EXCLUSIVE: An inside view of the ETA high-tech Swatch Sistem51 production in Boncourt in the Swiss Jura


The Sistem51 is the first and only mechanical movement with fully automated assembly. The high-tech escapement has no index-assembly; the rate is set in Boncourt 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 calibre
Swatch Sistem51 calibre


The Swatch Sistem51 features 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 features an automatic (self-winding) mechanical movement made from a total of 51 components
The Swatch Sistem51 features an automatic (self-winding) mechanical movement made from a total of 51 components.


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

The Swatch Sistem51 90hours power reserve
Swatch Sistem51: 90 hours of 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 130 Euro



>>> The four Swatch Sistem51 available so far >>>



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  • Dear Alex…. as an avid reader of your page, I want to comment something regarding the wonderful product that is assembled in that high-tech factory. I have two (black and blue) and have been amazed by their sheer quality and performance…but…..I want to share with you (and Mr. Hayek, whom I know has you in high regard), that my sister in law’s husband Sistem51 just quit working of course without hitting it or any abuse of any kind…., we give it manual winding and wrist winding such as I do with mine ( or any other automatic watch), but does not work…I am in shock that a Sistem51 has a failure he is from spain, bought it in Madrid but it is staying here with us in Mexico for the holidays..What can we do? can we go to swatch store here in Mexico to make the warranty effective even though the watch was not bought here??..please help us solve this out of the ordinary problem…happy holidays.

  • I do like the Swatch 51 technical innovation, and I occasionally wear mine. I am quite happy with it, but the quality/price for a mechanical watch is not that unique. For a similar price you can buy from Japan automatic Seiko 5 series or Orients, watches that have only the typical 40 hour power reserve, but that can be regulated, repaired (not possible witht he Sistem 51 – its biggest disadvantage), and have metal cases.
    Still, I am eager to see Sistem 51 appearing in Irony cases !

  • Wow, thank you so much for the in depth view behind the Sistem 51 production. Seeing the pictures of the factory I can see why it took a good while to get the line up and running and why we had to wait after the announcement to get our hot ;little hands on one. If I don’t miss my guess, it looks like it is a clean room environment which adds considerably the the complexity of building the factory.

    Anyway, the Sistem 51 was well worth the wait. I can only speak for mine, but the on wrist wearing accuracy is far better than what is claimed in my experience.

    I just turned (shiver) 60 and have no problem wearing this plastic watch or any of the other colorful Swatch watches in my collection. It is fun just to kick back & relax and what better to do that than sporting a Swatch. I suppose I’m still young at heart.

  • Outstanding creativity as well as technology.

    Thank you for this fine article and pictures!

  • Hi Alex,
    Great feature, fantastic technology and have waited a while for the systim 51 to come to Ireland. Got my local swatch shop to ring when they arrived, and when they did was very excited going to see this watch and when got there was disappointed as could not see myself wearing this watch as am a middle aged man and they are plastic and thought it difficult to read the face of watch with the dots and lines on the face of the watches. I know they are basically giving the watch away. But cannot see the middle ages wearing plastic watches. Will now wait till they bring out another face with no dots and lines.

  • Your enthusiasm is loudly written! I take it you had a great time too.
    As you carefully point out this is an immense engineering achievement at every level.
    When we talked at the airshow I wondered if the forklifts on the loading dock are robots too? So are they?
    The sistem 51 a great watch for the price and it keeps time too.. much better than spec..

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