Initially released in Switzerland at the end of 2013, the Sistem51 became one of the most affordable Swiss mechanical watches ever made, sold at the price of £108. The Sistem51 combines old and new tech to produce a mechanical watch that uses the movement from your wrist to wind it and it can’t help but seem like a challenge to the rise of the Smartwatch.
When Swatch popularised their brand in the 80s with the Swatch Watch, it helped bring the fight to the quartz crisis that had gripped the Swiss watch industry just over a decade before its release. It was an affordable, disposable timepiece with mass appeal and helped stabilize the Swiss watch companies against the quartz movement. This established Swatch as a company with the capability to be innovative in a saturated market.
The Sistem15 has been proposed to be that next innovation, although to a more subtle extent. It’s a watch that almost seems like an answer to the smartwatch; coming against functionality with an appeal of affordable luxury. The varied colour appeal of the watch collection is a staple Swatch design feature. It’s a timepiece that offers the status of having a 51 component mechanical watch, made by a Swiss watch company with a high level of design. It’s an affordable status symbol for those who want the romanticism of a mechanical wristwatch as opposed to the efficiency of the Smartwatch.
A luxury watch is considered a classic accessory of a man’s status. But what happens when that status symbol becomes extremely affordable and keeps the appeal of a luxury Swiss watch? This seems like a smart move by Swatch. They have taken an old strategy they utilised against the quartz watch movement of developing a production line commodity with a luxury appeal of having a mechanical movement. It plays to their brand strengths and seems like a watch that has the potential to stand against the appeal of the smart watch.
While the Sistem51 is being marketed as an affordable luxury watch with a mechanical movement, just how good is the mechanical movement? Well the watchguy has done what appears to be a thorough analysis and stated the Sistem51 contained “the worst mechanical watch movement I have seen”. He breaks down the lower standard of the Sistem51 accuracy the mechanical movement has and shows the guts of the watch to include parts made from plastic. However, for the price, this isn’t surprising. The watch still stands as an impressive step in horology to being able to mass produce mechanical movements at a low price.