Few objects represent the ‘80s as perfectly as the Swatch watch. Designed to save the stuffy Swiss watch industry from extinction, the disposable watches are everything that’s brilliant about design in the decade; brightly-coloured, light-hearted and served with serious geek appeal.
In 2015, the two designers behind Swatch, Marlyse Schmid and Bernard Muller, sold a collection of more than 4000 carefully-preserved Swatch artefacts from the brand’s early days for $1.3m at Sotheby’s of Geneva. In 1981, they were assigned the task of making Swiss quality watches accessible to a new generation. Together they created some of the raddest timekeepers ever to grace our wrists. These are our five all-time favourites.
1. The Jellyfish
Originally released as a special edition batch of only 200 watches, the Jellyfish was a revelation in transparent rubber and glass. If you had one of these, you were a time lord.
2. The 12 Flags
Part of the Skipper series that came out in 1984, the 12 flags watch features a flag watch face design that spells out SWATCH QUARTZ in nautical language. Awesome.
3. The Keith Haring Collection
Swatch was famous for its collaborations with artists, and this collection became their most iconic. Keith Haring took two years to create these six watches, which were released in 1986. They were super affordable in the ‘80s, but now sell for thousands on Ebay. If we could only turn back time.
4. Kiki Picasso Edition
The first of Swatch’s artist editions was with Kiki Picasso, the alter ego of the French painter Christian Chapiron. His surrealist designs, teamed up with the brightly coloured watch straps, couldn’t have been more ‘80s if he’d stuck David Hasselhoff in a pair of dungarees on the front.
5. Gold Edition
Swatch got a bit luxe on this one in 1986, replacing the inexpensive face with pure gold. The result: more ‘80s swag than BA Baracus at a roller disco.
Dig out your 80s photos
Do you have old photos of the 1980s lying around somewhere? Maybe some of you wearing a limited edition Swatch? Get in touch or browse our scanning services and we can digitise your photos so you can show off your old school style to your mates.