their collection: The Swatch Flymagic.
An impression of the Swatch Flymagic Event
Nivachron Balance Spring
Based on the Sistem51 movement, the Swatch Flymagic has a number of (interesting) new features. Perhaps most important is the integration of the Nivachron balance spring. As you know, in this day and age, we are surrounded by magnetic fields more than ever. Where it used to be limited to specific places such as airports, server rooms and labs, you will find magnetic fields everywhere because of all the technology we are keeping close to us all the time. The best example is perhaps your iPad with magnetic cover, or perhaps even that magnetic clip on your designer bag. First world problems, sure, but if you are wearing a mechanical watch, chances are very real that its accuracy is in danger. The Nivachron balance spring is made of a titanium-based alloy that has advantages concerning magnetism, as it reduces the impact on the movement. Swatch claims that it is actually being reduced by a factor 20, depending on the type of movement. Not only that, but the Nivachron balance spring inside the Swatch Flymagic is also better resistant against shocks and temperature changes. All ensuring better performance of the movement.
So far for the technical improvement of the movement. By the way, the calibre name or number for this watch seems to be undetermined yet. Based on the Sistem51, but with an additional 15 components, bringing the total number of movement parts to 66. No, you don’t win anything if you try to guess the new name. Anyway, the Swatch Flymagic has something else going on, besides the Nivachron balance spring. As you can see, the transparent rotor is on the front of the case. Swatch basically reversed the movement. During the presentation in Bienne, Swatch told us that the small propeller (seconds indicator) is rotating counter-clockwise. But, as I see it, if you reverse a movement, the seconds will always rotate in the opposite direction. It seems they reversed the hour and minute hands instead. Nevertheless, an interesting but rather useless feature with all due respect. It also explains the additional 15 parts necessary to make the hour and minute hand turn clockwise (for the viewer). Also interesting, the new movement has a power reserve of 90 hours.
Now, the Swatch Flymagic itself is a watch that received mixed feedback. But mainly negative when it comes to the design, in all honesty. That said, it was mainly feedback from watch journalists and watch enthusiasts on social media. It could be very well the case that lifestyle or fashion journalists have a different view on things, of course. Most comments were on the very thick (or high) bezel on the watch. As you can see, the ratio between bezel and case thickness is at least a bit off. What I do find interesting is the transparent rotor of the movement, allowing you to have a good view of the inner working of the movement.
500 Pieces Each, 3 Models
Where Swatch watches used to be a disposable product or at least meant to be, as they failed miserably at that as I have a box full of them since my childhood, this Swatch Flymagic certainly is not. Turning the watch around, you will see the stainless-steel case back attached to the case with 8 screws.
The price point of the Swatch Flymagic also gives away that this watch is meant to last longer than the plastic 34mm quartz Swatch models from the past. The Swatch Flymagic comes in three different versions, each stainless steel (of which one with PVD treatment) and limited to 500 pieces only. All watches have their unique number x/500 engraved on the center of the dial, which is, in fact, part of the rotor. The price of the Swatch Flymagic is 1500 Euro (as well as Swiss Francs), which puts this Swatch also from a different perspective. Although I have no further information regarding future Swatch Flymagic watches, my guess is that these are merely show-cases of the new movement. I can imagine that Swatch will start using anti-magnetic movements in other mechanical models as well. Perhaps not even necessarily with the reversed positioning.
To be honest I see this Swatch Flymagic as a showcase of what they are able to do with a System51 movement, with an additional 15 parts for the proper direction of the hour and minute hands. The design is something I can’t see myself wearing in all honesty. It is more of a fashion statement in my opinion than a proper watch design. Nothing wrong with that, but I think the audience for this watch is slightly different than our readers. Or ourselves. On the other hand, I can also see collectors of Swatch watches wanting to add this to their Swatch collections.
The Swatch Flymagic comes with a rubber strap as well as with two calf straps. Two models have a 45mm stainless steel case and one version is stainless steel treated with (gold) PVD. All models have a sapphire crystal.
More information via Swatch online.