Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Swatch Fanatic

I've long been a fan of Swatch watches. I remember when my friend got one (she must've been around 10 years old or so) and I thought it was the coolest thing. She got one with a clear face where you could see right through the whole watch.

I ended up getting one when I was 14 or 15. My mum got it for me at a duty free store. I loved it so much and was devastated when I lost it. I don't even know where I lost it except the last memory I had of it was putting it on as I was heading out the door to go to piano lessons. After that I searched endlessly around our front door/yard area to no avail and realised I must've lost it before that in another place.

Every time I go past a Swatch stand or store I can't help but look at them and try them on. The next time I got a Swatch was in 2004. I was browsing Myer (a department store in Australia) and there were a few that caught my eye. Even better one of them was actually on sale - reduced to AUD $60 which is a bargain. (The metal bands cost more).I never liked the plastic bands and my first Swatch had a leather band, but now being older, I had 'graduated' from leather bands too and only wanted one with a metal band.

Not only that, I have another major criteria for the design and that's that the face must be small. My wrist is impossibly small so most of the faces are too big and look ridiculous on me! I can only ever wear the Swatches with the smallest faces.

So anyway I bought this watch and I wore it on my trip to Shanghai/China/Taiwan exactly 3 years ago. Then, when I was packing to go back home I discovered that it was gone. I was devastated. I thought "Not again!" But, funnily, when I got home I found it. Not even straight away but a few weeks later. And then I lost it again, but not really lost. Just misplaced it. I know it's somewhere in my room. Very strange and unfortunate but yes I am a muddle-head sometimes :(

Every time I go past the Swatch stand on the basement floor of Grand Gateway (in Shanghai) I check out the watches there. They are such a rip off in China. The kinds that I like (small face, metal band) are over 700 RMB which is more than $100 Australian.

Whilst I was at Hong Kong airport on the way over to Taiwan I saw them at the airport and they were pretty cheap (I can't recall the exact cost but I'm sure I couldn't get them cheaper anywhere else at this stage). I didn't have any time to look at them nor try them on but I said to myself if I have any money left by the time I get there I'm going to get me a(nother) Swatch!

I like them because they are fun and whimsical and can also be classy and in the scheme of watches are not that expensive. I also love Chopard watches but could buy about 500+ Swatches for one of those!

Yesterday I was at Taipei 101 (for the third time!) and checked out the Swatch store there. I saw a new one I hadn't seen before.

I have also had some el cheapo watches that never lasted the distance but the current watch that I'm wearing is still going strong. I bought it in Hawaii on our honeymoon as I wanted something cheap but was waterproof. (I also went to look at Swatches in a store in Waikiki - geez, I think I am obsessed?!) I went to the ABC store (which is like a 7-11 and souvenir store all in one) and bought a USD$15 watch. I didn't expect much from it but almost one year later it is still going strong. I've had to change the battery once but been snorkelling with it numerous times and it still works perfectly and is water tight. As good as it is, it isn't exactly classy or nice to look at. The band is a clear plastic rubber job which has now turned yellowish and greyish. The thing I like about the face though is that it is very clear to read. The background colour is light pink and the numerals are black. Very few Swatches are easy to read like this! Hmm...

Anyway, there are so many current and not-so-current Swatches that I love but at the same there there are none that I'm 100% happy with because I am so fussy. My criteria:
1. Small face of 24 or 25mm diameter.
2. Narrowish band. Band must be narrower than the face.
3. Metal band. Prefer silver colour since I already own one that is gold coloured.
4. No or limited colourised enamel metal (makes it look a bit cheap IMHO).
5. Numbers must be visible. I don't like the ones where there are no numbers or dots or anything. How are you supposed to tell the time?
6. Plain but not too plain. Swatch-type-whimsical but not too OTT and child-like.
7. Must be 'timeless' and elegant and suit a variety of clothing styles.
8. Must not feature too much of dark colours (hands or numbers are OK), green, orange, or yellow as I don't like those colours.

I don't ask for too much, do I? ;)

But these are my 'contenders' :

1. Very plain and classic but I don't like the style of the band. It has too many 'bits' like a basketweave. I love the face colour and design though. Very easy to read.

2. This one is absolutely beautiful and looks just as good in real life. It can also double as a bracelet and features my fave colours of light pink and light blue. The stones and pearl bits are gorgeous. The thing I don't like though is the face is too 'thick' and too 'high'. It makes it feel clunky. I prefer the thin flat faces (the Swatch 'Skin' series does these but there are no thin yet small face ones!

3. This is probably the one I'm leaning towards the most at the moment as it is the most versatile. I just wish it had a tiny bit of colour on it in the form of stones/crystals.

4. This one is really nice. I really love this one. The band reminds me of nomination link bracelets. It is plain but not too plain. Pretty and cute but not OTT. The only thing I don't like about it is that it is quite hard to read the time because all the colours are too similar. If the face was black (or dark blue like the first one), or the numbers were black it would be perfect!

5. This is an older design from last year. I loved it when I first saw it but now I'm not so sure. The bracelet is actually made of elastic (clear, thin elastic that is used in beading jewellery) and I'm worried about the longevity of it since I'd like to think of Swatches as collector's items. However, I saw it on a girl working at Kinokuniya in Breeze Mall and it looked great on her. The crystals are AB crystals and have a rainbow sheen to them.

6. I love the face and the crystals but I don't like the abstract and unsymmetrical shape of the strap. ARGH. I think I should just buy two watches so I can get the face that I want, and the strap that I want ;)

Gorgeous Packaging

Special Valentine's edition

7. Last but not least the gorgeous 2008 Valentine's special edition. It is by far the nicest Valentine's Swatch yet to date. I love anything with hearts on it, and heart-shaped items and I like that it's not too colourful or OTT BUT I don't like the dangly bit, and the colour combo on the face is also hard to read.

2008 Chinese Year of the Rat edition

8. I'm not interested in this one but just put the pics here as I love the packaging and cute purse. Swatch have some really great special edition packages!

Beijing Olympics edition

8. And finally, the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games edition. Cute for a kid, I think.

PS - Swatch have also invented these very cool 'Puzzle Motion' watches. Check it out!

PPS - If you are in Taipei and are a Swatch collector you should go to Shilin Market and check out the Swatch shop there. There are loads of second hand Swatches for sale. It is on the corner of WenLin and JiHe Roads. It is across the street as you exit JianTan station, a bit to your right. The shop also has Coke collector's items.

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