Swatch Sistem51 a Swiss made watchmaking revolution

Swatch Sistem51 Blue SUTS401

Swatch says: Our Sistem51 turns the world upside down; the front tells the time, the back tells the story

Thirty years ago Swatch introduced a simplified, Swiss made quartz wristwatch with only 51 parts. The world’s first plastic watch was made not by hand in the traditional Swiss manner, but on a fully automated assembly line. The small number of parts and automated assembly made quality Swiss watches accessible, for the first time, to millions of people.

Thirty years later, Swatch has done it again: sustained investment in research and development, innovative thinking, advanced engineering and simple creativity have turned the watch world on its head. The “lucky number” of Swatch – 51 – yesterday a point of arrival, today a point of departure!

The protagonist of the story this time is an automatic (self-winding) mechanical movement made from a total of 51 components. The components form five separate modules, which are welded into a single unit centered on a single screw. Conventional mechanical watch movements have at least twice as many components; some of the more complicated, high-end models have more than six hundred, assembled by hand over weeks or months by master watchmakers in their ateliers.

Swatch Sistem51 is the first and only mechanical movement with fully automated assembly. The high-tech escapement has no regulator; the rate is set at the factory with a laser, making the manual rate adjustments normally required by a mechanical watch unnecessary.

The movement, which features a 90-hour power reserve, is made of ARCAP, an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc with exceptional anti-magnetic qualities. All components are hermetically sealed within the case: no moisture, dust or foreign elements can interfere with performance, assuring a very long life and sustained accuracy over time (+/- 7 seconds per day).

Swatch Sistem51 Blue SUTS401
Swatch Sistem51 Blue SUTS401
Swatch Sistem51 Blue SUTS401
Swatch Sistem51 Blue SUTS401
Swatch Sistem51 Blue SUTS401
Swatch Sistem51 Blue SUTS401
Swatch Sistem51 Blue SUTS401
Swatch Sistem51 Blue SUTS401


The Swatch Sistem51 is transparent. A distinguishing feature of Swatch from the outset, transparency is built into Sistem51. Automatic movements are driven by an oscillating weight; the oscillating weight in Sistem51 is a transparent disc that rotates freely around the one central screw, offering fascinating views of the mechanics within. The oscillating weight and visible surfaces of the five movement modules are all printable, further enhancing the potential to add a creative soul to the back of this new watch, and of course to open new ways for collaborating, as the brand has done for thirty years, with contemporary artists to create exceptional art for the wrist.

This is very important to mention …

The Swatch Sistem51 was conceived, developed and built entirely and exclusively in Switzerland, and in less than two years. Undeniably disruptive of the status quo in the Swiss watch industry, it was made possible by significant continuous investment on the part of Swatch Group in research and development and in key companies in Swatch’s industrial environment. 100% Swiss made, Sistem51 is a provocation, an audacious challenge to invest, like Swatch, in the future of the Swiss watch industry. Sistem51 is the epitome and the ultimate celebration of Swiss Made as a state of mind, standing for absolute quality of innovation, a provocation on a continuing path of tradition and research.

The price was fixed at 150 Swiss Franc or 120 Euro.

For a fraction of the price of traditional luxury mechanical watches, a Sistem51 Swatch opens up the fascinating world of mechanical movements to millions who could not previously afford a Swiss made mechanical watch. It is a luxury, an accessible point of entry to high-end mechanical watchmaking – for everyone.

The technical specifications

A closer look at the technical aspects of Swatch Sistem51 reveals the audacity and reach of the innovative approach to watch design and construction that made it possible. One hundred percent of the movement components were newly conceived, engineered and built specifically for use in Sistem51; the company has applied for seventeen separate patents.

