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Retro Swatch Watches from the '80s and '90s

Updated on November 6, 2012

80s Swatches are Fantastic Plastic Machines

Interested in the retro Swatch watch? I'm sure all 80s kids remember those bright, colorful plastic watches that were everywhere during the decade. How about the Pop Swatch, who can forget those? They're called such because you can pop the main timepiece out and attach it anywhere you please -- your bag, your t-shirt, even your jeans.

May this page serve as a guide for other 80s revellers who are interested in how the Swatch phenomenon came to be and, at the same time, on the lookout for retro Swatch watches to either give as gifts or keep in a collection.

Photo from Swatch & Beyond

Below is a reprint of an eHow guide on How to Buy Swatch Watches, for your reference.

1 Determine what style you're looking for. Swatch carries men's, women's and unisex watches. They also have more expensive watches with linked bands, watches for divers and of course, the popular retro watches.

2 Check out the Swatch store online. Here you can find the latest collections and all their different styles. You can find everything from the cute and quirky to the stylish and refined.

3 Shop other Internet websites. There are several Internet sites that sell different brand-name watches, Swatch among them. Most are based in the UK and often list prices in the form of pounds. A Swatch retro style watch typically costs about $50. Other Swatch lines are more expensive.

4 Bid on eBay. You maybe able to find some of the older Swatch styles on eBay auctions. Swatches are becoming real collector's items and there's a demand for them.

5 Search around at local consignment shops, yard sales and such. Often, older Swatches turn up at bargain prices. Because of the quality craftsmanship, with a new battery, chances are the Swatch will tick again.

Source: EHow / Photo from Kaboodle

Relive the 80s, watch this retro Swatch ad.

Buy solid color Swatch Originals watches in bright hues

Colorful Swatch watches that are reminiscent of 80s Swatches

Another Swatch commercial from the '80s.

Swatch obviously did not plan on making it easy for collectors to acquire the complete collections. If you want the entire collection, you will have to face the complicated task of ordering it direct from Switzerland or search out every single Swatch outlet. Swatch provides each store with watches on its own prerogative without giving stores the opportunity to ask for certain styles. Also, Swatch produces only a certain number of each watch design, only 100-300 for the whole world, and this is why the price for some styles is ten to twenty times higher than their original price.

If you're not looking to buy an entire collection but would just like a few retro pieces thank you, you may refer to the following list of Swatch families.

Swatch Originals

The Originals are plastic cased watches. These are the first watches to come out in the '80s and are available in various sizes, shapes and designs. The originals have sub-families as well:

- Standard Collection (Standard Gents, Standard Ladies, Pop Swatch, Automatic Swatch)

- Chrono Watches

- Water Watches

- Ski/Access Watches

- Specials

Swatch Irony

In 1994 Swatch launched the first collection of stainless steel gent and medium size Ironies in the USA. This line has a more classic feel, as opposed to the trendy quality of the original plastic line.


Swatch Skin

The skin family contains two sub families: Original Skin and Skin Chronograph. The original skin was introduced on October 6, 1997 as a thinner version of the original Swatch Watch. It is ultra thin, standing at 3.9 mm thin hence the name Swatch Skin. The swatch skin later went on to enter the Guinness world book of records as the world's thinnest plastic watch. The Swatch Chronograph is the Swatch skin with a chronograph function. It has two additional buttons on the side of the watch.

Swatch Beat

The Beat family launched in 1998 and incorporated beat watches across the three existing families, adding twists and extra features. Swatch Beat is their digital line and integrates Internet Time.

If you're serious about building a Swatch collection though, these book guides will certainly help.

All photos are from Squiggly except main photo

The Swatch Watch was originally intended to re-capture entry level market share lost by Swiss manufacturers during the aggressive growth of Japanese companies such as Seiko in the 1960s and 1970s. Digital watches were also rising in popularity around the same time and analog watches were swiftly becoming a thing of yesteryear. The Swatch Group led by founder Nicolas G. Hayek then decided to launch the Swatch brand in1983, a line of slim plastic analog wristwatches that were both chic and affordable. Each colorful plastic watch was made up of only 51 components (as opposed to the usual 91 parts or more) so it combined top Swiss quality with a reasonable price. Since then it had gone on to become one of the most successful wristwatch brands of all time.

