It is no longer news that the sub-$500 price point for watches is as tough as it gets, with sales declining by double-digit percentages since peaking in 2014.
Fossil Group has reacted to this by investing in smart and connected solutions, having concluded that the challenge comes either from people using their mobile phones to tell the time, or from Apple Watch and its like grabbing share of wrists from traditional watchmakers.
Swatch, which virtually created the fashion watch category in the 1980s with its brightly colored plastic pieces, has gone another way with the creation of a an all-new mechanically-driven steel watch costing over £1000.
The collection, known as Flymagic, has a mechanical movement that shows how the watch works from the dial side rather than from underneath. It is not so much a skeletonized dial that shows parts of the inner workings, but a watch with its movement flipped face-up, exposing its balance wheel and gear train.
“This is high-end watchmaking with a revolutionary twist, and the first time such a reversal has been performed with a Swatch,” the company says.
Watch geeks may be most excited that the Flymagic uses a new paramagnetic Nivachron hairspring, which can also be seen through the automatic movement’s transparent rotor. It is made from a titanium alloy that is less affected by magnetic fields, and therefore keeps time better.
It is also more resistant to changes in temperature shocks.
Perhaps partly because the movement is upended, the watch has another unique quirk: its second hand runs backwards.
The Swatch Flymagic launches in three 45mm steel models, each limited to 500 pieces. They are sold on silicon or leather straps.