When Swatch hit the enormous three-O in March 2013, the fashion-watch occurrence commandeered an whole floor of the Baselworld exchange fair, filling it with every single one of their 5,000-or-so watches. Something big was going to happen, and it sure did: the Sistem51. A 100 watch, that became the talk of a town more used to 10,000 price tags. Like its legendary vinyl forebear, Sistem51 sticks to (surprise, surprise) 51 parts, but — amazingly — it is currently a purely mechanical watch, instead of battery-powered quartz, together with all its cogs mounted on a single twist. Oh, and it is made solely by robots in a way like no other. Some were, and stay snobbish about its plastic micro-mechanics, but you can not help but goggle at the achievement of creating a self-winding motion with less than half the usual components, packing 90 hours of power reserve (the norm is about 40), also claiming a precision of +/-7 seconds a day — nearly precise enough to earn’chronometer’ status, of which Rolex, Omega and Breitling all boast. Currently available in metal’Irony’ guise, for a dressier look, Sistem51 is your anti-fashion fashion watch: defiantly sophisticated, intentionally anarchic. The Way The Swatch Sistem51 Came To Be All the bubblegum designs, artist collabs and down-with-the-kids marketing aside, folks forget how radical the Swatch watch has been. Far from becoming just another trendy fad of the 80s, Swatch was conceived in reaction to a severe (in the watch world, at least) catastrophe: from the early’70s onwards, handmade mechanical watches were being threatened with obsolescence by cheap, mass-produced granite watches hanging from the Far East. Even James Bond had discarded his Rolex for a Seiko digital. In stark contrast to the pouting, Swatch-toting teenie boppers on the cover of Smash Hits, it required a short, bearded, instead plump engineering consultant called Nicolas G. Hayek to turn the fortunes of Swiss watchmaking around. The bail-out banks called upon Hayek, who spent 300 million Swiss francs of his cash, afterward, as president, dragged SMH kicking and screaming into the modern era with manufacturing lines, machination, and one daring, desperate movement: the Swatch watch. An early Swatch advertisement from the’80s It had been invented almost by accident. An SMH engineer called Elmar Mock had recklessly spent 500,000 francs on an injection molding machine at precisely the same year the company had made 4,000 staff redundant. When his boss found out, he had two hours to come up with a proposition: a cheap quartz watch that utilized ultrasonic welding to construct the mechanism directly into the circumstance. No screws, watertight, with just 51 parts, and little else to go wrong. Fortunately for Mock, SMH was already looking for an inexpensive new product, so — appropriately chastened — he was given only six months to bring his’Swatch’ to promote. Hayek pitched it perfectly to take advantage of an era defined by disposable earnings and style over content. The normal Swatch owner used their collection as a psychological statement to suit whatever their mood took them on a particular moment. Today you can keep your dad’s Omega or mommy’s Cartier safely locked out for special occasions and, for regular use, just throw in your’second view’ (really the origin of this title, maybe not’Swiss watch‘ as most presume ).