Swatch x Omega Stirs Craze Around the World — Except in China

What Happened: Swatch has sparked a shopping frenzy with its latest collaboration. Over the weekend, the Swiss watchmaker teamed up with its luxury counterpart Omega to launch the Omega x Swatch Speedmaster MoonSwatch collection, featuring 11 timepieces that draw inspiration from different planetary bodies. According to the Swatch Group, which houses both brands, “The design partnership, a first for Omega and Swatch, follows the popular trend of collaborations between luxury and street brands to create innovative new products that blend the best of both worlds.”

Even though these watches are not limited edition, consumers certainly acted like it. Thousands of people flocked to their nearest Swatch store, with unrest unfolding in central London and Geneva. One buyer even stated that he waited outside for more than 22 hours to secure his purchase. Since their release, the celestial-themed pieces have been selling for more than 10 times their original value on eBay and other resale sites.

The Jing Take: It’s no surprise why this drop has caused chaos. For starters, the design is based on Omega’s iconic Moonwatch, which is known for being worn by Apollo 11 astronauts during the first moon landing — and thus a must-have for collectors. Although the playful colors in this collection signal that they are not the standard Monwatch, key design features are still present, from the asymmetrical case and distinctive subdials to the famous tachymeter scale.

The MoonSwatch collection makes the iconic Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch design accessible to fans everywhere. Photo: Swatch Group

Moreover, whereas many luxury tie-ups hike up prices, Swatch and Omega did the opposite. By lowering the price of this model from its usual $7,000 to a far more accessible $260, the brands opened the floodgates to more consumers; in fact, buyers can own the entire MoonSwatch collection for a fraction of the original Moonwatch. This low launch price, plus limited availability (the collection is only available at select physical locations), only added to the hype.

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What’s interesting, then, is how this release has differed in mainland China. In light of the pandemic, Swatch is keeping a closer grip on sales: those interested will need to apply to buy through the brand’s official WeChat channel, and those who are then selected will be limited to purchasing just one piece. Moreover, netizen reactions have been more mixed, with some stating that the collaboration looks “very plastic” and hurts their impression of the Omega brand. “You can buy it as a toy at a regular price, but don’t have to give scalpers money,” wrote one Weibo user.

Nevertheless, the MoonSwatch continues to generate good publicity. It may be one small (mis)step in China, but it’s one giant leap for the Swatch Group.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.


Hard Luxury, Marketing