The Incredibly True Story Of How I Got My MoonSwatch
I spent five months stalking Swatch boutiques in three countries across two continents and ended up buying a Venus out of the boot of a Fiat in Copenhagen.
Here’s how it started. On March 24, Swatch announced that it was releasing the Omega x Swatch Speedmaster MoonSwatch collection. There would be 11 versions all based on the nine planets, sun, and moon. Best of all, this watch was priced at $260.
I love Omega. I love Swatch. I love a bargain. To subsidize the purchase, I pitched writing an article about my quest to get my mitts on one. However, things did not go exactly as planned.
Part 1: A New Hope
Saturday, March 26, Toronto:
I’ve done the drop thing before…I’ve lined up overnight for concert tickets; I’ve stood in the sweltering sun for Kanye merch; and I’ve queued up for Coronavirus vaccines. I was expecting the hypebeasts to turn out in force at the Toronto Eaton Centre Swatch boutique, so I planned to show up five hours in advance of the store opening.
It was a cold, rainy March morning. When I arrive the line was already snaking from Queen Street to Trinity Church. Organizers handed out numbers the night before. Before I even walk to the halfway point (250), security informed the crowd that there are only 200 available watches and are sure to run out by then.
Still, people keep joining the line hoping that maybe 100 of the 200 people ahead of them would take a pass if they can’t get the model they want.
I quickly realized that I will not be bringing home a MoonSwatch, but hang around a bit to interview folks in the line. There are regular Omega and Swatch enthusiasts as well as lots of moms suffering in the cold for their kids. There are also flippers out to make as much profit as fast as possible. They are checking the exorbitant offers on their eBay auctions for watches they didn’t even have yet. To skirt the one-watch-per-customer rule, these entrepreneurs brought their entire families – from grandmothers to little brothers – to the event.
Hitting the Road
Monday, March 28, Geneva:
I’m in Geneva for Watches and Wonders and figure I’d visit the boutique near the train station.
I enter the shop. A woman is begging the sales associate to sell her a Uranus. I’m translating from French, but it sounds like the associate is telling the customer that there are no MoonSwatches in stock. The woman demands that she sell the display model that’s sitting in a case in the window. The associate assures her that all the timepieces on display are non-working models. The woman begins to yell: “I promised that I’d bring him one. You have one and you are hiding it! Get me one now!
Part 2: My Descent into Madness
Sunday, April 24, Toronto:
Rumor has it that the Eaton Centre Swatch Boutique has restocked. But only for folks who were on an email list. Every time she comes out, Lady Swatch is peppered with questions: “how can I get on this email list? What if someone on the list doesn’t show up? When is the next restock?” Her responses: “I don’t know. If you’re still in the line now it’s highly unlikely you are going to get one today! I don’t care, today is my last day working here.”
Tuesday, June 28, New York City:
It’s been three months and the interest in the MoonSwatch has not abated. Has the interest in MoonSwatches become some sort of mania in me?
I keep seeing my New York friends modeling their MoonSwatches on Instagram. My Watchonista colleague Vincent Brasesco got a Venus in Vegas. Like a compulsive gambler or a member of a cult, I’m taking these posts as signs that my turn is coming soon!
This FOMO is leading to bad behavior. I’m in New York for a dinner with another brand. Our group passed the Swatch boutique in Grand Central Terminal. I was so overcome with the desire to sneak out of the event and take a peek that a colleague had to physically block me – “Not cool,” he said, and he was right.
I think I might have a problem.
Friday, August 5, Toronto:
I just finished my weekly appointment with disappointment at the Swatch boutique. I asked a few questions about when deliveries usually happened and they would not give an answer. Vexed, I mutter: “at this point I’m just going to buy one on StockX.” This was short-tempered and the associates do not deserve to endure snide remarks like this all day. I feel like a Karen. I am so ashamed that I decide I can’t go back to the Eaton Centre Swatch Boutique ever again.
The Final Countdown
Friday, August 5, Toronto:
I read another watch journalist’s hands-on review of his growing MoonSwatch collection. He makes an offhand comment that he got his the way almost everyone else did…on the secondary market.
Of course they did! I was a fool to think that these very busy people walked into a Swatch boutique on a whim and snapped up a Speedy. Except for Vincent at Watchonista, of course, because he did not get the MoonSwatch of his dreams and regaled me with the info that he had to show ID to prove that he hadn’t already bought one.
So now I’m late-night looking for an Earth on StockX. I tell my teammates that the focus of my article has shifted. They encourage me to stick to the in-store angle.
Wednesday, August 15, Toronto:
I’m so disheartened that I’m thinking of re-pitching the angle of this story to “why I’ll never get a MoonsSwatch.” Never again will I trek out to the mall. I will inform my editors when I get back from my family vacation to Denmark. Also, there are no Swatch boutiques in Denmark to tempt me. I know because I looked it up.
Monday, August 29, Copenhagen:
We check-in late and decide to stay in and catch up on emails.
I happen to follow Kristian Haagen, a Danish watch writer. On Instagram, he has posted a picture of a Fiat with a trunk full of MoonSwatches. He says it’s going to be parked outside of the Little Mermaid statue the next morning.
I message Haagen to see if his post is legit. He messages back to assure me that he is telling the truth. I tell Andrew (my husband) that I’ll be spending half of our one day in Copenhagen lining up in a tourist trap.
Tuesday, August 30:
It’s 6 AM. I can’t sleep, I’m so excited. It’s Tuesday…Speedy Tuesday. And even though I’ve been let down every week since March, I just know that today will be different.
It’s the first time Swatch has done a MoonSwatch pop-up. I believe that Haagen suggested the event. Selling them out of the boot of a car is especially cheeky. It bridges the line between the boutique-only experience and the lawless feeling of buying one from a reseller.
When I finally find the Fiat, the line is at least 175 strong. It is so big that the American tourists from the cruise ships are confused by the crowd. One older gentleman asks what we are lining up for. When informed that we are trying to buy an overhyped timepiece, he becomes enraged: “lining up for a watch? I wouldn’t take one if they gave it to me for free.”
Haagen is documenting the line and keeping people informed of which models are still available. There are only 200 pieces in the car. Haagen does a rough count. He says I should make it but it will be close.
My husband has joined me in the line. I promise that I’ll give up at noon but I’ve already invested so much energy that I can’t leave yet. This is the closest I’ve been. I’m not sure how I’ll react if I’m let down again.
The line begins to move more briskly because there is only one model left – Venus. Not my number one choice, but I long ago made peace with the fact that I would happily take any version I could.
I’m fifth in the line now. It feels like I’m gonna make it. As I take my credit card out of my wallet I say out loud: “I hope I’m not jinxing this.”
I made it! The sales associate places my Moonswatch in a bag. I hand her my credit card. She informs me that the card reader is not working and they are only taking cash. Despite being in front of Denmark’s most emblematic symbol, the closest ATM is a 15-minute walk. I feel like the Little Mermaid has cursed me. These Hans Christian Andersen stories never have a happy ending.
My dashing, handsome, loving, and extremely understanding husband springs into action, rents an electric bike, and speeds to the ATM. The Swatch crew agrees to hold the MoonSwatch until he gets back. I agree to spend the rest of our holiday visiting his favorite vintage bike and coffee shops without complaint.
Will Swatch repeat this type of event? Hopefully. But they also won't commit.
(Photogaphy by Rhonda Riche)