Review: Swatch MoonSwatch
So, funny story … I’ve got two MoonSwatches. Well, I’ve got one and Charlotte’s got one. It’s been almost exactly a year since they were first announced. What are they actually like, and should you get one too?
I heard the other day that, in 2022, despite the shortages, despite mixed emotions, Swatch sold over a million MoonSwatches. That’s insane. Those are Rolex numbers. I’m not sure which is crazier. And it was made all the more intense by the very real and sometimes very literal fight to get them. This was high demand, high profitability watch collecting made accessible to anyone with a few hundred dollars. There’s a distinct “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore” tang that came hand-in-hand with the public’s reaction to the MoonSwatch.
As such, it’s been a surprisingly emotive rollercoaster ride over the last twelve months. First, we wondered what this flagrant brand cannibalisation would do to big brother Omega and it’s vastly more expensive Moonwatch. Then we wondered if the flip flopping around online availability was a sign that all was not quite as it seemed behind closed doors. Then we had a chuckle as Swatch literally sent a pack of Fiat 500s roaming around the world to sell batches of watches out of the trunk in dodgy car parks. Surreal doesn’t even begin to cover it.
So, you can imagine the anticlimactic finale, right after I had fostered the idea of never having a MoonSwatch—and what did I care, I never wanted one anyway—when I walked into the Swatch store in Geneva and, without me saying a single word, I was presented at the counter with a stack of MoonSwatches and asked which one I wanted. That’s right. Swatch is so resigned to the demand of the MoonSwatch, they don’t even give you the chance to ask for one. At this point it’s the MoonSwatch company that also sells a few other bits on the side.
The whole saga reminds me of when there was like just a few channels on television and so everyone watched the same show. The world collectively held its breath to watch Frasier’s final broadcast, see Jerry’s pilot get picked up by NBC and to find out that Dan Humphrey was indeed Gossip Girl. We all have our different points of view, our fan theories if you like, and whilst we will never agree, I can’t remember a single event in this particular bubble that has brought people together quite like this has.
So regardless of what the actual watch is like, turns out that, really, the many failings of the MoonSwatch culminate together into something of a success. The word MoonSwatch less embodies an actual watch than it does a mass social experiment, a cheeky little hand grenade tossed into an already tense industry just to see what will happen next. Well, things certainly happened, and here we are at that all important season finale where it finally comes together. So is the MoonSwatch, now I actually have one, any good? That’s a secret I’ll never tell. XOXO.
I’ll start off by arriving at the point like an amphetamine-laden mountaineer: the MoonSwatch is a bit naff. Is it possible for a watch to be so light it’s weightless? Is it possible for a plastic to be so plasticky it makes yoghurt pots feel like concrete? Is it possible for a strap to seem inspired by a store-brand diaper? The answer to all of those questions, it turns out, is an emphatic yes.
We’ll start with the strap because it’s the one thing you can actually do something about. I’d say kill it with fire, but it’s such a piece of industrial waste I’m a little concerned it contains asbestos or some other hazardous material whose smoke would be harmful to inhale.
Whilst it’s easy to take off and replace with literally anything to improve it—even Daniel Craig couldn’t make that strap not look like a medical alert bracelet—the difficulty you have is that replacing the strap on the watch highlights one of the biggest issues: the plastic. Bioceramic. Biowaste. Whatever.
It scratches and dents so easily that you need the patience and dexterity of a rocket surgeon to make it through a strap swap unscathed. It feels like each watch has five, maybe ten, good straps swaps in it before it’s more scratch than watch.
Of course, daily routine is going to introduce more damage to the case and crystal—also plastic—so not going full Lady Gaga and holding back on the costume changes isn’t going to protect you. This is not a watch you’re going to hand down to the next generation. You’ll be lucky to hand it back to Swatch for a battery change.
It all looks fine from a bit of a distance, but when you get up close, stuff like the hands and dial just don’t materialise in the way we’re all used to. It’s like in a videogame when you walk up to a poster to try and read it, only to discover it’s a mess of blurry scrawl. Takes you out of the immersion of it being an actual Moonwatch.
So, what’s it like to wear? Physically, same as not wearing it. It’s so ridiculously light it just doesn’t register. You do know you’re wearing it though, because wearing a bright red MoonSwatch at my age and coolness yields the same reaction as wearing bright trainers with air bubbles or a t-shirt with some kind of slogan: self-consciousness. For the price, I could be wearing a much better quality and far more discreet Seiko, thank you very much.
But I bought one, didn’t I. Well, two, actually. I bought them because it was a fun experience that I shared with my wife while we were in Geneva together. The rush of realising they actually had some available followed by the panic of choosing which one to have. We’d spent a year discussing which we’d pick if we had the chance and there we were, guns to our heads, clock ticking, on the precipice of committing.
We’ve also chosen straps together, browsed styles, materials, colours. Charlotte’s has arrived and mine’s still on the way. She’s gone for an orangey-yellow Bark & Jack NATO on her Jupiter and I’ve gone for a bright red rubber digital camo from Perpetual Straps. Like, we’re having fun together. She has a passing interest in watches because, well, because she’s polite—but the MoonSwatch has been an experience that she’s fully invested in.
And so I realise, the MoonSwatch isn’t supposed to be a watch we measure by the standards we are all used to. It’s an Early Learning Watch, a my first watch, a little taster of what’s possible in the hobby without committing big. It’s bright, it’s colourful, it’s engaging—and most importantly, it’s not to be taken seriously. We can all learn from that.
Have you been able to get a MoonSwatch? What do you think of it now you have it? And if you don’t have one, what are your thoughts?