Swatch Sistem51 automatic movement
Swatch Sistem51 automatic movement
Swatch Sistem51 automatic movement
Swatch Sistem51 automatic movement


Model: Sistem51

Case: 42 mm

Components: 51

Modules: Plate with wheel train, gear train, hand fitting and date / Mechanical module / Escapement module / Automatic device module / Oscillating weight

Diameter: 30.00 mm

Height: 4.80 mm

Display: Hours, minutes, central seconds hand, date window

Functions: Automatic winding, 90 hour power reserve

Frequency:  21.600 A/h (= 3 Hz)

Rate precision: +/- 7 seconds/day; set by laser at the factory

Design: Printable surfaces, including oscillating weight and modules

Assembly: Under clean-room conditions on a fully automated, 20 meter long assembly line

Price: 150 Swiss Francs or 120 Euro


>>> Please do also discover the new Swatch with this video by clicking HERE <<<



Swatch Sistem51 White SUTW400
Swatch Sistem51 White SUTW400

Model: Sistem51 SUTW400

Dial: white with 6 red points, coloured dots and a date window at 3 o’clock

Case: white translucent plastic

Bezel: white plastic

Bracelet: white silicone



Swatch Sistem51 SUTB400 Black
Swatch Sistem51 Black SUTB400

Model: Sistem51 SUTB400

Dial: black with 6 red points, white printing with 12 white hour markers in Super-LumiNova and a date window at 3 o’clock

Case: black plastic

Bezel: black plastic with 12 white hour markers in Super-LumiNova

Bracelet: black leather



Swatch Sistem51 Red SUTR400
Swatch Sistem51 Red SUTR400

Model: Sistem51 SUTR400

Dial:  black with 6 red points, white printing with 12 white hour markers in Super-LumiNova and a date window at 3 o’clock

Case: translucent red plastic

Bezel: black plastic with 12 white hour markers in Super-LumiNova

Bracelet: black silicone with red stitching



Swatch Sistem51 Blue SUTS401
Swatch Sistem51 Blue SUTS401

Model: Sistem51 SUTS401

Dial: black with 6 red points, white printing with 12 white hour markers in Super-LumiNova and a date window at 3 o’clock

Case: translucent blue plastic

Bezel: black plastic with 12 white hour markers in Super-LumiNova

Bracelet: black silicone with blue stitching






More from Alexander Linz

Interview with Matthias Breschan, President Rado @ Baselworld 2015

Rado is the world leader in ceramic watches. But Rado does not stand still,...
Read More


  • 14 days ago i bought the swatch system 51 ( the black edition ) and i’im very pleased with this watch. i have several wrist watches ( seiko , orient, kienzle, and some vintage ones, but they all stayed in their boxes for the last 14 days. the swatch is very accurate and very light to wear on the wrist. its my first swatch ever and i wanted one because i’ve read so much about it on several watch reviews on internet.
    i”m very happy with it. Thank you Swatch.

  • after more than a year of looking where to get them (I´m living in Mexico city), I just picked up this week the black and blue ones at the Swatch New York Casino’s shop at Las Vegas….been waiting for them since they were presented at baselworld…..well worth the wait!!!!!!!!! thanks alex for keeping us posted with the watches information….

  • Bought two SISTEM51 in RED and BLUE from Swatch Store in Shibuya Tokyo (where I live) in July 2014. I am a fan of mechanical watches and own a Jaeger LeCoultre, several Longine, several Oris, several Rainer Brand (beautiful made German watches), an IWC, two Mühle (Glasshütte), Seiko (mechanical) etc. etc. I got interested in the SISTEM51 story and have used the RED watch almost every day since I bought it. It is very light on the wrist, and it is great for the sweaty, humid Tokyo summer days. The watch is possibly more accurate than many more expensive mechanical watches I own, and so far it has never stopped while I levee it on a table overnight, and even up to a couple of days. I am intrigued by the anti-status feel of the plastic, while still feeling content that I am wearing a true mechanical watch. I get a kick out of showing this watch to watch connoisseur friends. Great fun, and actually a very useable everyday watch.

  • I joined the launch, like Henk, last sunday in Geneve.
    The precision of the watch, at the moment (2 days after buying it…) is: +- 0 Sec./day. Not bad for a mechanical watch (smile).

    As I am informed, the first watches were hand-assembled for the launch, 30 years after first Swatch…because of production delay, mentioned by Henk below.

    It’s possible to stop the second dial, by turning back the crown a little bit, as it works for many machanical watches with-out an official second stop function.

    The date indication is unfortunately very small, too small.
    Also the design of the dial could be more exciting, but that’s my opinion and is easy to change -of course- in the future, especially by Swatch…

    The interesting point is the production- and product-technology: It will be available later also for other brands of the swatch group.

