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Swatch’s new ‘1983’ watches are made from plants

If you’ve had half an eye on the watch world recently, you’ll know that the 1980s are – to co-opt that decade’s idiom – back, back, back. Hublot, for instance, has reinterpreted its 1980 Classic Original; Breitling has relaunched 1984’s Chronomat; Cartier has reintroduced its 1985 hit, the Pasha.

Now, Swatch, a brand whose genesis lies in the horological milieu of that decade, is also looking to its roots. But it’s marrying a set of its original designs with a new achievement in sustainability.

Swatch was a child of the quartz crisis. As battery-powered timepieces, especially digital watches, exploded in popularity, Switzerland lost its footing in the lower end of the market. Swatch was founded to produce affordable, analogue, quartz timepieces that, crucially, came with a “Swiss made” label. Its launch on 1 March 1983 was a thunderous broadside against the dominant Asian manufacturers and is now seen as a major inflection point in the history of watchmaking.

Hence Swatch’s new “1983” collection, comprising eleven watches that re-spin classic designs from its debut year – only, with a twist. Each watch is made from “bio-sourced” materials produced from the seeds of the castor plant and is presented in packaging made from fully biodegradable paper foam. To symbolise this melding of the past and the future – an endeavour that the company is calling “Bio-Reloaded” – the typeface of the watches is the same as that created for Swatch’s new headquarters.

In the future, Swatch hopes to roll out bio-sourced materials across all of its models, quartz and mechanical. It is the latest in a run of disruptive ideas that have emerged from the brand in recent years. In 2013, for instance, it launched Sistem51, a machine-assembled automatic movement made from just 51 components secured by a single screw; in 2017 it launched Swatch x You, a means of customising watches to order post-assembly. Bio-Reloaded, says Swatch, continues “the brand’s innovation journey, marking yet another benchmark in the industry – born in 1983, made in 2020”.

Source: GQ