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Swatch wants its watches to be perceived as hip, trendy and affordable. And they are—to some people. But we’re firmly in the realm of fashion here, and that means there’s no objective standard for judging if a watch is stylish or not stylish. Opinions are somewhat split, but since Swatch has become the most successful wristwatch of all time (according to the Swatch website), it’s hard to argue that its designers don’t have a good understanding of how to design a cool watch.

About Swatch

Swatch is a brand name for a line of wrist watches from the Swatch Group, a Swiss conglomerate. Swatch watches were introduced in 1985. The Swatch Group, the parent company, is the largest watch company in the world, owning many famous watch brands, including Breguet, Omega, Rado, Longines, Tissot and Hamilton.

The name Swatch is a contraction of “Second Watch,” reflecting the new concept of watches as casual, fun, and relatively disposable accessories.

Positive Themes


Consumers find that Swatch watches have “great quality,” meaning they find them “cool,” “timeless,” (an odd compliment for a timepiece) and “durable.”

  • just got my swatch watch i ordered i ebay i love it for all of you that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s you know how cool these watches were. (source)
  • The Swatch I got from the previous deal has an admirable basic quality to its build that you can see in the details once you have the actual article in your hand. Knock-offs have no reputation to protect. (source)
  • I have several Swatches for casual events and some for formal ones. Luis: Its versatility; its look. Like right now, I’m wearing my Swatch with a blazer. But earlier today, I was wearing a simple V-neck shirt and my Swatch watch still matched it. With Swatch(es), I can wear anything and everything. (source)

For many people, Swatch watches “bring back memories.”

  • Just thought about how much I love and miss my Swatch Watch even though I hated the 80s. (source)
  • Oh my goodness how I loved those Swatch Watches back in the 80’s. And, I was only a teeny bopper back then. They still look really cool to me and the awesome thing about it all is that some of them are actually affordable now. Not that I will be running off to buy any …but it’s. (source)

They’re also a “great gift.”

  • Received my final birthday present today!!! I love my gorgeous swatch watch. Thanks hunni xxx. (source)

A Swatch watch is also “versatile.”

  • I want an old school Swatch watch. The one that you can mix match the bands and the center piece so that it matches all my fits. (source)

Negative Themes


“Poor customer service” is the biggest negative theme, with “repair issues” being the thing consumers find fault with most often.

  • Finally, my experience with the Swatch Group service center in NJ, which services all pieces from the group I believe, is not good at all – they returned one of my watches in worse condition that when I sent it to them!! Bottom line, check one out in person and read as much as you can on line before taking the plunge. (source)
  • I like its simple design. The only problem I have today, associated with this brand, is that it cannot be cleaned because of its lack of “screws.”  Although the battery is still new, my Swatch fails to give me correct time, sometimes. Cleaning it was a suggestion of the watch repair guy. But because there are no screws, he cannot open it to clean the internal part of the watch. (source)
  • I then acquired an Electric Blue. n n I had a lot of problems with SWATCH/OMEGA service regarding my PO [Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean]. What was meant to be a simple cosmetic warranty repair turned into a nightmare because SWATCH somehow damaged the movement in my PO. The watch is now back in repair a third time. n nI decided to acquire another watch and even before the SWATCH troubles I’ve always wanted to branch out into Rolex or IWC. (source)

“Great quality” was a positive theme, but “poor quality” is also a big negative theme.

  • Plastic case and stainless steel bracelet ? Scratch mineral resistant.  I never thought I’d buy a Swatch because their watches always seemed to be too funky for my taste. Bright colored plastic, designed to look cheap and disposable, but with fairly hefty prices for a throw-away. I liked my strictly-business dive and military-style watches that could take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. (source)
  • Swatch is not a very good watch. Two of my Swatch broke!!!!! I will but Swatch no more!!!!! (source)

Some consumers also find the watches have “undesirable features,” which mostly means they don’t like the look.

  • Most are over the $50 range, some over $100. I remember back in the day the magical number was $30, but I didn’t expect that to stay the same.  I think Swatch lost its charm when most of the designs started looking like, well, regular dime a dozen watches. You used to be able to tell a Swatch 10 feet away. Now, like everything else, the designs seem to look more ordinary than extraordinary. (source)
  • @yumikomasda @TaniaxTnu in my opinion, swatch is super ugly and a not-worth-buying watch. Not about the price but the look. (source)

Insights

Style is infinitely debatable, but quality is more objective. Swatch watches are meant to be inexpensive, semi-disposable fashion accessories, so they need to have a certain level of quality, but expecting them to have the build quality or durability of a Rolex isn’t fair. Most consumers understand that—that’s why “great quality” is the biggest positive theme. Complaints about quality apparently arise when owners send their watches to be repaired; they don’t like the service or the results. It’s important to note, though, that many of the negative posts about repair work aren’t about Swatch watches but about the Swatch repair center, which also repairs much more expensive watch brands owned by Swatch, such as Breguet and Omega.

So are Swatch watches a good value? Again, hard to say—some people find them expensive for the quality, others think the fashion statement they make justifies the price. (Just to be clear about price: Swatch watches in the “Casual” collection range from $60 to $195. Some consumers think that’s expensive, others don’t.)

Reading the posts about how Swatch watches “bring back memories” gives us an idea for a Swatch promotion. In their current promotions, they like to tie their watches to current pop stars, but lots of consumers associate Swatch watches with the good times they had back when they were teeny-boppers in the ‘80s and ‘90s. (And some of the sound bites are cute mini-stories:

“ohhh how I loved my swatch watch!!!! my freshman year I gave mine to a boyfriend to wear. Later that day I saw another girl wearing MY watch!” (source)

So Swatch: How about a nostalgia-based promo campaign to tap into those memories and get people to buy a special commemorative line of Swatches?

About Our Approach

This case study is a form of social media analysis called a netnography—a qualitative, interpretive research methodology that adapts the traditional, in-person ethnographic research techniques of anthropology to the study of online communities.

To write this netnography, NetBase analyzed thousands of posts from consumers about the brand. The posts are automatically sorted into Positive or Negative classifications by our natural language processing (NLP) engine, then we manually sample those posts.

To summarize a netnography as we’ve done here, we distill our findings into useful insights about how the brand we studied is positioned and perceived. We can provide our source data and confidence intervals for the percentages in the theme charts upon request.

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