  • OK, first I have to say: I like these watches. Typical Swatch design and product philosophy and a large potential for variations in design. And yes, it seems that Swatch has invested heavily in engineering and production.

    But a few questions:

    Where is the big price step from the customers view if the “old” automatic models with a stainless steel case are available for 130€?

    Rate precision is +/- 7 sec/day. 14 seconds tolerance is not bad for a 120€ watch. But the risk to buy a watch with -7s/d with a hermetically sealed case and therewith without any chance to regulate it to a positive deviation sounds not really attractive (for me). Why have they decided to accept a minus deviation?

    And one last question, everybody highlights the “100% swiss made”, I thought that all Swatch products are made in Switzerland, wasn’t this the case for the old mechanical movement?

  • As impressive as it is, this will not change things much among the top players. The price of 10k, 20k, 30k EUR watch factors-in the fact watches come with mechanical movement, but that is not the primary draw – it’s the artistic finish, the complications, and sometimes the mechanical movement done in a way impossible to by machines (or cost prohibitive for mass production).

    • I completely agree.
      It might be a watchmaking revolution (as Alexander calls it). However, a plastic watch is a plastic watch is a plastic watch. It leaves me completely cold – absolutely zero “want-to-have-it” feeling.

      • I’d rather start with a or collect another cool mechanical Swatch then buying many other watches. Swatch was part of my watch collection and will always be part of it… You just can’t miss it!

  • Hi, I was in the shop in Lausanne today with the intention to buy one of these masterpieces of engeneering. Unfortunately, the watch is too big for my wrist. Hope that they will issue smaller ones in the future.

  • This watch is brilliant. I have always admired the Swiss because all they have had is their own brains and some scenery. They have built a solid and enduring economy using their own talents. I am personally not a fan of Swatch or the head of it but credit belongs where it is due.

  • oh,sofa,
    Hello,Alexander Linz,I’m a watch designer in china,happy to foud this site,I drawed a sketch,want to share with you and every body who offen come to there. what do you think?

  • Thanks for this very good update, this is indeed one of the most interesting horological developments in quite some time. Truly high end engineering resulting in an affordable quality piece. It is amazing that the movement offers 90 hours of power reserve!
    Until now, the most interesting entry level automatic watches were (in my opinion) offered by Seiko and Orient, and in essence they use an old workhorse movement. Sistem51 offers a highly tempting new angle. It will be especially cool to see it eventually being used in the Irony and Scuba series.
    Question, does the movement hack and wind?

      • Alex, I mean as follows: a movement that “hacks” is one where the second hand stops when you pull out the crown, for easy precise time adjustment. Entry level automatic movements like most Seiko 5 (except the new generation) usually do not hack. Strangely the expensive Zenith Espada doesn’t hack either! With “winds” I mean can you wind it. Again some entry level automatic movements like older Seiko 5 do not wind, you have to wear them to wind the spring.
        I have a Vostok Anchar with Miyota movement that I can wind but the second hand does not hack. I also have two cheap but rather nice Orients that don’t wind or hack. On the other hand, the classic ETA 2824 movement hacks and winds.
        Both functionalities are not that crucial, but pleasant if present.
        Hence curious to know!

  • Remarkable — a stunning achievement! While I am not a fan of plastic timepieces or straps, the Sistem 51 Red is just plain HOT!

  • Absolutely stunning. When is this coming to South East Asia? Believe this will create a revolution the same way it did, when the original Swatch came out in 1982. Hope this will shake up some the industry!! Well done Alex

    • It will shake up the industry, it will!! All those telling the stories that it is impossible to produce a good and fair priced mechanical movements will have to look for new arguments now. And there is no more reason to accept the poor quality of faked Swiss mechanical movements produced in China or elsewhere…

      • As I mentioned above, for good quality automatic movements at a good price, finally there is some interesting competition for Seiko and Orient – I regard the Japanese engineers as capable as the Swiss, and a bit of competition will be good for everyone !

        • Totally agree with both comments. Lets hope that the consumer will get products like Sistem 51 from other companies maybe even from Casio or Seiko. The more the better for us. But at this time nobody can beat the Swatch Group, they have a leading product in each price and product segment. Absolutely stunning well done Swatch Group!

Comments are closed.