Swatch’s latest collaboration with luxury diving watch brand Blancpain has sparked a tremendous surge in sales. The debut of the $400 plastic Fifty Fathoms watch, featuring an automatic Swatch movement, drew thousands of eager customers queuing at stores worldwide, from Sydney to Tokyo and major European cities.
This partnership brings to mind Swatch’s remarkable sales boost in 2022 when they introduced a quartz-driven, entry-level version of the Omega Speedmaster, known as the MoonSwatch. Swatch achieved sales of over a million MoonSwatches that year.
While the MoonSwatch launch caused a global shopping frenzy, leading to temporary closures of Swatch boutiques due to overwhelming demand, the latest release appeared to be better organized with enhanced security measures.
In Geneva, more than 300 people lined up, with the first enthusiasts arriving around noon the day before the launch. The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, which inspired this collaboration, was one of the first commercially available dive watches, making its debut in 1953 and once worn by the legendary Jacques Cousteau.
Strict security protocols were in place, allowing only two customers inside the store at a time when the Geneva store opened at 10 a.m. Each customer was limited to purchasing a single watch, choosing from the five colorful versions available. These watches are water-resistant up to 91 meters (300 feet).
In Paris, people began queuing on the Champs Elysees as early as 6 p.m. the day before to secure a spot among the first customers when the store opened at 10 a.m. The scorching heat did not deter dozens who continued waiting in line, determined to get their hands on these coveted timepieces.
One enthusiastic customer in Milan arrived at the store near Corso Vittorio Emanuele II at 11:30 p.m. the previous night, finding 30 to 40 people already waiting. He managed to purchase a beige- and orange-colored version for €390 with the intention of selling it, as he wasn’t interested in wearing it himself.
Almost immediately after the launch, these watches began appearing on watch trading websites, with prices ranging from €1,000 to €2,000.
Customers in Sydney camped out overnight, while long lines formed at a Swatch store in Tokyo. Reports from across Europe, including Cannes, Vienna, and Dubai, also mentioned long queues, and the initial supply in Zurich sold out by early afternoon.
Swatch Group AG, the owner of brands like Omega, Breguet, and Mido, hopes that this collaboration will not only boost Swatch’s sales but also elevate the Blancpain brand, which typically starts at around $10,000 per watch. After the MoonSwatch launch, Omega boutiques experienced a 50% increase in sales.
Blancpain ranks among the top 20 largest Swiss watch brands, with estimated sales of approximately 420 million Swiss francs ($470 million) in 2022, according to Morgan Stanley’s estimates.
Swatch has clarified that the Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms, like the MoonSwatch, is not a limited edition and will be available in selected Swatch boutiques rather than online.