Hello 1983. Your Swatch is calling.

We lived in Switzerland for a few years in the early 1980s at a time when the CHF exchange rate was advantageous for us, as well as when the US bank interest rates for our home money was earning something crazy like 14%. In other words, we could live pretty high in the Alps for peanuts.

Enter the invention of the Swatch in 1983 and we bought them by the gross to bring home to friends and family for Christmas. We bought some for ourselves too.

When we were all together this week for the 13th birthday party, the birthday girl had a new Swatch on which started the conversation of who still had the original ones we bought them. I was shocked how many hands went up.


Not one of the ones I still have keeps on ticking and no, I don’t have a one of the original plastic cases, AND, off all these shown, I’m not sure which ones are from the first year, 1983 and which ones we bought later.

I’m 99% sure that the navy blue one is original, noting the day of the week is in French, which seems likely we bought it in Switzerland.


The one I wore the most is the one that looks the most beat, the red banded with the blue face.



There are a couple that look like they’ve never been worn (like the red one above, left, that I think was bought in NYC much later, like in the late 80s.) It says MusicAll but I don’t see that it plays any tune but duh, every one has a dead battery!

The black one above, in the middle, is well worn so it must have been a favorite. I’ve asked family members with their original Swatches to take photos of them and text them to me and I’ll do a follow up to this post to see if anyone’s watch is from 1983.

I had hoped to find someone’s blog or a good Swatch website with photos of all the 1983 original designs but so far no luck. Post a link here in the comments if you find one.

Meanwhile, I don’t even wear a watch anymore since the invention of the iPhone. But these are so cool and a fun time warp I may revive one with a new battery and go retro.

Anyone else have an old (or new) Swatch?

18 thoughts on “Hello 1983. Your Swatch is calling.

  1. I have a Swatch- one with a black face which makes it darn near impossible to read the time. Will try to find it.
    Didn’t Tiffany’s have a deal with Swatch at one point?

    1. I think I had one where the face lit up but I can’t prove that. Agree that they were often hard to read, especially as the plastic watch face got easily scratched.
      I don’t remember the deal with Tiffany. Seems possible.

    1. Did I read the last sentence of the first link correctly – that Swatch now owns Harry Winston jewelers?????????????????????? I fell off my chair. I see the article was written in 2014 but that’s not so long ago.

      Free battery? I am surprised. How do they afford that? As you said, I’m sure there’s fine print, only one per customer, but if I spread out the watches among my family and send them each to get a new battery, I could get them all back up and running. Thanks for the tip!

  2. I’ve got a black one (white face) and a white one – still use ’em.
    Swatch and Mercedes collaborated on the Smart Car:

    I kinda like them even though I laugh at the people driving them with their one way express ticket to the afterlife.

    1. Are your Swatches new or vintage?

      Now, as for that car collaboration – I agree that driving it is short line for a quick death if hit. I cringe when I see one on I-95. First of all, they are so low that a tractor trailer actually might NOT see it. Secondly, there is NO wiggle room for error. I’ll pass.

      1. Vintage (gotta be 20-25 years old). Their upmarket Diaphane One was really appealing until one got to the price (about $4k when introduced)

        1. The plastic case is such a deal killer. That price is could get me closer to the IWC Portuguese Chronometer that weally, weally want (if I really needed a watch at all).

      2. The funny thing is that I regularly drove the miata at 80 mph on interstates but kept the porsche below 74. Give the driver of a big, scary truck a smile and he’ll wave and smile back. Helps to be an old broad, though.

  3. The Tiffany/Swatch deal turned pretty ugly as I recall. Easy enough to look it up but it’s too nice a day for that.
    I still wear a watch although I don’t know why….

  4. Have the original 80s vintage 12 flags model. People in the Times Square store drool over it when I take it in for my free replacement battery. I bring in 4-5 at a time for the free battery.

    1. Neat. I’ll do a photo search for the 12 Flags model.

      Now that I see it I KNOW we had this one once. It’s more of a guys watch model and with my brother in law the Navy man like you, I bet I gave it to him. I’ll make sure and ask.

      Also thanks for the tip that you can bring more than one watch at a time in for a battery.

  5. Nothing like the basic Black rubber band with white face w/day/date model. Shower/swim and go thru airport TSA pre check without putting in a bin. My daily watch.
    My other watch is a Rolex stainless steel date just. No free batteries. Heavy and not really subway friendly or TSA pre check viable. The Range Rover of watches.
    Also notable is that my local Swatch store gladly will polish the crystal.
    Mr. B nautical swatch is cool!

    1. Huh, interesting but I’m not sure about that timeline. I know for a fact that when we bought our first Swatches in Switzerland, they were not available in the USA yet. I see watches in that timeline that have the day of the week in English.

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