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If the sistem51 were half the price I would get one but $150 is a lot for a plastic watch which looks and feels like a plastic watch. I wonder how they are selling? There is a Swatch outlet near me in Madrid, Spain- maybe some will end up there in six months or a year.

I'm not a Seiko fanatic but I think it's fair to compare Seiko 5's with the sistem51-they are at the same price point. And now that they are putting the hand-winding, hacking 4R36 movement in many of the new Seiko 5's, you're getting a serous automatic watch and you have a ton of styles to choose from. I'm more of an Orient guy myself. I've seen probably at least five video reviews of the Orient Bambino (for example) that say "wow- great watch for the money! feels like a much more expensive watch!" Reviews of the sistem51 have been mixed at best and I don't think anyone would say that you are getting a bargain. A far as collectability, have any Swatches really held their value over the years? I must say, though, that I like that they gave it a long power reserve (80 or 90 hours I think) and that the movement is antimagnetic. Those are cool things. If they put them between $50 and $75, I think every member here would get one and rave about it.
 

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You missed my point. People who buy a Sistem 51 are purposely avoiding a watch that looks or feels like an expensive watch.

That doesn't mean I don't agree that the price is high. But the market will correct that, eventually, if it turns out we are right.

I bought one as a souvenir in Geneva, for about the same money as a nice dinner for two around the corner from where I bought it. The dinner, though good, is now lost to memory, but I still have the watch. We also bought a Zenith and an Ebel while in Switzerland, and the duty we paid on our return, at 3%, was more than we paid for the Swatch. Price is a relative thing.

Rick "who would not buy a Seiko 5 as a souvenir on visiting Tokyo, which says it all" Denney
 
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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
... The Seiko 5 is the watch for the guy who wants to give the impression that he has a nice watch but that still only cost him fifty bucks. ...
I agree with your posts but I think this part might give the wrong impression about Seikos or the people who wear them, i.e., that Seiko tries to make poseur watches or that people who buy Seiko 5s are poseurs.

I imagine that Seiko just tries to make watches that they think look nice, and they're inexpensive due to market pressures. If that means they make cheap watches that look similar to more expensive watches, then okay. But there's a big difference between e.g. Seiko and Alpha.

Similarly, somebody wearing a Seiko 5 might just like how it looks and how it was priced, not with the intention of wanting to get a more expensive-looking watch for less money.

I wear my Orient Ray often. That's because I like it, not because I want to appear to be wearing an expensive watch. Some people ask me if I'm wearing a Rolex and it makes me feel uncomfortable to think that people might be getting this impression about it, but I don't think that should make me stop wearing a watch I like. :/
 

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I didn't say Seiko 5 owners are poseurs, and the fragility of many Seiko fans (and even many affordables fans in general) is what makes discussions about them tedious, to be honest.

Nevertheless, we see over and over again side-by-side comparisons of Seiko budget models and more expensive watches with the implied (and not always implied) question: why spend more? If one's purpose is to spend less because he has no answer to that question, then clearly he thinks his watch delivers a better impression than what would be expected for what he spent. That is true no matter the price point.

But Swatch buyers don't care if the watch seems better than its price. That's not at all part of their motivation.

Rick "noting that the 5 is a working-man's watch, while the Swatch is strictly a play watch" Denney
 
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Discussion Starter · #46 · (Edited)
I didn't say Seiko 5 owners are poseurs, and the fragility of many Seiko fans (and even many affordables fans in general) is what makes discussions about them tedious, to be honest.

Nevertheless, we see over and over again side-by-side comparisons of Seiko budget models and more expensive watches with the implied (and not always implied) question: why spend more? If one's purpose is to spend less because he has no answer to that question, then clearly he thinks his watch delivers a better impression than what would be expected for what he spent. That is true no matter the price point.

But Swatch buyers don't care if the watch seems better than its price. That's not at all part of their motivation.

