Swatch is well-loved for their fun, colorful watches. However, their price is not as low as your basic Casio. Many wonders where Swatch is on the watch ranking. Is Swatch a luxury watch brand? Or just a fashion brand?
Swatch is not a luxury brand but more of an entry-level brand. Although Swatch is Swiss-made, it does not hand-assemble nor uses premium materials such as gold or diamonds for its watches. Swatch also is placed as one of the entry-level watch brands in the Swatch group’s portfolio.
In this article, let’s look at Swatch before discussing what makes a luxury watch brand and compare Swatch against that criteria.
Lastly, we will also discuss if Swatch is an entry-level luxury brand and if they are worth your money.
What Is Swatch Known For?
Swatch is known for its fun, colorful timepieces. It has a young, exciting, and lively brand image, with a large following worldwide.
Rather than giving the image of being a serious, prestigious watchmaking house, Swatch instead cultivated the impression of being a fashion-forward watchmaker.
Their recent launch of the MoonSwatch series was a testament to the popularity and almost cultish following, with queues lining up worldwide to purchase their watches.
In fact, the excitement and spectacle generated could really give older iPhone launches a fight.
What Are the Characteristics of Luxury Watch Brand?
Before determining if Swatch is a luxury brand, perhaps it is a good idea to see the characteristics of a luxury watch brand.
First of all, it is essential to know that the word ‘luxury’ can be subjective. If you have never spent $500 on a watch before, a $500 Citizen will feel like a luxury purchase.
However, suppose you are used to buying $500- $1,000 watches. You might only get that sense of ‘luxury’ when you drop $5,000 for an Omega.
However, in general, you can observe that luxury watchmakers separate themselves from affordable, regular watchmakers in these areas:
- In-House Movements and Technology
- Brand Image
Materials: Luxury watchmakers often use better materials for their watch parts. Instead of just 316 stainless steel, you might see expensive metals such as bronze, titanium, or 18K gold.
Assembly: Luxury watchmakers often hand-assemble their watches in-house instead of outsourcing them to outside contractors. This allows them to ensure all their watches adhere to high-quality standards.
In-House Movements & Technology: Luxury watchmakers often develop their own movements to ensure better performance and accuracy. There is also a tendency to develop proprietary technology to further enhance their watches. Regular and affordable watchmakers often adopt movements from other companies to save costs.
Design: Luxury watchmakers often have designs that are iconic and well known. These designs at times also define and become a benchmark for future watches designs within the same category. For example, the Rolex Daytona has become a standard for all chronograph watch designers and builders to strive for.
Homages: It is normal to see homages made for models from luxury watchmakers. Homages exist to cater to customers who desire the original but cannot afford the price tag. Since homages are made to look like the original, but not to the point of being an exact copy, it is a good option for these folks.
Fakes: Luxury watches often suffer from fakes in the market. These clone/fake/imitation watches are often sold as ‘replicas,’ which are illegal. Luxury watches tend to get cloned as these watches are costly and unaffordable for many. Regular watch models rarely get cloned, as the profit margin is so small that it isn’t worth the fake watchmakers’ time.
Brand Image: Luxury watch brands often carry an image of prestige, class, exclusivity, and of course, luxury. They cultivate this image by associating and sponsoring people, events, or media with similar project images.
As a result, you can see Rolex sponsoring many tennis tournaments, IWC watches on the wrists of F1 drivers, and Patek Philippe placing ads in the Wall Street Journal.
Prices: Luxury watchmakers often price their watches on the expensive side. The idea is to project their watches as ‘aspirational’ pieces, expensive and only attainable by people who have achieved success in life. This also keeps the brand exclusive.
A higher profit margin also allows watchmakers to conduct premium marketing exercises – further building their brand image.
Is Swatch A Luxury Brand?
Swatch is not a luxury brand but rather an entry-level brand. Swatch itself describes itself as makers of ‘affordable, fashionable timepieces.’ Swatch also does not claim to hand-assemble their watches, nor do they use expensive materials. Swatch’s watches also do not cost more than $1,000.
|Characteristics||Luxury Watch Brands||Swatch||Pass?|
|Materials||May use 904L steel, titanium, precious metals, gemstones||Resin, plastic and stainless steel||❌|
|Assembly||Mostly hand assembled||No such claims, but watches are Swiss Made.||❌|
|Movement||Almost all have in-house movement||In-house movements||✅|
|Proprietary Technology||Almost all have proprietary technology||Introduced the Sistem51 automatic movement||✅|
|Design||Often iconic, and sets trends.||Has a well-recognized design language/style||✅|
|Homages||Have homages made after their models||None. Creates homages instead||❌|
|Fakes & Imitation||Suffers from fakes and imitation||Suffering from fakes and imitations.||✅|
|Brand Image||Prestige, exclusivity, class||Carries a ‘affordable, fashionable’ image||❌|
|Prices||At least four-figure.||Has watches as low as $55||❌|
Most Swatch models are made of resin, plastic, or stainless steel on their website.
