Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Seiko 5 vs Almost Anything by Swatch

It's Enten – Eller Time again at The Wrong Monkey!

To people who are really into watches in a big way, the Seiko 5 is legendary. If you talk to, say, 100 experts on watches, and ask them which brand gives the most value for the money, and which model is the very best bargain at all, you won't necessarily get two sets of 100 identical answers -- but there is no doubt, no doubt whatsoever, that the brand which will get mentioned most often is Seiko, and that the model which will get mentioned most often is the Seiko 5.

The question is, to how many people who are not into watches in a big way will this matter? I'm just going to assert that people who are into Swatches --

-- in a big way, are rarely into watches in general in a big way.

Those of us fascinated by watches in general are mostly men. Think of it this way: women have shoes, we have watches. There are some men who have huge collections of shoes, and some women who have huge collections of watches, but not many. Most of the watches sold by far are men's watches, just as most of the shoes sold by far are women's shoes.

I'm not sure that most Swatch owners are men.

Those of us fascinated by watches in general tend to be very much interested in the functionality of the watch. Mechanical watches -- watches which are powered by springs, springs which are wound either manually or, in the case of what is known as an automatic watch, are wound by the motion of the wrist of the person wearing the watch. Most mechnical watches sold these days are automatic -- almost always interest us more than battery-powered watches. We're interested in accuracy, precision (those are two different things. You probably already knew that or probably don't care), reliability, unusual features which made not be at all visible unless the watch is taken apart -- function, function, function. You want to get a watch enthusiast's heart racing? Show him a watch which you wind up and it runs for 5 or 10 (or 30, or 50) days before it needs to be wound again, that keeps time within 1 or 2 seconds per 24 hours, that will probably run for 100 years without being serviced, but don't speak of the watch going without a routine servicing every few years unless you want to cause the watch enthusiast pain.

Almost all Swatches are battery-powered, and don't open up for servicing, so you just throw them away when they stop running. Both the batteries and the throwaway aspect make them much less interesting for us watch nuts. A few years ago, Swatch finally introduced its first spring-powered watch, the Sistem 51, and we watch nuts leaned forward in great interest -- until we learned that the Sistem 51 didn't open up, cannot be repaired, and then most of us leaned at least partway back again. Then a couple of years later Swatch introduced the Sistem 51 Irony, which opens up. At last, there is a watch from Swatch that a lot of us would consider buying.

Still, though, it's just the one model, and Swatch continues to make almost all their watches battery-powered and disposable, so they're still really not about us. Which makes it rather hard to get very enthusiastic about them.

However, Swatches look absolutely amazing. Here, look at some more of them:

Nothing else on Earth looks like Swatches. Even those of us who are into mechanical watches can see that. And that, quite obviously, is what Swatches are all about to most of the people who own them.

So why am I telling you all this? Because, a little earlier, an acquaintance of mine expressed an enthusiasm for Swatch. I was about to tell her that, for about as much money as a Swatch, she could get a Seiko 5, and that if she wore a Seiko 5, any watch geek who saw it on her arm would immediately find her interesting.

And then I thought -- does she have any desire, at all, to be interesting to watch geeks?

And I simply couldn't convince myself that she did. Indeed, it was pretty easy to imagine her being creeped out by the idea of drawing a lot of attention from watch geeks.

If I became extremely knowledgeable about shoes, would that make me more interesting to women? Oh well, it's a rhetorical question, because I'm not going to become extremely knowledgeable about shoes. If a woman were extremely knowledgeable about watches, would that make her more attractive to me? I'm really not sure that it would. In fact -- based on the few women I've known who are real watch aficionados, I'd have to say: it makes them neither more or less attractive. To me. Perhaps it makes them irresistible to some others.

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