Rick "noting that the 5 is a working-man's watch, while the Swatch is strictly a play watch" Denney
Well, somebody who wants to buy something cheap to give the impression that it's more expensive is sort of the definition of a poseur, so that is what you said, really.

I think you are misinterpreting the "why spend more?" question.

It doesn't necessarily imply that the cheap thing gives the same impression as the expensive thing, it may just literally be that question taken at face value, i.e., why spend more.

(Whoops, clicked on post prematurely.)

As an example, there are plenty of people who point to a cheap Kia vs. an expensive Mercedes and say "why spend more." What they mean is, the Kia has roughly the same functionality for all practical purposes. It will get you to and from the local grocery store the same percentage of times as the Mercedes, maybe more.

But these people aren't necessarily saying, hey, I'm going to buy this Kia and it will give the impression that I have a Mercedes. No.
 

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I wasn't the one who parked the Seiko 5 beside the Swatch Sistem 51 as the alternative thereto, so we are not comparing Kia to Mercedes. That is a red herring.

So, why would one suggest a cheap Seiko or Orient instead of a Sistem 51? Is it because it's more durable? That hasn't been shown, but common sense suggests neither will be serviced even if it's possible.

Is it because it keeps time more accurately? No. The Swatch is regulated to tighter claimed manufacturer accuracy specifications (of course, individual examples vary).

Is it because it wears more comfortably? Nope. The Swatch is nearly weightless and will not pull hair. Not necessarily so a cheap Seiko.

Is it because it's cheaper? Maybe, but it's a difficult comparison to make as of yet. The Swatch is still new on the market.

Is it because it looks nicer? This just has to be the major motivation for presenting the Seiko 5 as a better alternative. So, why would one claim the Seiko 5 is better looking? Let's explore that:

-It's metal.
-It has sparkly bits on the dial.
-parts of it are polished and shiny.

And countering that, the Swatch:

-is plastic.
-is funky or even goofy in its aesthetic design.
-demonstrates no sparkle at all.

Why are these aesthetic features important? It may be that a person likes the look of metal watches with some sparkle. And they would like that why? Because quality watches have established that look as the standard for nice watches.

Ergo, a person prefers the look of a Seiko 5 because it conforms to their expectation of a nice watch--an expectation established by nice watches. I do not consider that being a poseur, and if it is, then all watch owners are poseurs.

But some may actually prefer the look of a watch designed with a funkiness that purposely avoids or even opposes the standard of aesthetics established by more expensive watches. That could also be a pose, of course. Despite what you think and claim, I was not assigning moral values to those objectives.

The Seiko 5 and the Sistem 51 look so different that I see very little crossover or competition between them. A person with a cheap-watch budget will instantly reject the Seiko or the Swatch depending on their preferences.

Rick "who thinks the Seiko 5 versus Sistem 51 is a false choice" Denney
 

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Have you ever owned a watch longer than five years that was not serviced? I have. They continue to work, and mostly work well. In fact, I would go so far as to say a watch that is absolutely dry will probably run fine for a decade, even in continuous use, but will have suffered a lot of wear in that time making it expensive to service.

The Sistem 51 is disposable, with the idea that after a decade or more it will be so out of fashion that one would not wear it. After all, it's a Swatch--a "Second Watch"--none of which are intended as heirlooms.

The Seiko 5 is the watch for the guy who wants to give the impression that he has a nice watch but that still only cost him fifty bucks. Sure, it's serviceable, but who would spend a coupla hundred bucks to service a Seiko 5? In reality, they are just as disposable and just as likely to fail as the Sistem 51. But the way the Sistem 51 is made, it does not have all the regulating apparatus and so it is actually more durably regulated--there is no mobile stud carrier or regulator to get jarred out of position if it is knocked about.

The other aspect of the styling of a Seiko 5 is that one who wants a watch that looks like that would never consider a Sistem 51, and one who wants the styling of a Sistem 51 would never give a Seiko 5 a second glance. Thus, offering one as a better choice than the other is like saying that instead of that cheap two-seat hot hatchback, buy this stripped-down minivan instead, because it's a better value.

