In honor of the passing of Nicolas Hayek, CEO of the Swatch Group, we decided to wax a little nostalgic about his most breathtaking – and lucrative – product: the Swatch watch.
Swatch was the brainchild of Elmar Mock and Jacques Müller who were attempting to make the thinnest wristwatch in the world. Instead, they created a simple plastic quartz watch with a movement that contained only about sixty pieces instead of the 100 plus found in Japanese quartz movements at the time. Hayek saw this as an excellent opportunity to create a “throwaway” watch that could be worn for a season and then swapped with another model. Artist and designers bedecked the watches in odd patterns and the company brought the nascent Swatch Group, formed by Hayek in the early 1980s, to the forefront of Swiss watch manufacturing.
At $20 or so, these watches were amazingly cheap and many collectors bought two at a time, one to wear and one to keep hidden away. The watches married high tech with high design and, given their fashion-forward nature, are the precursors to many of the design decisions made today by CE manufacturers. The iPod as an object of desire couldn’t have existed without the Swatch paving the way for inexpensive but highly designed objects to woo the consumer into regular purchases.
Hamilton has a very specific price range. This comes from being part of the crowded Swatch Group. Hamilton watches must fit in a price category just bellow Longines, but above Tissot. This has had the positive effect of the brand being positioned very strongly at the entry price level for luxury timepieces. Last year the company released the Slim, which demonstrates the reason why Hamilton is such a strong player in the “democratic luxury” sector today. It is well designed, contemporary, runs on the highly reputable 2892 calibre manufactured by ETA in Switzerland, and is tagged with a starting retail price under $1,000.
Hamilton added two variations to the Slim collection this year and I got to play and film one at Hamilton headquarters in Biel/Bienne. The models in the Slim collection are perfect examples of how pictures never do watches justice. Images make the Slim watches seem plain and flat when in reality the 43mm width coupled with the low profile and classic design make for a striking piece that is very enjoyable to wear. Continue Reading
ABlogtoRead posted a little bit on the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Spacemaster, a mouthful of a watch with some of the most striking styling I’ve seen in a while.
I got to see this piece back at JCK and was extremely impressed. Ball is famous for their gas tube lume and they cover their watches with the stuff. The expected life of the lume is about 25 years, at which point you can have a watchmaker replace it. Continue Reading
ABlogToRead has another in-depth review of one of our favorite watches, the Bremont U2. The watch is styled after the instrumentation of the U-2 spy plane and includes a specially protected movement inside a special material that allows the watch to survive – get this – a freaking cockpit ejection at full Gs. There is even another little treat for those in the know:
How much would you pay for an Android phone? $99? $199? Maybe $299 with contract?
How about $50,000. As you recall, the Ulysse Nardin Chairman is a freaking $50,000 phone. It’s only in beta right now, but it will run Android 2.1 and come in multiple styles including a model covered with diamonds. The box, as you’ll see in the video, is nutso too. It’s basically a dock with speakers and a USB port.
The phone is made for the ultrarich. As the charming young lady who showed it to us explained, it’s for folks who can’t bring their Ferraris into the club and need something equally ostentatious.