A brief history of Swatch watches

In the late 1970s, Nicolas G. Hayek effectively rescued the Swiss watch industry. At the time his ideas seemed radical or revolutionary but the current healthy state of that industry today suggests that his approach was right.

One of his big ideas was 'the second watch'. Not the expensive, well-crafted piece of jewellery that you might own (and service) for years, but a cheaper watch, made from plastic with standard movements, easily replaceable batteries and styling which you can choose to match your mood or your clothing. And it wouldn't just be your second watch, but one of many that you might own.

It's an idea which proved to be successful and in 2006, Swatch celebrated the production of watch number 333,000,000. Swatch has clearly established itself as an innovator, and it's creativity is evident in the enormous range of designs that they have produced. And their designs address every part of a watch: the face (the dial), the body (the case), the strap, the buckle and the packaging it comes in. They are fun to own and collect.

And they've proven to be reliable too, most are ETA quartz movements powered by a battery, but there have also been manual movements with automatic winders and no battery required.  They only failures we've experienced are quartz watches which have been left non-running, without a battery. Watches should be kept running.  Fit them with batteries and replace them when they've run out. The first battery should last for three years, after that it will need changing more frequently. If you have a manual watch, then try and remember to wind it regularly.

Replacing the battery in a Swatch Watch

If you have a Swatch watch and you’re near an official Swatch store, they may change it for free, depending on the country that you're in.

Otherwise, on most Swatch watches, the battery is found under a small, round metal cover and it's fairly easy to replace yourself, so long as you note the following:

  • The battery cover is held in place by three little metal tags. By turning the cover a few millimetres anti-clockwise, the tags will come out of their slots and the cover will open. You can use a fat, flat headed screwdriver or a coin, but if you use anything metal, then cover it in tape first to prevent scratching.
  • The battery may now pop out on its own, but if not, don't use anything metal to retrieve it. We use plastic tweezers. If you put weight on one side of the battery, the other side may flip up. Be patient!
  • Only fit the same size of battery. If the battery says 377, then you must replace it with a 377 battery (or another manufacturer's equivalent, such as SR626 or AG4). Don’t try fitting a battery of a different size.
  • Put the new battery in, with the positive side up.
  • Place the cover with the three tags aligned to their slots and turn clockwise a millimetre or so until they're locked.

Sometimes a Swatch will have a round, plastic battery cover instead, with no slot for a coin or screwdriver. This must be levered up, using a screwdriver. Try to do it a little at a time and from opposite sides.

 

Maker's marks for Swatch Watches
The back of an automatic Swatch watch
The back of an automatic Swatch watch
 
A fairly standard Swatch dial
A fairly standard Swatch dial
1
A genuine Swatch leather strap
Another genuine Swatch leather strap
Another genuine Swatch leather strap
A genuine Swatch expanding metal bracelet
A genuine Swatch expanding metal bracelet
A small standard Swatch dial
A small standard Swatch dial
Standard Swatch paperwork
Standard Swatch paperwork

 

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