No disorderly queues at new Swatch x Blancpain launch
An orderly queue of over 200 eager shoppers waited patiently outside each of the two Swatch boutiques launching the Swiss watch brand’s highly anticipated new Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms collection on Saturday morning.
It was a stark contrast to the Swatch launch of the Bioceramic MoonSwatch collection in March 2022, when crowds surged and turned rowdy, and the police had to be called in.
This time around, Swatch hired a private security company to manage the queues that began forming the night before at Swatch’s Ion Orchard and The Shoppes – Marina Bay Sands boutiques.
Watch buyers in the queues said their experience was a marked improvement over the previous launch.
Mr Tag Goh, a 21-year-old national serviceman, who queued overnight in both years said his experience this year at Ion Orchard was “so much better”.
“They even gave us time to go and buy food,” he added.
The new collection that was launched is a collaboration between Swatch and high-end Swiss watch maker Blancpain to re-create the latter’s iconic dive watch with a 70-year history. Each of the new Swatch models costs $565. A new Blancpain Fifty Fathoms costs between $15,000 and more than $30,000.
People who went on Friday and Saturday to the boutique in basement two of Ion Orchard were told to wait in line outside the mall in a sheltered walkway near a side entrance. They were given identity tags to verify their queue places when the boutique opened at 10am on Saturday.
Mr Eugene Ow, 48, who was third in the queue at the Ion Orchard boutique started queuing on Friday night at about 10.30pm with about 10 other watch enthusiasts.
He said security personnel were already on alert, but they were quite reasonable.
“From about 12 midnight to 5am, the security let us move around so we did not have to wait in line,” the retail operations manager added.
He said that by 5am on Saturday, there were close to 40 people in the queue, and by 7am, there were about 100 people.
At 9am, when The Straits Times visited the mall, there were over 200 people in line, with around eight security personnel overseeing the situation.
The Scuba Fifty Fathoms collection, which comes in five ocean-themed models, is a non-limited edition.
Most of the people that The Straits Times spoke to know this but decided to queue up for the watch anyway.
Mr Ow said he wanted only the Atlantic Ocean-themed watch, which has a rotating bezel in ocean blue. “Better safe than sorry,” he added.
At Marina Bay Sands, only about 200 people remained waiting in line at noon when The Straits Times visited the mall. Each of them had received a wrist tag with a serial number guaranteeing they can buy one watch. Among them was Ms Cindy Chee who said she saw about 20 people leave after they were unable to obtain a tag.
Swatch declined to say how many watches would be made available for sale in Singapore during the launch, but The Straits Times estimates that based on the number of tags given out, there were about 200 watches available for sale at each location.
By about 11.30am on Saturday, latecomers at both stores were told the watch had sold out.
Mr Bert Tan, 50, was one of the lucky ones in the queue at Ion Orchard who managed to get a paper wrist tag.
Mr Tan, who is retired, is a watch enthusiast with a collection of nearly 100 watches. He said he was drawn to join the queue because of “the hype” and plans to give his Scuba Fifty Fathoms watch away as a present.
In March 2022, Mr Tan also got in line for the Bioceramic MoonSwatch, which was a collaboration with luxury brand Omega, but added, “I gave up waiting halfway.”
Asked if the new watch was worth the money, Mr Tan said: “Everything is relevant to its price point.”
For Ms Chee, a 59-year-old housewife, it is the first time she has ever queued up for anything. She heard about the new watch and “was just curious”, she said.
“I like the colour, design, and the price is okay. It’s also ideal for travelling,” she added.
He currently owns a Tudor watch, which he said he managed to buy after being on a six-month waitlist.
He has never queued for a watch before either. “I queued for Jacky Cheung concert tickets (in July) but this is more worth it,” he added.