Omega and Swatch’s watch release draws comparisons to a ‘zombie movie’

Astrology-themed merchandise may be a hot commodity in the shopping market, but Omega and Swatch’s MoonSwatch collaboration has caused real retail chaos.

First launched last weekend, the 11-watch collection offered a fresh and affordable take on Omega’s iconic Speedmaster Moonwatch. Calamity ensued as thousands of shoppers around the world tried to get their hands on one – creating scenes typically seen only for streetwear or sneakers.

Omega’s original Moonwatch was built on the 4th generation Speedmaster style worn by Apollo 11 astronauts on the first moon landing. Its $7,000 tag is beyond many potential collectors, and enthusiasts were delighted to learn that a more affordable version would be made in conjunction with Swatch. A much more palatable price of $260 drew massive crowds to Swatch stores, many of which were overwhelmed by aggressive shoppers.

Omega x Swatch

Scramble for the MoonSwatch — Swatch was vague in its original communication surrounding the release, and some store employees said they only received inventory of 100 pieces. The company initially said an in-store drop would be limited to two watches per person, but a later announcement lowered the limit to one. The revelation that online sales would eventually follow also came late, and these factors combined to create an aura of exclusivity and eventual frenzy.

Some people were posted outside stores as early as 5:30 a.m. to secure their purchase, and many stores ran out of stock by 10 a.m. One shopper even flew from Vegas to LA and waited in line for 10 p.m., according to Hodinkee. Witnesses say most of the events started fairly calmly, but many ended up spiraling out of control with no line or organized system.

Police arrived to bring order to more than 1,000 people waiting to enter a store in Singapore, and watch lover compared the shoving and running herds of people to a “zombie movie”. The time of the straits reports one person passed out due to overcrowding and lack of organization of untrained staff blamed for shoppers’ aggressive behavior. Swatch’s London site was also forced to close just 30 minutes after opening due to health and safety concerns.

All that for a watch? — With a price tag under $300, it’s understandable why there’s been so much buzz surrounding the release. The new styles were inspired by Omega’s original and made with BioCeramic, a concoction of two-thirds ceramic and one-third organic plastic made from castor beans. The collection’s lovely planetary patterns, rare colors and affordable price have made it a must-have for watch lovers of different budgets, including and those who couldn’t have afforded an Omega in the past.

Swatch has made it clear that this is not a limited edition and that stock will be replenished across the board, but some retailers have listed their purchases at up to 10 times the retail price. As sneakerheads and streetwear fans alike know, brands that resort to “drop-style” releases run the risk of experiencing exactly that kind of frenzy as anticipation builds and tensions escalate.

For Swatch, the buzz will likely benefit the brand’s overall marketing and give the company a boost to freshen up its name among watch enthusiasts. But given Omega’s associations with luxury and a refined customer experience, the apocalyptic views of release day were probably not what the brand had in mind.

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