2022 is the year of the great “affordable” watch

The crowd outside a London Swatch store trying to buy the MoonSwatch

Yui Mok – PA Images/Getty Images

But now, in retrospect, I think MoonSwatch was closer to the watch industry Staple x Nike Dunk event. Like the MoonSwatch that forced Swatch stores to shut down early in the day, this 2005 sneaker release caused havoc, leveraging collaboration, scarcity and distinctive design to create a product that was resold well above retail. It’s no coincidence that the new Unimatic watches come from the mind of Eric Peng Cheng, a prodigious watch collector who owns Bait and Undefeated, both of which have released plenty of limited edition sneakers over the years. He told Hodinkee this year he sees the worlds of watches and streetwear merging. Naturally, the collaboration takes many maneuvers from the sneaker world, such as creating a splashy colorway and suppressing quantity to drive hype. (The Lemon Yellow is limited to 50 pieces, while there are only 100 with the Polar White dial.) Out-of-stock notifications are now a regular part of the watch world, and the heartbreaking banner now sits on product page for Adsum’s Timex.

The good news is that these new watch releases are a bit more democratic than what most collectors are used to. The raffle system is at least as different, if not better, than the waiting list currently required to purchase many of the most sought-after watches. And when someone gets the chance to buy these watches, the price is much easier to understand.

The exciting thing about the watch industry stealing pages out of the hype sneaker playbook is that it results in amazing and more accessible watches. Usually, the best new watches of any year are accompanied by sky-high prices and year-long waiting lists. This year, collectors had the chance to get a watch that is half Omega for a 24th of the price of the brand’s standard Moonwatch. Of course, these pieces can now only be found at a marked price on secondary market StockXand collectors are desperate awaiting a long-promised reconstructionbut if there’s one thing window shoppers—a group obsessed with super-exclusive and super-expensive items—are used to, it’s not getting what they fall in love with.

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