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Timepieces and Underground Cultures - Swatch

Despite many youth cultures and specifically those rooted in underground scenes having their idiosyncratic “uniform”, there are very few branded accessories that have become an integral part of one’s get up.

Where within the confines of punk one spent hours damaging clothes to ensure it looked as far away from mainstream conventions, the emerging straight edge scene in the late 1980s pivoted to a clean cut youth crew look, think Champion hoodies, varsity jackets, sneakers and shorts (check Youth of Today / Chain of Strength record inlays for picture book depictions of the athletic jock style), which complemented their abstinence from drugs and other vices. With the X having become the trademark of the moment – originally to signify underaged in a bid to cut them off from imbibing at bars – it became ubiquitous specifically marked on the back on the straight edgers’ by utilizing a sharpie.

Switch to the picturesque environment of Switzerland, the mother country of watchmaking, where a new brand defied the norms and conventions with edgy new styles, revolutionising a scene that was dominated by quartz watches. With the name being a telling one and a play on its nature, “Swatch”, derived from “second watch”, was there to mix things up both in terms of affordability as well as diversity.

What followed was a wide array of Swatch collections with loud- and boldness quickly becoming defining characteristics. In 1987 the X-Rated Swatch was released, which compared to other watched had a muted, bare bones, unassuming design with the most prominent feature being a large X.

Needless to say, the watch became immensely popular with the straight movement eventually an essential to demonstrate a sense of belonging and a further departure from the debauched way punks dressed, with timepieces not exactly being an essential in the world of a distinguished hardcore punk.

Once Swatch discontinued its X-Rated range and long before Hypebeast culture, an original one became the holy grail amongst those nailed to the X and found its way into record trading and want lists, scoring inflating prices on the secondary market.

After years of knockoffs flooding the market, Swatch finally reissued the X-Rated in Spring of 2018 and it became an instant hit again as new faithfuls were given the opportunity to partake in one the traditions of their movements and feel a tad more connected to the core.

Swatch has continuously evolved in all kinds of artistic directions since, with quite a few throwbacks and nots to both classic and retro styles.

A current standout is their BIG BOLD collection, comprised of six different watch models heavily infused with an irreverent, urban streetwear flavour and the name of the collection being a telling one as the respective watches are statement pieces with slightly curved watchcases spanning forty-seven millimetres in diameter to give the superluminova shaped arrow hand ample space to rotate.

Never not paying attention to detail, contrasting 3D prints correspond on both the dial as well as the strap with the subtly toned background accentuating the contemporary designs, which make the BIG BOLD collection another strong one in Swatch’s endeavour to wave the flag for analogue watches in a digital world.


image courtesy of Swatch

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