None uses premium or more expensive materials such as bronze, titanium, or 18K gold. The gold-colored models are stainless steel with gold-colored PVD plating.
Swatch does not claim to hand-assemble their watches, nor do they claim to assemble all their watches in-house. Swatch also has production facilities outside of Switzerland.
However, Swatch does claim their watches to be ‘Swiss Made,’ which means that their watches:
- Have 60% of the production in Switzerland.
- Uses a Swiss movement
- Encased and inspected in Switzerland.
We can take this as Swatch’s commitment to ensure good, quality watches.
In-House Movements and Technology
Swatch offers watches in both quartz and automatic movements.
Their quartz movements are often adopted from ETA’s quartz movement. ETA is a Swiss watch movement maker.
This is hardly surprising as ETA is part of the Swatch Group, the parent company that Swatch is also part of. The group also has companies such as Omega, Tissot, Hamilton, and Breguet.
On the automatic movements, Swatch released the Sistem51 in 2013, the world’s first automatic movement that does not require human assembly. The movement is produced with complete robotic assembly, with human supervision only.
This movement, however, will be unserviceable as it is designed to be permanently sealed inside a case for perfect protection against pollutants.
Swatch does have a very iconic design approach to their watches, that when looked at from far, it would be possible to guess that a watch is probably a Swatch.
Swatch has defined itself well in watch designs by combining plastic cases and soft silicone straps with a clean and straightforward form.
However, Swatch lacks a model that really defines it, a signature model. This is unlike luxury watchmakers that often have signature models, such as Omega and the Seamasters or Breitling and their Navitimers. Perhaps this is its downside as a fashion watchmaker.
Swatch does not seem to have homages made after it, but rather it makes homages of other watches.
For example, the recently released MoonSwatch is basically a collaboration between Swatch and Omega to release a more ‘affordable’ Speedmaster Moonwatch. So it could be said that the MoonSwatch is an homage to the original Omega Speedmaster.
Swatch is not an expensive watch, but surprisingly it suffers from fakes and clone watches.
Often fakes are created over expensive luxury timepieces. They can be sold at a higher price and still be much cheaper than the original. However, this logic does not work on Swatch watches, as they almost never cross $1,000.
In fact, on their website, their most expensive model is only $270.
Perhaps clone watchmakers still produce fake Swatch watches since they are easier to copy and clone. The movements are quartz in general, with lower-cost materials. Since the cost is lower, they can also sell at a lower price for profit margin.
Swatch never intended from day one to play into the image of serious, historical watchmaking houses that produce exquisite timepieces.
Instead, Swatch worked on being a young, vibrant, fashion-forward brand that focuses more on producing trendy watches that are affordable. The image and marketing approach could be similar to fashion watch companies such as Fossil.
READ MORE: Fossil Watch Review
|Watch Brand||Used Price Range|
|Patek Philippe||$8,800 – $478,087|
|Rolex||$1,783 – $211,500|
|Omega||$156 – $50,660|
|Swatch||$55 – $270|
Swatch’s models are plentiful when looking into their online store, but none of them cross into the four-figure range.
In fact, their most expensive model is the Sistem51 Brushed, at $270. This model runs Swatch’s Sistem51 movement, the world’s first fully robotic assembled automatic movement. Their most affordable model for men is the Once Again, at $55.
Compared to the prices of common luxury brands such as Omega, Rolex, or Patek Philippe, Swatch is nowhere near being a luxury watch brand.
Is Swatch An Entry Level Luxury Brand?
Swatch is not an entry-level luxury brand. Entry-level luxury brands should have watches that at least use premium materials, and have a price tag of at least four-figure. Swatch uses plastic, resin, and steel in their watches, and their most expensive model is less than $500.
Compare Swatch’s offerings against its sister company a level above it, Tissot. Tissot mainly sells watches that are under $1,000. Still, they also have ‘aspirational’ pieces that signify the intention to move into the luxury space.
These models are 18K gold and have diamond finishings on their dial, bezel, and lugs. They are also priced over $3,000, considered an entry-level luxury. The price is steep, but still not to the level of Rolex or Omega.
Is A Swatch Watch Worth It?
Swatch watches are worth it. They are Swiss Made models, which is a good indicator of quality. Their watches are also trendy, fashionable, and instantly recognizable. It also has a large community of collectors, which means there is some worth investing in Swatch watches.
Swatch watches are worth it in many ways, one of which is a Swiss Made watch. A Swiss Made watch must have at least 60% of its production done in Switzerland, uses a Swiss movement, and be inspected in Switzerland. This is an indication of quality that you can rely on.
Swatch watches are also affordable, fashionable timepieces that are easy to collect and match your outfit. If you are a fashion-forward person and care about looks, Swatch watch is an excellent option.
Aside from Swatch, we also reviewed many great, affordable watches from all over the world. Feel free to check it out if you are keen to.
ALSO READ: 43 Best Affordable Watches