Introducing – Swatch Sistem51 Irony, the automatic Swatch now in Steel (specs & price)
Remember, back in 2013, Swatch (the brand, not the Group) introduced a new watch that came like a blast,a watch in the same vein of the affordable and fun ideas of the brand, with an immense respect to the 1983 concept, but with a stupendous amount of innovation, as carried in its plastic case was the first automatic movement produced in-house by Swatch… and in a very specific industrial way. This was the Swatch Sistem51 (that we extensively reviewed and explained here). For those who are resistant to plastic cases, here is the new Swatch Sistem51 Irony, the automatic Swatch now released in Steel.
From the very beginning, in 1983, when the concept was launched by Nicolas Hayek, Swatch watches were cased (and strapped) in plastic. This feature is simply part of the overall idea of Swatch and their DNA – it’s like the red color of a Ferrari, it’s closely interrelated. Thus, having a Swatch cased in stainless steel sounds like a weird idea, and this is exactly why the metallic range of Swatch is named Irony. In steel yes, but with the same impudence. After showing us the hyper-innovative – possible game-changing – Sistem51 in the traditional plastic case, the same movement is now used in a more serious version, the Swatch Sistem51 Irony.
The whole plastic concept (case, bezel, crown and bracelet) is here replaced by a full metal look, with all the external parts being crafted in stainless steel. Even if the shape of the Swatch Sistem51 Irony remains in the vein of the rest of the production (with the same rounded design and the specific 4 lugs to attach the straps), we now have a more serious look, with a case, a bezel and a crown in steel – and in option, the bracelet can even be made in this metal. More adult, more formal, more conventional maybe… However, wearing a plastic watch with fancy colors at work is probably not possible for all of us. This steel edition could be the option to enjoy a great automatic movement with an affordable price, on a daily basis – or just to enjoy the concept of the Sistem51 in a more formal style.
This stainless steel Swatch Sistem51 Irony not only feels more luxurious on the case side but this feel also goes for the dials and hands. Both are clearly more refined, with more discreet and more classical looks and some sun-ray or waves patterns. The hands are now made out of metal and not plastic anymore. Several styles are available, from traditional “sector” looks, to nautical themes and even an aviator style version, with black dial (the only with a brushed case). A two-tone version, with bezel and bracelet links gold plated, even exists. A clear upmarket move from Swatch.
Apart from the new steel construction, what’s so special about the Swatch Sistem51? Well, to make it short, this watch features the first in-house produced automatic movement of the brand, in a price range below 200 euros. Already interesting, this is certainly because of the industrialization process that this movement has to be regarded. It is indeed the first automatic movement to be entirely (fully, completely, 100%…) produced by machines. Even the adjustments are done by lasers and not by watchmakers. The genius of the Sistem51 is that it’s made of only 51 parts, spread around 5 modules and linked one to another by only one central screw. The assembling of the parts, including the 19 jewels and the regulating organ, is done by machine and uses only solders. The movement of the Swatch Sistem51 is a real engineering feat – and its specs are not bad either, as it boasts 90 hours of power reserve and has an accuracy of +/- 7 seconds per a day. Some watches with 4-figure price tag can’t state the same, believe me.
The Swatch Sistem51 Irony, with its steel construction and its automatic movement, remains fortunately rather close to the first version in terms of price. While the plastic edition starts around 150 euros, this Irony version starts at 175 Euros on straps, 195 Euros on steel bracelet and 210 Euros in two-tones version. You have no excuses not to go automatic and chic anymore…
For more technical details about the Swatch Sistem51 Irony, please refer to our previous review of the plastic version and go over Swatch.com.
Nobody already had excuses to not go automatic and chic. 🙂
thanks for this article.
I can’t wait to see these on the flesh (as far as I know they should be available in shops mid september) so that I can make an addition to my swatch collection. The pilot one is the most likely to become part of it.
Once again Swatch did a good job not only technically but also from a marketing perspective. An entry level watch as this can appeal to younger people, leading them to became interested and passionate about mechanical horologery;in the mid-long term most of them will start to wish to have a very good, “tradtitional brand” watch and it is likely they will fall into a Swatch group brand….
I have only owned one plastic Swatch but have owned 3 or 4 steel ones. All quartz. They’re good value in steel, much better made than some “watch people” would imagine, but I have no faith in the Sistem 51 “calibre”. If they ever decide to produce that in steel or brass, they’ll probably charge as much as a real automatic watch. Come to think of it, A 37mm Seiko 5 is still a better purchase for less money.
Swiss quartz? Fair enough.
Plastic mechanical? From anywhere? Nah!