The Seiko 5 is the correct answer for someone who asks, "I want a cheap mechanical watch. What's a cheap watch that looks like an adult watch?"

The Sistem 51 is the correct answer for someone who asks, "I own 30 watches, and want something that I can wear just for fun when I want to deny the appearance of luxury and act like a kid, but still have a watch that works mechanically."

As the owner of many pin-lever watches back in the day, I can say with some assurance that they never lasted long enough to even need to be serviced. And I was a teenager before the Swatch existed. My suspicion is that Sistem 51 watches that are worn a lot will be destroyed by external damage long before the movement fails from lack of service. But I highly doubt many that are owned by adults will be worn every day.

Rick "they are fun, not fine" Denney
Tell the owner of a orange monster ($175 on amazon) that his watch is disposable and you will get a dirty look. The seiko 5 is $50 and way cheaper than the swatch. With inflation etc, even a rolex could cost more on service than the original price. My fathers date rolex cost more in service than he originally paid for it in 1970.

Yes I guess the swatch is the equivalent of a steak dinner. I suppose if $150 means nothing to someone. Then the question whether one should buy the watch or not becomes a moot point. After all, any question of "should I buy X?" Can be answered by "just buy it, it costs nothing." A patek is probably just as disposable to a multibillionaire because thats the cost of the fuel burnt on his private jet trip from LA to Texas to watch the cowboys game.

When you consider the swatch just like any fashion accessory that is thrown away after 5 years, well then I suppose it's fine to see it in that way. However, watches are personal and sentimental, and the OP should know that the system 51 does not give the OPTION for someone to keep the item after it has broken in 5-10 years. I still have my quartz swatch watches since when I was a kid, as they are quite sentimental, and they can work fine. A seiko monster will give the option to the owner whether to pay to maintain it, and it can be given away, passed down etc. this provide better value in my opinion at that price point. The main point is: $150 for a fashion throwaway watch vs $175 for a seiko monster that is not a throwaway watch. If one has got money to throwaway, then it's no brainer that asking this question probably cost more than $150 in time and effort.
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
... Why are these aesthetic features important? It may be that a person likes the look of metal watches with some sparkle. And they would like that why? Because quality watches have established that look as the standard for nice watches.

Ergo, a person prefers the look of a Seiko 5 because it conforms to their expectation of a nice watch--an expectation established by nice watches. I do not consider that being a poseur, and if it is, then all watch owners are poseurs.
...
You wrote a lot about Swatch in your post. Like I said in an earlier post, I agree with almost everything you're saying, and that includes the Swatch stuff, so I'm cutting it from the quote.

What I'm saying is that Seiko likely designs their watches to look nice, not to "give the impression" (your words) that they cost more than they actually do. And most people who buy those Seikos buy them because they look nice, again, not to "give the impression" that they're nice watches.

It has been possible to make shiny metal things in a cost effective way for many, many decades. I think by now everybody knows you can go to a drug store and pay $20 to get a watch that's just as shiny as any other watch. So if everybody knows this, then the people buying shiny watches must do it simply because they like how they look, and not because it "gives an impression" other than they think it goes with their fashion sense.
 

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Obviously a Sistem51 can't be serviced, so the argument against the watch makes that a flaw. But how many people are having their $100 Seiko 5 serviced? The cost of service could be 3x-4x the cost.

As for the naysayers of the watch, I think they view it as a threat. I'm not trying to pigeonhole every critic, nor am I trying to stir the pot. But it seems to me that the majority of the people who have been critical of the watch since it was announced are quick to say that a Seiko 5, Orient, or chinese movement is a better product. I think that many of these people are anti-Swiss, or at the very least anti Swatch Group. I think there is some comfort in believing their inexpensive watch is better than a more expensive Swiss mechanical. The Sistem51 hurts this way of thinking. It is accurate, innovative, and becomes a direct competitor in the super-affordable bracket. It is a threat to the watches that they champion as the best value in affordable automatics.