The peak of the Swatch's popularity was in the mid-1980s and it was not unusual to see celebrities sporting the wristwatch in movies, TV series, and fashion pictorials. Some '80s fads that stood out included wearing two Swatches or more on one arm at the same time and using a Swatch watch as a ponytail band. The Pop Swatch, a fun model that came out in 1986 allowed you to "pop" the timepiece out of the strap and attach it directly to your clothing. Around this same time, Swatch introduced the idea of pairing up with noted artists like Keith Haring, among others. Artist watches gave a new cache to what had previously been a trendy youth article.

For more information about purchasing 80s Swatch Watches, turn to the following official websites and dealers.

Sources: Wikipedia / Isnare/ Wikipedia / Swatch & Beyond

Can't get enough of the retro Swatch ads? Here are a few more.

I owned a couple of 80s Swatches myself, "Belvedere" & "Nafea", 1987 models pictured at right. I loved the graphics and I remember wearing them for years, up until the hinges for the straps broke off. Friends and I would exchange Swatch Watch straps and yes, we're guilty of linking them together and wearing them as bracelets or ponytail bands. (Don't give me that look, it was quite chic back then.) The colorful plastic watches sure caught attention and they perfectly complemented the outlandish fashion back in the decade.

Swatch watches are still in production and the new models have new features and are more durable than their earlier counterparts. However the allure of seeking out rare vintage Swatches is irresistible. It's a cliché I know but it's true, they no longer make them like they used to.

Do you have a Swatch watch from the 80s or 90s? Does it still work? Leave your thoughts on retro watches and this lens here.

What do you think of 80s Swatch watches? - Would you buy one again?

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    • profile image

      William 20 months ago

      I have been offered a vintage plastic swatch for my collection and i have searched high and low for this watch so i can find out more information so i can know how much i should offer the seller.its a clear plastic watch with a applemac apple on the face and the seller assures me that its a very rare limited edition example.can anyone help me out with any info so i can make sure i dont get ripped off paying over its value. Williambradwell74@gmail.com. thanks for anyone that can help me.

    • profile image

      Andy 2 years ago

      Lots of these for sale on Etsy. Vintage Swatch Watches.

    • profile image

      Mysti37 3 years ago

      One of my 80s Swatches, "flumotions" broke in the last month or so. It broke where the band fits onto the watch. Still was running, though. I gotinformation on where to have the watch made into an automatic conversion. I sent the Swatch off to Pennsylvania for its "rebirth". The minute hand was replaced with the white lightning bolt one the "technosphere" has, and the second hand is now a nice blue one. Now the Swatch is an Irony automatic with a metal case and band. The watch used for replacement is a 1992 Swatch Irony, 23 jewel movement, and itlooks awesome with the different hands, and the shiny metal watch case, and the "Flumotions" face. The second hand moves smooth, not the stepping motion of a regular Swatch. It is still all Swatch. To me, it combines 80s and 90s in a beautiful timepiece I will cherish forever. My other "Flumotions" is fine; it has never been worn, but the battery was removed.

    • profile image

      Mysti37 3 years ago

      I remember those Swatch commercials very well. I still have all of my 80s Swatches, except for my Technosphere. My ex destroyed it while going through our divorce. I did manage to save the green ring, hour and minute hands. I find a lot of the vintage/retro Swatches on Ebay, often for a great price. I don't care for the newer styles, though. They seem toned down, and not as imaginative or as fun as they used to be. Also, the guards aren't made any more. All the ones around today are from old stock, probably found forgotten in a warehouse somewhere. I think the retro fun designs should be re-manufactured, even if it is only for a limited time. That would boost their popularity. I'm sure. I will continue to wear my 80s Swatches ( I rotate them daily) proudly, for many more years to come.

    • profile image

      Mysti37 3 years ago

      @Milkcananime: Agreed. They aren't using their imagination like they used to. Sad.

