Review Swatch Sistem51 - Blue

Discussion in 'Gadgets and Consumer Electronics' started by JD666, Aug 26, 2015.

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  1. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    After previewing the Swatch Sistem51 here -

    I decided to go ahead and buy one. Though I am not a Swatch fan, thanks to their funky designs and cheap plastic body/glass finish, the Sistem51 intrigued me for the innovations it brought to the arena of Automatic watches, and the attention to detail in the design development.

    Swatch has over 17 patents for the Automatic mechanism, has also created a whole new mechanism and manufacturing line for this watch. The Sistem51 is unique in the fact that it is made only by machines, and the spring is also balanced by a laser. With a design life of 20+ years, you essentially throw it once something breaks or fails. The case is sealed, so you cannot do much with the watch.

    Moving on, here's a hands-on look at the Swatch Sistem51 -


    The Sistem51 comes in a regular Swatch packing, with a cardboard sleeve around a plastic case.


    What sets it apart is the rear of the package, that exposes the Automatic Movement. You can see the flywheel, spring and other gear assemblies thru this.

    With a frequency of 3Hz, the balance wheel has an Alteration per hour rate of 21,600.


    With the cover off. The watch is held in place by the white bands that are connected to the top half of the container.


    Once you open the container, you can easily lift the watch out.


    The Sistem51 has a 42mm case, so is slightly bigger than the regular time pieces that Swatch makes. I'll post a comparo shot with my other Swatch for a reference.


    I somehow find the back pretty fascinating, vs the front. However the front also tells a story that I will go into later.


    The case is made of translucent plastic, similar to what you would find on a mobile device or or pencil case (is what comes to mind :D )

    Everything on the outside is plastic/silicone barring the pins that hold the straps and the buckle.


    Another shot of the case (with flash).


    The buckle. Also plastic. Though it feels flimsy, it does seem that it should be able to take reasonable amount of abuse. The straps though appear to be made of leather, are silicone, with the stitch adding the impression.


    A close-up of the strap. Feel and finish on the wrist is top notch.


    A shot in sun-light. The Sistem51 should be able to fit all wrists. Though I have slim wrists, the dial did not appear too big on my arm.


    The watch face is clear and legible. The white markings on the minute and hour hand have luminous paint, which is just about sufficient. It is weaker compared to the Seiko, but is sufficient for daily usage.

    All the dots on the perimeter of the dial (not on the bezel) are also marked in Luminous paint.

    The Connected dots represent the solder points in the Automatic Mechanism. You can actually compare the points between both sides (front and back) and correspond them to each other.

    The red dots indicate the jewel/bearing mounts where gears have been installed for running. Keeping everything within 51 parts has had a fair level of challenges, I'm sure.


    The rear of the watch. If you look closely, you can see the flywheel ring on the periphery of the mechanism.

    This is in fact a transparent piece connected to the center hub (where it says Nineteen jewels). So that you can see the movement, even with the flywheel present.

    The Jewels represent the number of synthetic rubies that have been installed to act as a friction reducing pivot point for the gears to rotate on. Compared to diamond, which has a hardness of 10, these have a hardness rating of 9.

    Also in the packaging, was an invitation to join a Swatch club, Warranty card, and user manual.
    I did find some interesting information in the user manual, that would generally get overlooked.


    The Synthetic Glass can be polished to remove scratches. Good info to know. Only other precaution is to protect it from hard knocks or jerks. Which is acceptable considering the mechanism inside.

    This watch is water resistant to 30 meters, but prolonged submersion is not advised.

    Wearing it -

    - After a few minutes I didn't really feel the weight/bulk of the watch. Not that it is heavy to begin with.

    - The ticking is pretty audible. At night, I could hear it tick from over 3 feet away.

    - The mechanism does feel plasticky when you wind it. Feels like one of those small wind up toys. Actually sounds like one too.

    - Dial is huge and legible. The dots can be confusing/mis-guiding at times.

    - At times you can feel the flywheel rotate. The sensation is a bit unnatural, but with feedback in Smartwatches, is pretty much regular.

    - The 90 hr power reserve is a plus. Not had to wind the watch at all.

    - Not an attention seeker watch/Swatch. Good for those who would like something unique but discreet.

    The System Blue was introduced in 2013 as the first line up of the series. And personally, the one I liked the most.

    Summary -

    At 540 AED or about 9750 INR (at current rate of 18+ Rs/AED), the Swatch Sistem51 makes for a very interesting addition to anyone's collection. Whether you are keen on an Automatic, or a Swatch, the Sistem51 kind of ticks all the points, while getting you something unique in today's era of automated manufacturing.
  2. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Following up to this review after about 8 months of ownership. The Swatch Sistem 51 became my default watch for nearly every activity.

    I'll probably retract some earlier statements, since I hardly feel the watch on my wrist anymore. The large dial does make for good readability, especially while driving.
    The glow in the night indications help, though not as much. I found a knack of rotating the flywheel with a flick of the wrist, and it became an unwanted habit of sorts.

    After 8 months of heavy usage, I found the stitch on the silicone strap coming off. I sheared off the extra thread, lest it pull out the rest of the stitch.
    Also had knocked the watch here and there, but had a bad scrape that left a deep gouge on the face of the watch.

    Headed to the Swatch outlet in my city to replace the wrist straps, since something was amiss ever since I had not worn this watch. Was I getting too fond of it? A Swatch!?

    So the before condition -


    You can see the missing threads.


    The person manning the swatch showroom, offered to polish the plastic of the watch. I had totally forgotten about that it could be polished for minor scratches etc.

    So he used the above compound (Poly watch). You can see the watch in the background with the compound spread on the face.

    Here's how bad the scratch was -


    You can see it streaking across the face, right next to the few drops of the polishing compound.


    Here's a pink arrow pointing to it.

    After 5 minutes of letting the compound rest and then rubbing it away, the below is the outcome. Before adding the picture, I would also like to call out that Swatch did a terrific job of replacing my watch straps. He didn't have them in stock, so called another outlet, and had them send him a spare set. In the meantime he actually removed straps from a new watch and installed them on mine, so that I am not inconvenienced (The other store was about 40 kms away).
    Replacing the strap is not hard, so it isn't like the person buying the new watch will be missing out on anything/factory fit etc.

    This is what my Swatch looks like now -


    Letting the light run thru -



    The only remnant of that deep gouge is one small speck/dot that I can happily live with. To highlight, here's the above image with a pink circle marking the dot/speck.


    The watch strap were 80 AED or about 1450 INR.

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