Swatch Ads from the early 80s and beyond

If you have early (1982-1983) Swatch material (watches, prototypes, merchandise, advertisement material, ads, ...) for sale or trade, please contact me, I am always interested.

Check out a brief "History of Swatch 1979-1984"

1983 Swatch ad (for GR100). It appeared on 4-DEC-1983 in the New York Times Magazine.

Below is an earlier four page leaflet from the US showing the 1983 collection (the "famous 25 first" 1983 Gent Swatches), released in March 1983 in the US.  I am not sure if it is the first Swatch advertisement leaflet ever.  It is clearly designed in the that 80s style...  I think that it is very interesting that seven different prices ($19.99, $24.50, $27.50, $29.95, $32.50, $34.50, $37.50 US) were used.  The metallic faces were the most expensive...  Note that the are different to the ones that we know today!  The cheapest one ($19.99, GB012 = GB001) is not pictured.  And you can see that the collector who used this leaflet to check the details of his collection is also missing the pieces that are extremely rare today.

Here is another ad from the USA, showing the first Swatch watch collection:

According to Swatch, the following ad is the first Swatch advertisement ever (DEC-1982, "Texas Monthly", page 257), I think that the leaflet above belongs to this campaign:

Swatch is not 100% correct:  The NOV-1982 edition of the "Texas Monthly" already contains a special advertising section ("Stocking Stuffers") with a few Swatch photos.  Note the Spanish weekdays!  This probably now is the first Swatch ad ever:

Hans van Buuren found an 1983 "strap it on" ad (original scan!) which is very slighty different to the one above:

First ever Swiss leaflet?  (from the Schmid Muller collection)

Another Swiss leaflet (German / French) from 1983, showing the Fachhandellogo watches as well:

A very early sticker(!) from 1983 (size is 30x15cm):

The following is not exactly an ad but very early press material (4 pages) from the Swatch launch.  You can find it in Sistem51: Swatch as Swatch can, a nice blog post (in German) where Gisbert L. Brunner describes the development from the original Gent Swatch in 1983 up to SISTEM51 in 2013.   It is not the original 1982/83 press material as it shows a Classique (GB703RE) and a Jelly Fish (available in late 1984 / early 1985).

After searching for many years:  Herbie Minnemann (from Argentina of all places!) finally posted a few photos of the first catalogue (or press info?) from 1983, Switzerland ("holy grail"):

A superrare flyer from Switzerland showing the 1983/84 collection, likely distributed in fall 1983.  Impossible to find...

...even more rare:  A 1983 flyer from Switzerland showing the Fachhandellogo collection.

Swatch was launched in Germany on 19-SEP-1983, see this original press release / launch plan:

Below is a very early ad from Germany:  It appeared in the men's lifestyle magazine Penthouse (DEC-1983).  Original sales price of a Swatch watch was 49,90 DM (German Mark, approx.  25 EURO).

The sales of Swatch watches in the UK had started in March 1983 already.  This is probably the first, four page foldout leaflet that was handed out.  Back then, Swatch watches were distributed by "Avia International Division, Louis Newmark plc, 15/25 Ormside Way, Redhill, Surrey RH1 2QA".

click on the image to enlarge

The following photos show the corresponding information for the press / retailers (thanks to Herbie Minnemann).  Now this display box is rare, never seen!

click on the image to enlarge

The following six page foldout leaflet was distributed in early 1984 in the UK as it shows some 1984 Swatches. 

outside (click on the image to enlarge)

inside (click on the image to enlarge)

The following things are interesting to be noted:
Below are two early blister packagings for Swatch watches.  These specific packagings were sold in the UK as they carry a round sticker with that six digit number.  In this case:  654671 and 650771.  So these two packagings originally contained a GB705 (concluded from the price sticker on the back [19.95 UKP!], not in the leaflet above) and a GT702.

Below is a large invitation card for a Swatch launch event in Paris, France on 03-APR-1984.  Size is about 22 x 32 cm.  Is it the first time that Swatch watches were available in France?  I assume not (but I just can't find it in the books). 

