August 25, 2021
In 1919, the first location of the legendary Bauhaus school of design was created in Germany, and 100 years later, its influence is still strongly seen. To celebrate the centennial anniversary of the school, Swatch has released a new collection of 25 watches ranging greatly in style, color, and boldness. I decided to purchase the Sistem BAU (SUTW405) as it was one of the most subtle in its design elements, while still having some fun with a little splash of color that certain students of the Bauhaus are known for.
Let me start this off by saying this is the first Swatch I’ve purchased. I know Swatch is known for affordable, varied designs, but for the most part, I’ve never really found something from them I’ve really loved. I like some aspects of the Sistem Bau, but there are some others that I’ve grown to dislike while wearing this watch which I’ll go over as well.
I think my favorite part about this watch are the contrasting colors. The band and case of the watch are a clean white, but the clasp, crown, and dial focus your attention on the details of the dial on the black surface.
The dial itself is where the personality of the watch starts to shine. Its Bauhaus inspired primary colors really make the hands pop off the face of the watch.
The hands themselves are each a different primary color, with an additional splash of red under the date window, as well as on the small constellation design that appears on the dial.
The curvature of the black bezel almost makes the sapphire crystal look rounded at certain angles, but in reality, the crystal lies flat. I’d love to see a more vintage-inspired crystal that pops off the face of the watch a bit more, but at this price point using sapphire, its a small, nitpicky piece of feedback on my end.The case is 42 mm wide and 13.90 mm thick, making it a pretty standard size for a modern watch.
The strap is made of silicone, which is nice and durable, as with most silicone (especially white) it can pick up dirt from pretty light use.
Like the rest of the hardware, the crown is a simple black piece of plastic. Pulling it out one click will allow you to turn the crown to adjust the date, and pulling it out an additional click will allow you to set the time.
The heartbeat of the watch is a Swatch made Sistem51 movement. Swatch created this movement around 2016, and despite its low price, it’s a pretty clever piece of engineering and design. It contains 51 parts over 5 modules, linked together with one primary, central screw. While it’s a great piece of technology, it’s future becomes bleak when you realize that without the ability to open the case of the watch, it’s going to be easier just to replace the watch if and when something goes wrong.
Speaking of the back of the watch, I was a bit surprised the first time I turned the watch over and discovered the design. Its black color matches the front, but the intentional looking constellation design previously seen is replaced by a ton of evenly spaced, multiple colored dots. I wish the design language that was used on the front of the watch applied to the back, but maybe that’s just me.
Another thing to note—see that black outer ring? It spins around while winding the mechanical movement, but I was a bit taken back to hear how noticeably loud it was while spinning. It’s a pretty noticeable sound even when you’re wearing it on your wrist.
The hardware itself is as simple as you can get. It’s a simple plastic clasp with a nice little splash of color.
Overall, I think this is a nice watch, but I think it’s priced a bit too high ($140USD) due to the cheap plastic hardware, and how loud it is during everyday use. I think the dial design of the Sistem Bau is excellent with its simple design and contrasting colors, but I can’t say the same about the back. This is only 1 of the 25 watches they’ve released, so check the designs of the other watches on their site (update: I can't seem to find these product on their site anymore).
If you’re looking for something similar in design with Bauhaus roots, I still recommended the Braun line of watches after wearing them for years, specifically a beautiful ceramic watch called the BN0171 and the more affordable, classic Braun BN0032.