The plastic shopping bag was conceived in the 1960s by Swedish engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin and was designed to be durable — not for single-use. A thing of value to replace even more valuable paper bags, which required forests to fall. Maybe if we attached the same value to plastic today, we’d not be in such a mess. But at least we have some good, colourful news from the brand associated with high quality, fun, plastic watches that once saved the Swiss watch industry. Swatch has relaunched its original collection from 1983 as a contemporary interpretation of its iconic design — this time replacing all plastic with materials sourced from nature and innovative new technologies: a first in a series-production environment.
Swatch, a subsidiary of the Swatch Group (which owns luxury brands such as Blancpain, Breguet, and Omega) gets its name from the contraction of “second watch”, because those original timepieces were intended as casual, disposable accessories. But for many people, including me, a Swatch is one of their first watches and holds great sentimental value, which hopefully means fewer will end up on a dumpsite anyway.
With a new generation of consumer demanding more transparency from their favourite brands and a commitment to more positive social and environmental impact, Swatch is the latest to clean up its act in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals, or face losing environmentally conscious customers.
From the beginning, plastic has always been associated with the bright, playful aesthetic of Swatch. However, the new “1983” lineup reimagines plastic through a new material with the same look and feel, but entirely bio-sourced, mainly from the seeds of castor plants. From now on all packaging is also fully organic, biodegradable, home-compostable and can be recycled with paper products. Let’s hope this rapidly extends to the entire Swatch line-up.
As is to be expected, Swatch once again brings much-needed joy to our lives in a range of retro colours with watch names like NeuZeit, GoldenShijin, and SilverWakati referencing the words for “time” in different languages. There are also three “message” watches inspired by the “don’t be too late” Swatch from 1984, its very first message watch. The 1983 collection is powered by a quartz movement and starts at R1 170.
• Available in store or online at shop.swatch.com/en_za