According to this website (screenshot), this invitation was designed by Kiki Picasso!

French press map (16 pages, card board) for the 1986 Swatch collection, very rare!

First ever ("wordwide") exhibition of street art painting in Paris in JUN-1986:

Below are two leaflets from Switzerland ---  Spring / Summer 1984 and Fall / Winter 1984/1985 (does any one own a 1983 leaflet from Switzerland??):

Below is the first Swatch leaflet (four pages) distributed in Belgium in summer 1984 when the sales of Swatch watches started there.  The first Swatch collection sold in Belgium consisted of twelve gent watches:

The following leaflet describing the french advertising campaign in spring / summer 1985 is also quite interesting.  It was only distributed to dealers.  Size is A5, fully foldout size is A3:

This is an advertisement for the Swatch Watch New York City Fresh Festival 1984, Hip-Hop's first national tour of the US, including artists such as The Fat Boys, Run D.M.C., Curtis Blow, Whodini, ...  This one is from the tour stop on 07-DEC-1984 at the Sports Arena in San Diego, CA.  Another tour stop was at the Oakland Coliseum Arena on 09-DEC-1984.  Some general information about this tour:  The 1984 Swatch Watch New York City Fresh Fest, Hiphop’s first national tour, debuts Labor Day weekend (early SEP-1984) in Greensboro, NC. Including 27 dates through Christmas, the tour featuring Run D.M.C., Kurtis Blow, Whodini, the Fat Boys, Newcleus, and New York’s Dynamic Breakers grosses $3.5 million US.  Later, the Fat Boys sign an endorsement deal with Swatch.

A special blue promoter T-shirt for the Fresh Festival 1984 also exists:

The next three ads are from the USA, showing the 1984 collection.  The first ad features the famous Tennis player Ivan Lendl wearing eight(!) Swatch watches.  The second shows a PINK Windrose Gent Swatch (very strange! I am sure that no proto in this colour exists).    The third one features actress Lauren Hutton.  The fourth one shows "Top Race Driver" Danny Sullivan (winner of the 1985 Indianapolis 500).

A 1985 ad from the USA promoting the Limelight Xmas watches, here: Sir Limelight (GB106):

Another Limelight ad from the USA (1985):

An ad from 1986 by the US department store chain Macy's, advertising a very rare version of the famous Gent Jelly Fish (GK100):  Thick hands, no "(c) Swatch AG 1985" at the 12 o'clock position of the silver ring.  Try to find this.  It won't be easy...

An ad from 1986 by the US department store chain Bloomingdale's, advertising the "Swatch Signature Collection of Clothing and Accessoires".  These Swatch accessoires were very popular back in the day.

Seventeen magazine (USA, FEB-1986):

A Granita Di Frutta ad from Sweden (1985):

In 1985, Swatch was a sponsor of the Japan tour of Huey Lewis and the News.

Swatch was also featured in the Tour Program:

Also in 1985, Swatch accompanied the British New-Wave Band, Thompson Twins on their concert tour in the USA.  A special 12 Flags Thompson Twins Maxi Swatch was given away by the Los Angeles radio station KROQ:

A special white promoter T-shirt for the Thompson Twins Tour For Future Days 1985 also exists:

back of the T-shirt
Promotional TV ad for Thompson Twins:

The following ads were used by swatch in the early 80s (84/85 to be precise; we can recognize favourite swatches such as 12 Flags, Computech, Yellow Racer etc.).  They are quite good!  So take your time to download them! These ads have an interesting story  They were designed by Paula Scher, a well known graphic designer from the US.  In 1984 she co-founded Koppel & Scher with editorial designer and fellow Tyler graduate Terry Koppel. During the six years of their partnership, she produced identities, packaging, book jackets, and even advertising, including the famous Swatch poster based on previous work by Swiss designer Herbert MatterHere is a very interesting article about the work of Koppel & Scher for Swatch.



Thanks to Brian Pier for the pictures.

