Introducing the Swatch Sistem51 for Hodinkee Generation 1986, Dropping Later Today

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Hodinkee has unveiled their third collaboration with Swatch, a fun take on an unusual 80s design. If it wasn’t already, I think three years in a row officially makes the Hodinkee/Swatch collaboration a tradition, and just like that box of impossibly tangled Christmas lights, it’s here just in time for the holidays. Let’s take a closer look.


Swatch Sistem51 Hodinkee Generation 1986

  • Case Material: Plastic 
  • Dial: Black
  • Dimensions: 42 x 13.9mm 
  • Crystal: Plastic   
  • Crown: Push/pull    
  • Movement: Sistem 51 with Nivachron hairspring 
  • Strap/bracelet: Black silicone 
  • Price: $170
  • Reference Number: SUTZ406
  • Expected Release: Available today at 10am

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The Swatch Sistem51 Hodinkee Generation 1986 takes its inspiration from a somewhat obscure Swatch reference from the mid point in the decade known as the Emerald Diver. The original version featured an electric green case, a fixed 60-minute bezel, shovel hands, day-date display, and contrasting red and yellow hour markers. The original is, shall we say, not discreet in any way. The folks at Hodinkee and Swatch have done an admirable job of streamlining the design of Emerald Diver, retaining a lot of what made it unique and fun, but keeping the revised edition a little more subdued. You can wear this one to work on days that aren’t designated as “funny watch day.”

The first and most obvious change: gone is the green case. The Generation 1986 is basic black, with a black dial and a matching black integrated strap. The dial still pops though, with alternating red and yellow hour markers. The handset has also been changed, with the shovel hands replaced with modern, thin baton style hands. Also present is a general sense of geometric confusion (the best kind) with a dial featuring a mix circles and rectangles, with a triangle thrown in for good measure. 

As with prior Hodinkee-Swatch collaborations, this one features a Sistem51 as the base watch. The Sistem51 is a fairly revolutionary movement from Swatch, assembled entirely by machine, with just 51 components. The technical achievement here really can’t be understated, as Swatch has fully automated a process that for centuries involved, at some level, the touch of a human hand. Notably, this particular Sistem51 also features a Nivachron hairspring, a brand new component introduced by the Swatch Group earlier this year. This hairspring is made from titanium, and is resistant to magnetism and thought to be more shock resistant and durable than a traditional hairspring. It’s a truly significant upgrade, and in a watch that comes in under $200 is absolutely nothing to sneeze at.

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The Sistem51, being made by robots and machines, has sparted significant discussion and debate in the watch community. Any watch lovers concerned that this spells the end of real craft in watchmaking, however, need only look at the many interesting designs that have popped up in Sistem51s over the years – the human element is still very much present in these thoughtful, fun, watches, including the Generation 1986 from Hodinkee. And that’s to say nothing of the new technology that Swatch continues to invest in the Sistem51 platform, and spreads across their many other product lines, at all price points.

The Swatch Sistem51 Hodinkee Generation 1986 is available today at 10EST from the Hodinkee Shop, swatch.com, and the Swatch flagship store in NYC.

Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.
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