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Will the Swatch x Blancpain collaboration be a repeat of MoonSwatch mania?

SINGAPORE – In 2022, Swatch explored the planets in a collaboration with Omega.

The MoonSwatch – a colourful take on Omega’s iconic Speedmaster Moonwatch – was a dizzyingly effective marketing stunt which not only broke the Internet, but also caused global stampedes among punters clamouring for the 11 models in the collection.

Swatch is at it again, this time plumbing the depths of the deep blue with Blancpain, which – along with other luxury watch brands such as Omega, Breguet, Jaquet Droz and Glashutte Original – is part of the Swatch Group.

On Saturday, it will drop the Swatch x Blancpain Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms collection comprising five snazzy bioceramic renditions of Blancpain’s iconic Fifty Fathoms.

Widely recognised as the world’s first dive watch, the Fifty Fathoms made its debut in 1953 and is the brainchild of the late Blancpain chief executive Jean-Jacques Fiechter, who was an avid diver.

Once worn by the late French film-maker and oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, and now coveted by divers and watch lovers alike, a Fifty Fathoms timepiece today costs between $15,000 and more than $30,000.

Scuba, meanwhile, is Swatch’s line of dive watches.

The five models in the collaboration cost $565 each. They come in different hues and are named after the five oceans of the world: Arctic (orange), Pacific (yellow), Atlantic (blue), Indian (green) and Antarctic (grey).

The colours, according to Swatch, are inspired by nudibranchs – a type of colourful sea slug – found in each ocean. Each model is fitted with a matching Nato strap made from recycled fishing nets.

Rumours that Swatch would work on a collection with Blancpain have been swirling after the runaway success of MoonSwatch.

The speculation hit feverish heights last Friday with the appearance of cryptic teaser advertisements in newspapers including The Straits Times.

Blancpain confirmed the collection on social media on Monday.

Like the MoonSwatch, the Swatch x Blancpain is fashioned from Swatch’s eco-friendly Bioceramic compound.

However, unlike the MoonSwatch, which is fitted with an ETA quartz chronograph movement, it is a mechanical timepiece.

The heart of the Swatch x Blancpain is Swatch’s Sistem51 mechanical automatic movement which, among other features, has 51 components and a Nivachron anti-magnetic balance spring.

After all, Blancpain famously ran a series of advertisements proclaiming “there has never been a quartz Blancpain watch, and there never will be” after the quartz crisis which lasted from the 1970s to the 1980s.

The Sistem51 is visible through the transparent display back, which also features a striking illustration of nudibranchs.

Like its name suggests, the Swatch x Blancpain is a dive watch and is water-resistant to a depth of 91m. It pales in comparison with the 300m of many Fifty Fathoms models, but those also cost a lot more.

The Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean models take their design cues from modern Fifty Fathoms releases and have Arabic numerals at 12, three, six and nine, as well as a date window at 4.30.

The Arctic and Antarctic Ocean models are inspired by older Blancpain timepieces, with a retro logo of the brand.

Whether the collaboration will spark the same mania as MoonSwatch remains to be seen.

However, ST understands that Swatch is taking measures to make sure queues are orderly when the doors to their boutiques at Ion Orchard and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands open at 10am on Saturday.

No overnight queueing is allowed, and each person can buy only one watch.

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Several watch lovers say they like what they see and will buy at least one.

For example, forex professional Alan Ng, 49, who bought two MoonSwatches, likes that the collaboration watch has an automatic movement. He is eyeing the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean models.

Mr Tom Chng, founder of the Singapore Watch Club, says: “Blancpain prides itself on never making a quartz watch since 1735, and I’m glad to see that tradition still holds in this project with Swatch.”

He reckons the “monumental collaboration will expose the Blancpain brand to a new audience from the MoonSwatch fanfare, and will probably remind the wider industry of the heritage and lore of the iconic Fifty Fathoms”.

The 33-year-old adds: “As a horology enthusiast, I am most excited to see if this watch will introduce the charms and qualities of mechanical watchmaking to a younger and more diverse demographic.”

The Swatch x Blancpain Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms collection is available at the Swatch boutiques at Ion Orchard and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands from Saturday.

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