Soul Sistem

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Swatch is fun and funky, but its mechanical Sistem51 could herald a new era of revolution for the Swiss watchmaking industry.

Although a GMT function is welcome when we’re traipsing around the world, the truth is we very often travel with a ‘humble’ Swatch, the Sistem White ref. SUTW400. I can already imagine the lip-curls from the brand-snobs and less-informed, since it is mostly the true aficionados who will appreciate the significance behind Swatch’s revolutionary Sistem51 collection.

By the time you read this, Swatch will be gearing up to launch the Sistem51 range in Singapore towards the end of July (at time of writing, the venue was said to be Orchard Gateway; we’re apparently the seventh market to launch it, which should explain why no one’s seen it at the stores here yet). In case you’re wondering, no, this isn’t a prototype, but a personal piece procured for the author from Zurich earlier this year, which incidentally was how a lot of fans around the world got theirs, since the range was only available in selected stores in Switzerland for the longest time. We chose the white because it’s light and a cheerful enough a companion on short jaunts overseas – the silicone strap proved a comfortable choice in hot climates too. Besides, with world times readily available on phones these days, the GMT feature isn’t as essential as it used to be.

‘51’ is the magic number because this is the same number of parts in Swatch’s quartz movement from 1983, which then ignited the Swiss watch revolution that arguably saved the industry. Like the quartz original, the Sistem51 initiates a new assembly line concept for its 100 per cent Swiss made movement, where the key features include a single central screw and transparent oscillating weight. Despite the different face designs, you’ll note that there are six common ‘dots’ on all the models that meant to correspond with the positions of the rubies in the 3Hz (21,600vph) movement.

[Read more about Sistem 51 in issue 28 of TopGear Singapore. For more details, visit]

David Khoo
Author: David Khoo
David is a big petrolhead who has been dabbling in the car trade since 2001 and currently oversees Top Gear Singapore. His stories often take an eclectic slant from the predictable, and he's able to craft a compelling read that lets you see the cars (often old!) in a new light.