    • profile image

      Mysti37 3 years ago

      Wanted to add: The Flumotions Swatch is in the picture above, under the heading "History of the Swatch Watch". It is in the group of 9 pics, lower right hand corner. I love this one so much that I bought 2; one has never been worn.

    • profile image

      Mysti37 3 years ago

      I agree with milkcananimae that the current Swatch watches are not as imaginative or as colorful as those of the 80s and early 90s. They ought to reissue such great watches such as Technosphere and Turquoise Bay. I have 8 80s Swatches in mint condition, and all run perfectly. My two favorites are "Flumotions" (have 2), and "Technosphere". I also have "Turquoise Bay". I do wear them every day to work, and when I go out on the weekends. I always get a lot of compliments on them. I also have lots of bands and guards for them, and switch them out often, for a different look. I love my retro/vintage Swatches!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      My wife has the fat boy Christmas watch for females, we cannot find a value for it anywhere. She is wanting to sell

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      hAVE A sWATCH sPACEGUY IN ORGIN PKS AND NEVER OUT OF BOX, WHAT'S IT WORTH?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      hi i have a 1989 still in original packet, flik flak swatch does anyone have any idea how much it is worth now please x

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Didn't they all used to cost the same amount - 24.99??

    • Milkcananime profile image

      Max Wong 5 years ago from Singapore

      The Swatches back in the 80s had better designs and styles than now ^^

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Decluttering and just found brand new in box Swatch the Beep watch .My husband broke his at work and my children replaced it as he relied on it ... but Swatch mended the original one so this one never got used as mobile phones were introduced!!!! We always wore Swatch watches I have a lot of used ones but this Beep brought back a lot of memories.How times have changed!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      cool watches great stuff.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great stuff.

    • nhotdeals profile image

      nhotdeals 5 years ago

      Sold a few on EBAY a few years back and made some major money

    • profile image

      jewellery-junkies 5 years ago

      I loved this lens - unfortunately I was an 80's baby so I never owned one (I don't think), but I remember my brother had one - these were the rage and must have present

    • sudokunut profile image

      Mark Falco 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      This is a great lens. These watches were all the rage amongst my friends but I never owned one myself.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      I never owned one, but I can remember it like it was yesterday. Everyone owned one of these. Excellent collection of swatches!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i have an original swatch ski/access snowpass watch brand new condition still in its original plastic casing with paperwork, is it collectable and what value would it have.

    • bames24 lm profile image

      bames24 lm 6 years ago

      I used to have one... :)

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 6 years ago

      I don't have one..... but these are so cool!

    • tammy1727 profile image

      tammy1727 6 years ago

      hahahaha great lens, I had an 80 one with the material band and a 90s one with the plastic band

    • joanv334 profile image

      joanv334 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      atomicgirl24 6 years ago

      OMG, you made me feel so old, lol! Great lens, BTW. :-)

    • LissaKlar LM profile image

      LissaKlar LM 6 years ago

      I loved my Swatch. I was thinking of buying one for my daughter. Great lens.

    • ravi551854 profile image

      ravi551854 6 years ago

      good swatch to see. yes i had one watch of 80s or 90s i do not know abjectly where i put that.but you made a nice lens related to watches

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Among the various kinds of fashion accessories, swatch remain the most versatile.

      replica watches

    • the-good-stuff profile image

      the-good-stuff 6 years ago

      I'm a child of the 90's, but I grew up on reruns of Parker Lewis and that's pretty much what got me into Swatches. I love them, especially the ones with the thin silicone straps. I have several Swatches and they're the best!

    • profile image

      akrause2112 6 years ago

      As a child of the 80's I always wanted one and never got one :(

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 6 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      I love Swatch. I have one, not vintage, I bought it a couple of years ago. With fishes and seahorses! I admit I can browse ebay a long time looking to them....BUT i refrain from buying. I already collect enough stuff:)

    • profile image

      jackPeterson 6 years ago

      This is very helpful website..

      This is very helpful and informative blog....

      Thanks for sharing information..

      nice one i really like it..

      Rolex Watches

      Sterling Silver Bracelet

      It is really nice for me to see you and your great hardwork again.Every piece of your work look excellent.Looking forward to hearing more from you!

