The MoonSwatch is almost certainly the most talked about and controversial watch release of the year. There are people in my life who are not into watches that are conversant in all things MoonSwatch, and by the same token, it’s the one watch that just about every hardcore enthusiast has an opinion on. For me, months after the watch’s release, I find that I have views on it that feel somewhat in opposition to one another. The MoonSwatch did something great for the community, but it led to something not nearly as desirable. And the watch itself? A mixed bag, in my opinion.
To state the obvious, I’ve never seen anything quite like the hysteria upon the release of the MoonSwatch. Maybe there are comparable drops in the sneaker world, or video games, or, I don’t know, Harry Potter novels, but the kind of line-around-the-block, up all night atmosphere outside Swatch stores all over the world is absolutely unprecedented in watches, and it sent a jolt through the industry that was needed and welcome. It’s a fundamentally good thing for our community when a new watch has such obvious crossover appeal. It creates new enthusiasts and builds a head of steam that will hopefully lead to more fun products and releases down the road, and it’s nice that it gives us all something to talk about, too.
But almost as quickly as SWATCH unfurled the MoonSwatch and so much goodwill upon us, things seemed to go south. Promised restocks came slowly, online sales didn’t come at all, and, worst of all in my opinion, we saw a vibrant and borderline predatory reseller’s market for MoonSwatches develop on the forums and popular second hand sources. I’m generally fine with the market dictating the price of a watch based on demand, even if that means a selling price that sits somewhere north of the MSRP, but it was disconcerting to see watches that are ostensibly mass produced out of plastic and meant to bring new people into the hobby selling for several multiples over retail. It’s a very different thing than a purely luxury object selling for more than its original retail price. It shut a lot of people out of the fun.
So, the culture around the MoonSwatch was mostly unfortunate for much of the year. But how about the watch itself? In my opinion, it’s exactly fine. While I almost certainly could have been cajoled into buying one for myself in the heat of the moment on launch weekend if they had been a little more available, having handled almost every variant of the MoonSwatch to this point, I can’t help but take a “That’s what all the full was about?” posture. While SWATCH likes to tout the Bio-Ceramic material used in the case, to me it just feels like run of the mill plastic, and reports of pushers breaking off and unfortunate dye transfer experiences from some users are a reminder that for around $300, you probably aren’t buying an heirloom. And that probably would be fine if these watches were readily available, but their continued “hype watch” status magnifies their shortcomings in a particularly unflattering light.