Again, this is just my opinion, and I'm not speaking off anyone in particular. Quite an ironic anecdote, I bought a Sistem51 when they first were for sale in NYC. I barely wore it and sold it after a few months. I didn't enjoy the weight of plastic, or the noise of the rotor. At the same time, to dismiss the horological innovations is silly. Very awesome technology, just not for me.
 
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I think it's very pro-Swiss to give a $150 plastic watch any respect at all. I highly doubt anyone would pay any attention to a plastic Seiko or Orient.

I honestly didn't have any bias going into the Swatch store (I own an Omega and Orients) but the sistem51 felt like a $20 watch in my hand. If they take that movement and put it in some good cases and sell them for $150, that might shake things up.
 

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Just as a reminder, Swatch sells other automatics in steel cases (and a number of their quartzes, too).

But, would the new movement be as "Swatch-y" in yet another steel case?

I think that's the point that Swatch is trying to make. They've got plenty of other plastic-cased watches, and that's what they've been known for doing over the last thirty years. Why not epitomize the Swatch brand image with a new technology showcased in the middle of their price range?

And Seiko/Orient versus Swatch? I don't think Swatch cares.
 

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If $175 represents less than 1% of your annual incomes (after taxes), pull the trigger |>
 

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Tell the owner of a orange monster ($175 on amazon) that his watch is disposable and you will get a dirty look
I own a Black Monster. Read my sig. I told it to myself, and I did not give myself a dirty look. Whew! I doubt that I will ever have it serviced, when it's really so easy to replace. Maybe I will, but I am not sure doing so exercises good sense. I like maintaining nice things to keep them nice--that's part of owning nice things--but I'm not sure any of these watches fall into that category. I already own a Poljot Sturmanskie that needs service but I just can't bring myself to pay what it would cost, so for now it sits in a drawer. Sure, somebody may own the Monster after me, and maybe it will be sentimental for them such that they will want to maintain it. The Swatch may be sentimental for the kid who got it for his 10th birthday, but I predict it will suffer the same fate as the cheap Timex I got for my 10th birthday (that was nevertheless no any cheaper, in real dollars, than the Swatch is today)--by the time it stops working from lack of service, the kid will be an adult and the watch will be a scratched-up mess. But, again, the OP is not ten years old, so it's a moot point.

And you completely missed the point of my Geneva story. Dinner in Geneva is expensive, no matter what you eat. I am not rich, but we were there, on vacation, and it was dinner time. We don't remember what we had that night. It was a decent meal, but we don't sit around rhapsodizing about that meal when reminiscing about that vacation. (The meal we had later in Neuchatel, which cost more, does evoke those memories, as did the pizza we ate for far less in Interlaken while discussing whether to buy the Ebel.) But we laugh when I wear the Swatch, and it brings all the memories of that trip back. That's what makes it a good souvenir. People on vacation routinely pay much more to get much less.

But the notion that this watch is a throwaway after five years is also just plain ignoring what I said earlier. Your assumption of five years flies in the face of experience with even cheap low-jeweled pin-lever watches that would run fine for far longer than that without service (though risk being unrepairable when they finally stop). I said that this watch will likely run 10 or 15 years before the owner will notice any loss of function at all. Now, let's see---ten dollars a year for a fun watch that makes a statement utterly unlike one's "nice" watches. If one rarely wears it--just on those days when one wants to make the statement it makes--it might last half a century. I have high confidence that if I put mine back in its box and stuck it in a drawer for 50 years, it would work fine when I pulled it out. This is not the watch I would keep on a winder or buy as an heirloom, but that doesn't mean it's only fit for the trash can after five years.

