Sistem51 ‘Irony’ hits the Middle East

When Swatch unveiled its Sistem51 at BaselWorld 2013, the brand raised more than a few eyebrows because this was the first watch in the world to feature an entirely automated calibre production process. Swatch took the Sistem51 collection forward earlier this year, when it announced seven new Sistem51 ‘Irony’ references – that was back in July and they’re now finally on sale in the region.

The Sistem51 Irony watches definitely look more up-market than their predecessors.

The Sistem51 Irony watches definitely look more up-market than their predecessors.

The key difference between the previous references and the Irony models is plain to see – there’s a whole lot of metal. Swatch says the new stainless steel cases add a bit of sophistication to the Sistem51, and says these watches are built for the boardroom, exhibitions and weekend adventures.

In addition to the stainless steel case, the Irony watches offer slightly more up market dials, strap options, and there’s now also a proper bracelet. Prices have increased but the information we have shows that none of the new references cost more than $250 (AED900), so you’re still getting a lot of value in our book. In comparison, the previous models were all less than $164 (AED600).

Going purely on the press pictures, this is our favorite of the Irony watches.

Going purely on the press pictures, this is our favorite of the Irony watches.

The movement remains unchanged, and given the aggressive price point of the Sistem51 watches, we weren’t expecting Swatch to unveil a new movement so soon. The movement, as before, can be seen through a plastic exhibition caseback and features 51 parts, and an impressive 90-hour power reserve. Swatch says this automatic calibre can run for 10- to 20-years without needing a service, which is damned impressive.

We loved the original Sistem51 (we added the blue reference to our permanent collection) because it was a ‘cool watch’. The heavy use of plastic (which included the case) didn’t bother us in the least, we thought the dial was interesting, and the movement, well, we just liked the fact that Swatch was honest about what it was (Swatch wasted no time in telling journalists that even the escapement and pallet fork were made from plastic).

We're digging that cream and black dial.

We’re digging that cream and black dial.

The movement also had a peripheral rotor (fairly uncommon), and of all the automatic watches we have in our permanent collection, nothing – and we mean nothing – starts running as quickly as the Sistem51. Sometimes just picking it up and tilting it slightly will get the running seconds hand going  (we encourage you to try this out at the Swatch stores).

Our only real niggle with our Sistem51 was its low-rent strap – it was not as comfortable as we’d like it to be, and because of the proprietary Swatch three-prong attachment system, it’s impossible to find aftermarket straps. We’re therefore very interested in checking out the new rubber and leather strap options.

To learn more about the Swatch Sistem51, click here.

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