One of the most discussed releases this year has been the Omega × Swatch Speedmaster MoonSwatch. Whether you like it or not, we never saw a watch get so much attention before, not only in watch publications like Fratello but also in the mainstream media. I can’t remember seeing the new release of a watch brand covered on national television.

Omega × Swatch MoonSwatch

The most talked-about watch of 2022

On March 24th, Swatch announced the MoonSwatch models — 11 pieces that all had their own “destination.” It was a complete surprise to most people, except the few journalists (including us) invited a week earlier to Swatch HQ to look at this new secret project with Nick Hayek Jr., CEO of Swatch Group. On March 26th, the Swatch boutiques were stocked and ready to sell a maximum of two MoonSwatches per person. The first boutique to open was in Australia, and at some point, there was a queue of no less than 5,000 people. Swatch decided to bring the maximum number of MoonSwatch watches per customer down to one. Well, you know the rest of the story…  Even up to recently, there were long queues whenever a Swatch boutique had a delivery of MoonSwatch models.

Nick Hayek Jr., CEO of Swatch Group (right) and RJ (left)

No e-commerce

Then, there was — and still is — the debate about having these watches unavailable online on the Swatch website. Even though it’s 2023 and the watch industry has largely embraced e-commerce, Swatch chose not to have online sales for the MoonSwatch. When I asked Mr. Hayek Jr. about this in an interview I conducted earlier this year (here), he said: “There’s no emotion in online buying. It’s a carefully produced Swiss Made watch and not a commodity. After the whole world had to stay at home for two years because of COVID, it was about time to celebrate and to bring the people back on the streets, meet together, and revive the brick-and-mortar stores.”

Angry Omega × Swatch MoonSwatch

The MoonSwatch is now easier to get in places with a Swatch boutique

It was oil on the fire to many Swatch fans that were after a MoonSwatch but also to those who hated it from the start and liked to vent their thoughts. However, even if you did like one of the MoonSwatch models (or all 11), it wasn’t — and still isn’t — easy to get one. You can purchase one from the scalpers, but otherwise, it can be frustrating, especially in places with no Swatch boutique nearby. However, when I was in Paris recently, I visited the Swatch boutique on the Champs-Élysées, and there were several available.

The same happened when I was at Charles de Gaulle Airport a day later. There, customers could also pick up a MoonSwatch and choose from three different models. Also, one of my colleagues, who lives very close to the Swatch boutique in Rotterdam, lets me know it isn’t difficult to purchase one (she bought several up until very recently).

Omega × Swatch MoonSwatch Fiat

Do you still want a MoonSwatch?

So yes, if there’s no Swatch boutique in your area, it is likely going to be difficult to purchase one. I am afraid that even the 11 MoonSwatch-branded Fiat 500s will not change that. Although many complained that they were “over it” already in the first week after its launch (and then still bought one later, as I’ve noticed a few times), I wonder whether those who wanted one and didn’t manage to get a MoonSwatch still want one now.

Sinara sporting the Swatch MoonSwatch and the Omega Speedmaster Professional

The MoonSwatch also boosted Moonwatch sales

All that said, the demand for the MoonSwatch was real, and although there will always be scalpers trying to make a buck, the ones who just wanted to have a MoonSwatch to wear were in the majority for sure. The Swatch MoonSwatch also had a positive effect on the Omega Speedmaster Professional. Although the current Moonwatch was already one of Omega‘s best-selling watches, the MoonSwatch gave it an extra boost, at least in the first weeks after the launch of the Swatch Speedmasters.

Not only did the Omega and Swatch Group CEOs claim that the sales for the Speedmaster increased, but we also saw that — based on transaction data — the number of Omega Speedmaster watches sold on the pre-owned platform Chrono24 increased significantly.

Heated MoonSwatch discussions

We published quite a bit around the launch of the MoonSwatch, and I enjoyed all the comments and discussions around its release. A large portion of the comments seemed quite heated, and some people got worked up. And I get it to a certain extent because it’s frustrating when you want something badly and can’t purchase it. Others simply hated the watch and felt it was cheaply made in China.

Well, we debunked the suggestion that it was made in China by going to the Swatch factories in Switzerland and having a peek inside (click here). That visit surprised me, to be honest, as I did not expect Swatch to be so transparent about the facilities and production process of its watches.

The Swatch production facility in Grenchen

Another thing that surprised me is the level of detail that Swatch put into the Bioceramic MoonSwatch. Sure, it is a lightweight watch (that seems to put many people off, but what did they expect?), but the level of detail was just mind-boggling to me given the price point of €260. And not only that, but the high number of manual interventions between the different production steps was also something I’d not expect at this price level.

Queuing up for the Swatch boutique in Amsterdam on March 26th

Things that could have been done better

But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, unfortunately. As written above, some people got quite upset (to put it mildly) about the fact that the watches weren’t available — not at the start, and still in many regions, not even today. Creating such a tremendous buzz around a watch release is cool, but you must ensure that people can buy it. A bit of waiting doesn’t hurt, but we’re now more than half a year down the line, and it’s still not always possible to go to a boutique and get one. The concept of the 11 Fiat 500 cars that drive around with some stock was also a nice idea, but even there, we heard people left empty-handed after approaching the car. A pop-up concept is nice, but can you fulfill the huge demand with what fits in the trunk of a Fiat 500?

I don’t have the answer, though I firmly believe that offering it online somehow is the way to go in 2022. This is especially true for countries or regions where the density of physical boutiques is low. The entire PR campaign for the MoonSwatch has been tremendous, no doubt. It’s just that, in the end, the logistical process wasn’t as good as it should have been. On the other hand, despite the lack of availability, it is probably the most talked-about watch of 2022.

Swatch × Omega Speedmaster MoonSwatch Mission To Neptune

More Swatch!

Something I noticed since the release of the MoonSwatch, however, is that more people are wearing Swatch again, be it the MoonSwatch or other models. When I was in Paris, Geneva, London, and Los Angeles in the past few weeks, I saw people on the streets wearing the MoonSwatch. I’m not even talking about watch-related events. So this project didn’t only benefit the Omega Speedmaster. It also had a very positive effect on Swatch.

The typical Swatch leaflet from the 1980s. Image source: Stay Tuned To Swatch

Perhaps that was the biggest achievement of this entire project — putting Swatch back in the spotlight. Where it belongs, I should add, as Swatch did miracles for the entire Swiss watch industry in the 1980s. I always felt a bit bad for Swatch as it became astonishingly rare to spot one on someone’s wrist in the last 20 years. That’s especially true in comparison to the 1980s and 1990s when everyone wore a Swatch. I don’t think that level of popularity will return due to the cost of a MoonSwatch compared to the original models However, it’s good that Swatch is “back” and proving it’s still very relevant. I have never had some many people ask me if I could help them source a watch before. Even friends of my parents and neighbors got in touch with me to see if I could help (I couldn’t).

The Swatch Museum in Biel

What’s next?

And it also leads me to the next topic. What will Swatch do now? Asking my nine-year-old daughter and her friends what they’d love to see in a watch (for them) gave me a clear answer — a girl-sized watch (26mm, I guess) with leopard print on the strap and dial. But also, they’d love to have a Swatch that has something to do with Roblox or Toca Boca (if you don’t have young kids, you’ll have to google that). As for me, I would love to see some classics from the past make a return in a proper execution (none of that Big Bold stuff). With the MoonSwatch, Swatch showed that it is still very relevant, and I hope the momentum continues.

How about you? Do you already have your MoonSwatch, or are you not interested anymore due to the lack of supply? And perhaps more importantly, what would you like to see next from Swatch? Let us know in the comments.