    • profile image

      wotadvert4 6 years ago

      hanks for sharing knowledge..

      Good post again.

      Thank you for sharing,

      I hope you happy and wish you good luck!

      This helpful information.

      This is really fantastic advice, thank you so much

      This is really fantastic blog i like it.

      It is very informative blog.

      Rolex Watches

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      Rolex Submariner

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    • profile image

      ezpostcard 6 years ago

      I grew up as a swatch watch kid. Too bad I rarely could see these watches nowadays.

    • Lisa-Marie-Mary profile image

      Lisa-Marie-Mary 6 years ago

      Aw yeah, I had a Swatch watch and I had friends that had several of them! Loved those things! And don't forget the Swatch protectors! :-)

    • profile image

      GabrielaFargasch 6 years ago

      I love swatches!! I had many of them in the 90's!! In all colors! I love everything retro! Great lens!

    • imacy ray82 profile image

      imacy ray82 6 years ago

      Robbins @ Bulova women's watches

      Swatch has been in the business of watch making for quite some time. Your lens page did justice to inform enlighten me on some swatch vintage watches. 4 stars up. cheers

    • hepmepez profile image

      hepmepez 6 years ago

      I wish I still had my swatches! I loved those things, especially the ones that smelled good. Thanks for bringing back that memory! :)

    • profile image

      Tarra99 6 years ago

      Wow!...I had forgotten all about these...cool retro lens...thanks for popping into my retro spider-man lens...I appreciate your visit!

    • Not-Pop profile image

      Not-Pop 6 years ago

      I had that watch, the big yellow one with no numbers. It had a banana-scented band and I wore it every day. I cried when it got swiped from the lockers at a public pool. I'm a watch freak and I LOVE these old Swatches. Great lens!

    • profile image

      bcarter 6 years ago

      I totally loved my Swatch watch growing up. I'm not quite sure what happened to it, but I'm sure it's gone after 5 moves.

      Thanks for the memories,

      B

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Oh, thanks for the memories, couldn't help but smile! Wasn't it just fun to look at people's wrists back then. I wonder if my daughter still has hers somewhere. What fun!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 6 years ago from Iowa

      I had totally forgotten about Swatches. Fun lens. :)

    • Jennifer Einstein profile image

      Jennifer Einstein 6 years ago from New York City

      I had the black and red one and I LOVED it.

    • Dee Gallemore profile image

      Dee Gallemore 6 years ago

      I was a Swatch poster child! I still have one that was my favorite but it no longer works. Great lens!

    • profile image

      Tempus 6 years ago

      Stunning lens about some stunning watches. Oh my first see through swatch, I remember it so well. When it finally ticked its last tock it was like saying 'Good-bye' to a close friend..

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      excellent seller! although they sent me a wrong manual of operation. overall, im very pleased with what i bought. i hope that they send me a new manual for my watch. Best Ladies Luxury Watches

    • profile image

      AccessoriesPlus 7 years ago

      Great lens, impressive presentation.

    • profile image

      alebertwesker 7 years ago

      that's a pretty impressive selection of retro watches you got there, truly eyecatching for sure, although the 80s youtube add doesn't seem to work, would have been funny to see hehe. nice stuff!

    • rubyandmahoney profile image

      rubyandmahoney 7 years ago

      Oh man, did this bring back some memories. My brother gave me a black one for my 16th birthday. I wore that thing for more than 5 years non-stop. I only stopped wearing it because I was afraid the hinges were going to snap. I found it just the other day in my jewelry box and it brought back so many memories. Thanks for trip down memory lane!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      I always loved Swatch watches. Only ever owned one though. You've put together a really interesting guide to them here.

    • newbizmau profile image

      Guided Abundance 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

      Thanks for recommending my atari lens. I have a friend who didn't grow up in the 80's who loves 80's stuff and wears all kinds of 80's styles and doesn't even know it. She would love these watches. I'm going to email your lens to her.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      Looks like a lot of fun and great gift ideas!

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 7 years ago from USA

      Very very cool!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I didn't know Swatch watches were still around. Great information. 5*

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 7 years ago

      Great lens! I used to have a swatch watch in the eighties which is when I was in high school