Here is another ad from the "family that ticks" campaign sent to me by Sam@altivo and June Berliner, two different variants:

5-OCT-2007:  I just found one more picture:

Below are two ads from Italy for the two Xmas specials from 1988. Pompadour (GX106) and Bonaparte (GX107):

Below is an ad for the infamous Swatchetables POP specials ("the veggie set"), printed in the USA Today of 26-AUG-1991.  1750 out of 9999 of each One More Time artist special designed by Austrian / Swiss artist Alfred Hofkunst (1942 - 2004) were sold in the USA for $100 US each.  Gu(h)rke (PWZ100) is a cool green, right down to the dial, inked to look like a moist, seeded slice of cucumber. Bonju(h)r (PWZ101) is a strip of bacon, cleverly curly and striped, fairly crisping at the wrist. Verdu(h)ra (PWZ102) is an abundant, glistening red, the dial cushioned inside a plump-looking bell pepper.

The text in the ad reads:

"SWATCHETABLES - fresh from a sold out performance in Europe!  SWATCHETABLES ... the freshest approach to time yet, designed by famed European artist Alfred Hofkunst:   Gu(h)rke, Bonju(h)r,Verdu(h)ra.  Here's some food for thought: SWATCHETABLES will only be available in 8 food and produce markets throughout the country.  For the cultivated few, Swatchetables are in a limited edition of only 1,750 of each style, in the U.S.  Each watch numbered ... best picked fresh!  SWATCHETABLES are the collectible non-edibles ... they sold out within hours of going in sale in Europe!  Swiss grown, quartz precise.  Non-fattening, needs no refrigeration.  Water and shock resistant.  Don't forget, produce markets accept cash and checks only.  All sales final; sale limited to one set or one watch per customer.  Suggested retail price:  $100 US per watch."

Sales locations in 1991:

New York City Dean & DeLuca 27-AUG-1991
Los Angeles Irvine Rancher's Market 28-AUG-1991
Minneapolis Farmers Market Annex 29-AUG-1991
Newport, R.I. Crest Farm 05 to 08-SEP-1991
Dallas Farmers Market 07-SEP-1991
Washington, D.C. Sutton Place Gourmet 11-SEP-1991
San Francisco Monterey Market (Palo Alto) 11-SEP-1991
Seattle Larry's Market (Bellevue) 17-SEP-1991

It is interesting to notice that the official name ("SWATCHETABLES") is not used among collectors these days.  Everybody knows this set as "Vegetable Set" or "Veggies".
This is an ad for the SWATCHETABLES in the biggest German weekly new magazine (DER SPIEGEL 24/1991):

Below are the ads for the first Swatch Chrono collection in 1990.  The Chronos were a huge success back then and they sold out immediately.  Note that a few watches (White Horses, Skate Bike and Signal Flag) show the very rare dummy variant with coloured buttons / crown instead of the chromium ones of the regular watch that was sold later. The three small hands of the White Horses Chrono also have different colors compared to the regular watch.

Thanks to Christine Tanner for a few pictures and to Hans van Buuren for additional information.

Swatch also sold Funwear & Fungear in the USA during the mid 80s (probably 1985/86):

And the very cool Swatch sunglasses (manufactured by Alpina), fetching big money on ebay these days....

US Skateboarder Rodney Mullen showing a few watches from the 1987 collection:

A nice autograph card by Conny Kissling, probably from 1987 (plus a corresponding small display):

A nice Swatch Ballon poster from the mid 80s:

A late 80s "ROBO Swatch" POP Swatch ad (from the UK).  Rarely seen before, probably from 1988/89:

The following is not an ad.  INFO ETA is (was?) the company magazine of ETA SA Fabriques d'Ebauches.  Magazine No. 13 (MAR-1988) shows an autograph card by Robert Redford.  Swatch had replaced his Don't be Too Late Swatch after his daughter had "borrowed" it.  By the way, Doug Williams is still active on ebay trading Swatch memorabilia...

Recommended reading with more vintage photos: A first look at the Swatch watch in 1982/83

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