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Swatch Automatic Chronograph Review

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  • Swatch Automatic Chronograph Review

    The Swatch Auto Chrono has been on my wrist for the past 2 weeks, my camera is back from the shop, so it is time to finally write up a review of an interesting new piece of Swatch history.

    I had been keeping an eye out on Swatch's new automatic chronograph line since they were released last year, and the recent discussion here persuaded me that it was time to go ahead and buy it already. At $280 for a brand new ETA automatic chronograph, it is an intriguing watch for what it offers.

    I went with the Simply Pure model as I wanted a rubber strap. This is not the plastic Swatch strap of yesteryear, but an honest to goodness, comfortable rubber strap. The clean face with a few blue accents are also nice.

    The watch uses ETA's new caliber C01-211, which is based on the Lemania 5100. This movement is also being used by Tissot, so I expect we will be seeing more of it in the future. It uses 15 jewels and a variety of plastic parts to minimize cost. It is a hacking and hand-windable movement.

    Surprisingly, my tests showed that it is running at about +7 seconds per day. I made that measurement a couple days after I received it, so it may have settled down a little since then. Considering the price, it is not a bad performer.

    The watch is a very comfortable 44mm. It fits well on my 7 1/2" wrists and the Swatch strap with the crazy lug system makes it pleasant to wear for long stretches of time. The rubber strap is well designed with a thick metal buckle and ventilation grooves on the underside. The surface of the strap features the same pattern that appears on the face of the watch.

    You can see that this is a substantial Swatch in the side-by-side photo with my RGM 151P.

    The dial is nicely patterned and is very subtle. As seen in the following picture, the pattern actually disappears at certain angles.

    One of the interesting features is the use of different finishing patterns on each of the subdials. It adds visual interest without being overbearing.

    The finish on the dial is nice and the watch is very legible in most lighting conditions.

    The chapter ring is subdivided into 1/5 second increments and has subtle blue markings every 5 minutes.

    The pushers and crown have a brushed metal finish. The pushers are firm, yet responsive. I particularly like the shape of the crown.

    The stationary bezel is made of metal and has a brushed finish with polished markers at the main indices.

    Aside from the movement, what sets this Swatch apart from most other Swatches is the use of a sapphire crystal with a mineral glass crystal on the back. The rear mineral glass crystal is mostly frosted with a clear viewing area to the balance wheel.

    Overall, my impressions of this watch are very positive. It is a solid piece that is comfortable and accurate. My single minor complaint is that the second hand lines up about 1/10 of a second off the mark. Other than that, I think this is an absolute bargain for what you get.


  • #2
    Nice, I like it. GOOD GRAB !
    "So Many Watches / So Little Time"


    • #3
      Thanks! I really enjoyed seeing such clear photos and reading your thoughtful review. I may be tempted before long to buy that blue one I noticed recently...
      Time is Money, except on Dark Side of the Moon


      • #4
        That blue one has the best dial of the autos and I was sorely tempted by it. I went for the one I did mostly because of the rubber strap and one of my other recent acquisitions has a blue dial.

        For the price, I'd say it would be hard to be disappointed.


        • #5
          Thanks, Brian, that was very cool. Looks like a steal for the price!


          • #6
            Thanks for the positive comments! I think this is going to be a nice go-to watch when I don't want to worry about dinging up a watch. Being a Swatch, it is just a fun, casual piece.


            • #7
              Very nice work! I've had my eye on these.


              • #8
                Nice review! I must express some disappointment...

       what Swatch has done with the 5100. Gone are the things that made it a great movement, especially the central minute counter. It was never a high-class motor to begin with, but as rugged and dependable as a Dodge slant Six.
                Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with plastic parts, but to mix them into an already inexpensive movement in order to shave more pennies just seems like a poor decision to me.

                You're right, it's a lot of watch for the money. I just wish they had left the 5100 alone, I guess. I'd have paid a little more. It seems there is a lot of competition in the inexpensive watch market, and in the Ultra Expensive watch market. The stuff in the middle seems to be disappearing fast.


                • #9
                  You would think that the economies of scale would have allowed them to keep the 5100 more or less as it was. The central minute counter would have been awesome to have on a watch like this. It makes me wonder if it was more of a marketing decision to do away with that than a technical decision. It may have cannibalized some of their other sales.

                  And I totally agree on the mid-range market. It seems to be a place no one wants to be. They don't want to be lumped together with the low end, and they just don't have the goods to be truly high-end. Oris is one of the few manufacturer's I can think of off-hand that seems fairly content with its mid-range position.


                  • #10
                    Awesome collection.. I like the pics.. Can you please share further details & price, or any online way to buy. Thanks in advance..


                    • #11
                      Cool, and very nice !
                      "So Many Watches / So Little Time"


                      • #12
                        Great review B. Solid work, nice photos and informative text. As they say on the intertubes, more like this please.

                        As for the watch, I won't argue with anyone's comments other than to add, I support any company making reasonably priced, mechanical watches. I think it's somewhat telling the way they frosted the back crystal but that's a nit, at best.

                        A mechanical chrono that is reasonably accurate for $250. Sounds like a deal.