If the impecunious among us can't spend more than that, and want a nice watch (versus a fun watch), then by all means the Seiko is for them. Those are not the people who will buy the Sistem 51 in any case. The OP of this thread is not in that category, of course. So, poverty is not driving him to consider a Sistem 51, and he might well already own an inexpensive Seiko as many of us do. Thus, I would not expect him to be persuaded by the Swatch being a good deal. You will never see me suggest a Swatch because it's a good deal. That is not the reason to buy it. (That does not mean I think it is a bad deal.)

Just to indicate how bored I am, I drew up the picture below:

Line Text Slope Parallel Diagram

The chart shows a couple of different service histories. The black line is a continuously used watch that is never serviced. It dies in 15 years--there is so much wear that it is not worth servicing (or it can't be serviced).

The blue line shows an intermittently used watch. Because it sits idle much of the time, the wear rate is much slower than a watch that is continuously used.

And the green line shows a watch that is serviced routinely before wear reaches the point where it requires expensive repair.

If one stays below the bottom red line, the watch will never require an expensive repair. But the watch doesn't stop working until the top red line.

There are flaws in the diagram. One is that the curve is probably not straight--it probably starts out flat and steepens over time, or steepens as oil dries and dirt appears. Another is that "wear" is probably not the correct vertical dimension--it's probably closer to "risk of permanent damage requiring replacement parts rather than just cleaning and oiling." But as it is it illustrates my point.

One wants to keep a fine watch on the green trajectory--serviced routinely enough to never need parts replacement (other than the usual stuff that is routinely replaced such as the mainspring).

I submit that most adults who buy a Sistem 51 will follow the blue line. That is also true for vintage watches and frankly it's also true for most watches owned by WISes with large collections, unless they sit on a winder. Used only occasionally, the watch's owner might well die before the watch does.

But I doubt that most Seiko Monster owners will follow the green line. I certainly won't. But I will follow that line with my expensive watches, unless service becomes so expensive that I put them in a drawer instead.

Nobody would suggest that anyone follow the black line. If a person wants a reliable daily-wear watch that will last for decades, the Sistem 51 isn't it. But I doubt it would be a daily-wear watch for any adult, and kids will be adults in time to preserve it for a long time.

I know people who own watches--even cheap watches--from the 60's and 70's that have never been serviced, and they still run. So my numbers may be low.

Rick "whose Swatch is not 'personal or sentimental', beyond being a souvenir" Denney
 

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You wrote a lot about Swatch in your post. Like I said in an earlier post, I agree with almost everything you're saying, and that includes the Swatch stuff, so I'm cutting it from the quote.

What I'm saying is that Seiko likely designs their watches to look nice, not to "give the impression" (your words) that they cost more than they actually do. And most people who buy those Seikos buy them because they look nice, again, not to "give the impression" that they're nice watches.

It has been possible to make shiny metal things in a cost effective way for many, many decades. I think by now everybody knows you can go to a drug store and pay $20 to get a watch that's just as shiny as any other watch. So if everybody knows this, then the people buying shiny watches must do it simply because they like how they look, and not because it "gives an impression" other than they think it goes with their fashion sense.
You are fighting me too hard on this point. Is the game worth the candle?

Rick "not going to fight over the semantics of giving impressions and the motives behind them" Denney
 

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Discussion Starter · #56 ·
If $175 represents less than 1% of your annual incomes (after taxes), pull the trigger |>
For those of you who might be curious, I came close to purchasing the watch but ultimately decided I couldn't pull the trigger.

In the pro column, it would have made a fun and fairly novel souvenir and would have been an interesting/unique addition to my collection (both technologically and in terms of fashion).

In the con column, I felt it to be somewhat overpriced for what it was and I thought they dials were all pretty illegible, which means (to me) that I wouldn't want to wear it very much.

So ultimately it would have been a pricey lump of plastic that I sort of resented because I bought it and wasn't more excited to wear it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #57 ·
You are fighting me too hard on this point. Is the game worth the candle?

