From Melbourne to Hong Kong to Amsterdam, thousands of shoppers queued for one of the new timepieces, a collaboration between Swiss watchmaker Swatch Group AG’s luxury Omega brand and its entry-level Swatch marque. Called the MoonSwatch, the timepieces resemble the iconic Speedmaster Professional, known as the ‘Moon Watch’ because it was worn by U.S. astronauts.
The collaboration represents a unique strategy by Swatch Group as it attempts to drive new interest in its watches by offering a taste of luxury at a budget price. The firm is hoping to reverse a recent trend that has seen Swiss watch exports of high-priced timepieces rebound sharply from a pandemic-driven plunge, while watches priced below 500 francs are struggling to gain ground.
Original Omega Speedmaster Professional prices start at about 6,300 Swiss francs ($6,769.4), though the new Omega MoonSwatch costs 250 francs. Instead of metal cases and mechanical movements they are made of ceramic and plastic with a battery-powered quartz movement.
In Geneva on Saturday, hundreds of people snaked around the block in a line on Rue du Marche at the flagship Swatch store. The crowds prompted a significant police presence and at least one person was arrested.
Scores of shoppers began lining up in the early hours before the store opened at 10 am. By noon, a company representative told people in line that the store would soon run out of stock and that they should come back next week after stores have been restocked.
A central London store had to close amid chaotic scenes when crowds tried to get inside, the Press Association reported.
Swatch has said the Omega and Swatch collaboration watches are not limited editions and will continue to be produced.