Swatch This Space: Phillips Perpetual to Bow 200+ Vintage Designs



I wish I could remember why a Swatch watch was on my Christmas list circa 1986 when I was in 5th or 6th grade. A Benetton rugby-clad  “influencer” must have put the product on my radar during recess.

I can’t recall my Swatch’s exact design, but I know it was a color-blocked affair of red, yellow, and royal blue. It also had one of those rubber guard thingies that slip over the case. In class, I’d pluck it at it gently like a guitar string, and it frequently needed replacing.

Remember how Swatches came packaged in those long, skinny frosted plastic boxes that snapped together just so? The shape was always a dead giveaway—even wrapped in Christmas paper, as mine was that year.

Down the road, I received another Swatch at some point, white with little tiny geometric splashes on its face, and in 7th grade I was lucky enough to find a gray one languishing on a Block Island beach.

Where are these Swatches now? I wish I knew.

What I do know is that more than 200 unworn vintage Swatches are up for sale Oct. 25-28 at Phillips Perpetual in London. Located on the third floor of Phillips’ London offices, Perpetual debuted earlier this fall and offers clients a boutique format dedicated to selling watches all year long.

Originally released between 1985 and 2000, all of the watches in “Swatch, the All It Takes Is the Will to Do It Exhibition” are unworn and come in their original boxes. Prices range from about $90 to $2,180.

“In terms of design, I think this exhibition covers the most exciting and disruptive period, however, I think the Swatch heyday is very much personal to the individual, as vintage Swatch is quintessentially a nostalgic purchase,” says James Marks, Phillips’ international specialist and director of watches.

Does this mean the vintage Swatch category is going to be a hot ticket in 2020? A 1990s revival seems to be on the horizon, so say our antennae anyway….

“I think lower value items with a strong personal bond will see an explosion in price,” confirms Marks. “Swatch perhaps embodies this for those in their 30s.”

And, ahem, those in their 40s!

Here’s a peek at some of the exhibition highlights. The best selection will be available in person, but five designs will be uploaded to the Perpetual site with an “enquire now” button on Oct. 25.

So you know, Swatch this space.

Vintage Grand Prix Swatch
 Swatch Grand Prix, 1992
Vintage Deauville Swatch
Swatch Deauville, 1987
Swatch Putti Putti watch
Swatch Putti Putti, designed by Vivienne Westwood, 1992
Vintage Swatch Rosso Sur Blackout
Swatch Rosso Sur Blackout, 1991
Vintage Swatch One Hundred Million The People
Swatch One Hundred Million The People, 1992
Vintage Sweet Baby swatch
Swatch Sweet Baby, 1996

 

Top: “Swatch, the All It Takes Is the Will to Do It Exhibition” opens to the public on Oct. 25–28, coinciding with the touring exhibition of watches slated for the Geneva, Hong Kong, and New York auctions this fall.

 

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All That Glitters writer