Rick "not going to fight over the semantics of giving impressions and the motives behind them" Denney
It might be a trivial, stupid question of semantics to you but it's a pretty personal thing to me.

My daily wearer and basically my favorite watch is an Orient Ray, which for the purposes of this conversation might as well be a Seiko 5.

So when you talk about the motives of Seiko 5 customers, you might as well be talking about me. And when you say I purchased my Ray because I "wanted to give the impression that I have a nice watch" then I'm going to take some offense. Because that comment makes me sound like a superficial poseur, who purchases things only because of how they're perceived by others. (And there's also an implication that my favorite watch isn't nice, although I admit that I might be misreading your tone with that one.)

In fact, I bought the watch because I think it looks great, I like Orient, and I expected a high-quality timepiece from Orient (which it is). I did not spend longer than 5 seconds thinking about what impression the watch would give other people, and in those 5 seconds I more or less thought "I hope people don't get the impression that I tried to buy a fake Rolex." Which is the opposite of what you posited.
 

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It might be a trivial, stupid question of semantics to you but it's a pretty personal thing to me.
As I said, I think that many owners of affordables, including Seikos, are too easily offended. Nearly everyone buys a watch as a matter of personal expression, and nearly everyone wants to wear a nice watch, at least most of the time. Owners of inexpensive watches have as much to express as anyone else, and they also seek out watches that will express quality at whatever price point. And everyone at all price points wants their watches to express more value than what they paid. Who wouldn't? I know I do. There is nothing about this that should be interpreted as insulting in any way.

When you said you expected a high-quality timepiece, you were expressing that to yourself. That counts, too. Had it looked cheap to you, you would have been disappointed, because you would notice a watch that didn't measure up to your expectations every time you looked down. The buyer of a Patek Philippe who had spent $40,000 might feel exactly the same way if his expectations were violated.

But the Swatch is really for people who, at least that day or for that occasion, specifically do not want to express quality in that way, but rather have something else they want to express.

There are poseurs at all price points and who buy all types of watches. A poseur is not trying to show more quality than what they paid for, they are trying to demonstrate a higher social class than the one they actually inhabit (or, even worse, they are trying to demonstrate their opposition to wealth by living down to "regular" people--mostly only wealthy people do this). Those are motives, and they are not at all what I'm talking about.

By the way, I think your reasons for passing on the Swatch are completely valid and reflect a balanced view.

Rick "who was not talking about the motives of Seiko 5 owners, but rather the reasons one who is interested in a Seiko 5 would never be interested in a Swatch, at least for the same purpose, and vice versa" Denney
 
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Discussion Starter · #59 ·
... And everyone at all price points wants their watches to express more value than what they paid. Who wouldn't? I know I do. ...
Interesting assumption and possibly a distillation of what's been bothering me. Because, no, I don't want my watch to "express value."
 

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Interesting assumption and possibly a distillation of what's been bothering me. Because, no, I don't want my watch to "express value."
I think Rdenney was simply saying that buyers at all price points tend to gravitate towards watches that have a compelling value proposition at their respective price point.

This might mean getting a watch with a sapphire crystal at a price where most other watches are equipped with a mineral glass crystal, it might mean getting a watch with a mechanical movement when most other watches at that price have quartz movements, it might mean getting an exclusive, in-house movement at a price where most other watches have an ETA movement.

The "expressing" doesn't necessarily mean impressing other people. I don't really see how it is controversial to state that we typically wish to get a quality productive for the price that we pay, and that this is generally independent of the price point we are shopping at. Indeed, isn't the main criticism of the Sistem51 that it offers a poor value proposition if one is in the market for a sensible everyday watch? At the same time, isn't the main attraction of an Orient or a Seiko 5 that they offer an excellent value product for the price?

What most people seem to be missing is that the entire raison d'être for Swatches is that they're intentionally quirky, and are typically loud statements of fashion or mood, and generally designed to be part of a large collection of occasion or mood specific watches.
 
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