Swatch recently released it new Big Classic line of gents’ watches and I’ve had the pleasure of wearing one for the last week or so. Seven timepieces make up the Swatch Big Classic collection – four on straps and three on bracelets (one is two-tone). Mine was the Trueville, which comes with a black dial and bezel, cased in stainless steel and mounted on a deep dark chocolate brown strap. Others in the collection feature white, silver, or “petrol” blue dials and complimentary straps or bracelets.
For you shade-tree watch mechanics, the 41mm stainless steel case is a front loader. There is no removable case back. Access, if service were to be required, would be by removal of the bezel, crystal, and probably a few other unseen case parts – gaskets, o-rings, circlips or other retaining rings (I don’t know, I didn’t try it), along with dislocating the joint of a two part stem. Sounds nasty. Caveat emptor.
However, this being a quartz watch, there is an owner-friendly, open-with-a-coin battery hatch on the back. The battery is the popular 377/ SR626SW which can be found in numerous retail outlets. This saves the owner from paying the mark-up and labor charges for battery changes at the local jeweler.
The case is ostensibly round, but with extended, semi-hooded lugs flowing from the case, it almost gives the appearance of being tonneau shaped. Swatch’s trademark quadruple lug design is present, of course, making the watch instantly recognizable as a product of the brand. All edges front and back are nicely rounded. This smoothes the watch and leaves nothing to catch on a shirt sleeve – or anything else, for that matter.
The plastic crystal is domed as well, adding to the Trueville’s overall smooth, flowing contours.
The overall design treatment gives the watch a refined, understated look. The narrow black enameled non-rotating bezel is accentuated with raised hour tick marks alternating with minutes beginning with 05 and continuing to 55.
Water resistance is not marked on the watch, but is listed on the website at three bar/ 30 meters/ 100 feet. The crown is not screw-down (interestingly, it’s not signed either). So the bottom line here – especially since the watch is on a leather strap – is don’t get it wet, beyond getting caught in the rain or a splash from the sink.
The black dial of the Trueville is signed with a simple ‘swatch,’ with ‘swiss’ beneath, all lower case (in Swatch’s standard font). It’s definitely an easy reader. White hands ensure that, but the lume could be stronger. The thin, elongated hour markers are labeled 1 through 12 on the inner end and 05 through 60 at the dial’s edge. The round date window is circled in white to alert the eye to its presence. It falls at six o’clock, something more and more watch stylists are opting for these days. It’s an appealing feature which adds to the symmetry of the dial.
No information was available on the quartz movement other than the ETA logo stamped on the back. This being Swatch, of course it houses an ETA calibre. It’s fairly accurate, gaining about a second a day for the week I’ve been wearing the watch.
Strap and Wearability
The strap is dark brown. In fact, so dark, I wore the watch for two days before the light caught it just right and I realized it was brown and not black. The strap is notched and dovetails perfectly with Swatch’s four-lug design. The edges are flared and flow nicely into the sides of the case.
The lug set-up could be a minor downside to those who like to customize the look of their watches with custom straps. This is a small quibble though, because any competent strap maker can easily notch their straps to accommodate the extra lugs. That said, the watch is not going to work with a NATO strap.
The padded faux crocodile, (presumably) calfskin strap is nicely done. I was surprised to see a strap of such quality in a watch at this modest price point ($125). The signed butterfly clasp is easy to operate and the latching mechanism seems sure and solid. The contrasting white stitching gives the whole affair a hand-stitched look, although close inspection shows it was done on a machine.
So with all that, how does the Trueville actually wear when it’s on the wrist? “Nicely” is too short an answer, but it’s quite accurate. “Unobtrusively” works too. New straps always take a while to mold to the wrist. But short of a full break-in period, the watch sat comfortably on my slightly oversized wrist. When the strap is fully broken in, the watch is light enough that it will sit properly, with no real tendency to rotate. At 11.7mm thick, the case isn’t super thin, but the smooth contours and domed plastic crystal which flows into the bezel with barely a step all fit under my shirt cuff with no fuss.
As mentioned above, comfort and readability on the wrist are great. It takes just a quick glance to know the time. That’s the beauty of black dials and white hands. Even though the strap is deep chocolate brown, the watch will pair with most anything, as the strap will pass for black in many instances.
The bottom line? At $125, the Big Classic Trueville is a good looking and performing watch. It’ll pair nicely with jeans and a sport shirt or the ubiquitous but undefinable business casual. And the only thing that will make you think twice before strapping it on with your navy blue suit is the sporty enumerated bezel. But even that’s understated. You’ll be making a personal statement about your unique style, not one that says you’re a fashion Neanderthal.
You might have guessed, with dozens of new releases each year – all modestly priced, and the brand going back nearly 31 years, there are a lot of Swatch collectors out there. Enter Swatch Club. Basic membership is free, with a premium membership available to those who purchase the annual limited edition Club Watch. This year’s is the “White Loop,” priced at $100. Benefits include a newsletter, access to club events, exclusive treatment in Swatch stores, access to limited edition watches, and more.
written and photographed by Ed Estlow