Can You Really Get the Benefits of a Ceramic Watch for $80?

Swatch's Bioceramic watches offer an interesting material and some very retro '80s designs.

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The '80s are back, and there's no watch more representative of that decade than a plastic Swatch. The new 1984 Reloaded collection pays tribute to the era with reissues featuring bright, clashy colors and geometric shapes, but made to feel very 2020s with the use of an innovative material and "sustainability" messaging: The collection uses Swatch's still new Bioceramic, adding technical interest (and possibly practical benefits) to some fun, retro looks.

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34mm Swatch Gent Bioceramic 1984 Reloaded WHI_MEM M
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 41mm Swatch Gent Bioceramic 1984 Relaoded GRE_MEM L
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Ceramic is a hot material in the watch industry, nearly impervious to scratches, remarkably lightweight and silky-soft to the touch — but it's a rather premium one, generally found in watches from luxury brands from the likes of Rado to Omega, IWC and many more. Swatch's Bioceramic collection, on the other hand, starts at around a cool $80, so you probably shouldn't assume you're getting the same kind of material that typically commands prices in the four-to-five-figure range. So what, exactly, is Bioceramic?

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41mm Swatch Gent Bioceramic 1984 Reloaded Yel_Race
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It's a "mix of ceramic and bio-sourced plastic derived from castor oil." It's also claimed to offer some of the same properties that make ceramic attractive for watchmaking, like scratch resistance, lightness and softness — so is it ceramic or plastic? Both, it would seem. Ceramics and plastics each come in a variety of forms, and Bioceramic could perhaps be considered a variety of either one. (At the very least, "ceramic" sounds a lot sexier than plastic.)

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41mm Swatch Gent Bioceramic 1984 Relaoded BLA_DIV
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41mm Swatch Gent Bioceramic 1984 Relaoded Rouge & Noir
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The new watches come in five versions with 34mm and 41mm diameters, all powered by quartz movements. In addition to the cases, the clasps are also in Bioceramic and the straps are in a "bio-sourced material" — in on other words, some form of bio-plastic. Plastic feels appropriate for watches like this, as they represent designs released in 1984, a year after Swatch launched as a brand. Though there's no real cost difference from Swatch's wider collection of watches, the properties of Bioceramic just might make these feel a step above.

The Swatch Bioceramic 1984 Reloaded watches will cost $80 for the 34mm variants while $90 will get you the 41mm model. The collection is available now from the brand online.

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