The response to the launch of the MoonSwatch is even better than McDonald’s Happy Meal giveaways. Reports emerged that it’s the same throughout much of Asia
Swatch at ION Orchard this morning. Photo: Singapore Atrium Sale
The crowd at the opening of Uniqlo in Ang Mo Kio yesterday was nothing, “insane” as it might have been. This morning, at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and ION Orchard, you’d think that mask-off Tuesday had arrived, rather than the launch of a mere timepiece: the Swatch X Omega Speedmaster MoonSwatch. A friend of SOTD’s texted us at 9.30 this morning, saying: “It’s madness; it’s like they’re giving the watch for free. Don’t come.” He was at ION Orchard—“I know they say that with mask on, no social distancing is required, but jostling?” His frustration is understandable, just as the response to the launch of the MoonSwatch is expected. Yesterday, at the Swatch store in Orchard Central, we were advised by the friendly staff not to join the “crush”. One of them told us to “wait for the restock”. And why not? Swatch has never touted the MoonSwatch as a limited release.
The thing is, who’d believe this—an explodable throng outside Swatch? This was not the first drop of some Yeezy sneaks. It made the manic scramble last December outside the Foot Locker at Orchard Gateway look like nothing. At ION Orchard this morning, tempers flared quickly and things became so bad that the easily-angered even challenged security personnel to do the unthinkable. One video starting circulating online during lunch time. An antagonised fellow shouted at uniformed officers as if he was denied entry into his favourite KTV bar. With his face mask down to his lips, he challenged them in Mandarin: “你拿枪射击我啦 (Take your gun and shoot me, lah)”. Someone was heard responding: “This one three hundred dollar (sic) only, leh”. Many took to social media to lament how poorly Swatch ran the event, with scant crowd management procedures in sight.
In Shibuya, Tokyo. Photo: Tokyo Touch
In Taipei’s 101. Photo: Watchbus
Queuing in the rain in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Photo: Frankie Herrera
But it was not just on our island that the Swatch stores were ”overwhelmed”, as one marketing executive told us, pointing to how the staff at the stores could not manage the “determined” shoppers. Reports started to appear on social media after noon of the crowds that swarmed Swatch outlets in the capital cities around us. Our contact in Japan was the first to tell us that what he saw outside the Shibuya store was “discouraging”. In Bangkok, we were informed, Swatch “cancelled” the launch as the crowds at all three of their launch sites were “overcrowded” and “baa (crazy)”. A friend from Macau, who took time off from his job at the front desk of a hotel, too, reported that there was “no way” he could cop the watch. In neighbouring Hong Kong, our contributor saw queues snaked round blocks in Causeway Bay, with those in line waiting in the rain. The police eventually dispersed the crowd and Swatch Hong Kong announced that “the launch will be on hold until further notice“, prompting Netizen to call the event a “disaster”. More stories shared on social media also expressed dismay and shock at the hordes and the lack of order in Taipei and Kuala Lumpur. Swatch really scored big this time.
The mad dash outside CentralWorld, Bangkok. Screen grab: Payu Nerngchamnong
Last-minute signs posted on the Swatch store in CentralWorld, announcing its closure. Photo: ttoeytraveller
Outside Kuala Lumpur’s Pavilion Mall. Last night! Photo: Shopping Mall Malaysia
Many were unhappy that the situation had “turned messy”. Despite being told that the watches (11 colours) are sold out, scores chose to hang around outside the two Swatch stores here, which prompted the retailer to announce via Facebook around noon that the MoonSwatch “is not limited edition, and more opportunities to purchase will be available in the coming weeks”’ It also urged “customers without queue numbers (to) please kindly refrain from visiting the store as we are temporarily out of stock”. Netizens started sharing that the sale of the MoonSwatch is not limited in quantity and would be available again. But that has not stopped those lucky enough to buy one (the initial limit of two per customer was amended to a single piece) to resell it on Carousell for a staggering S$4,888, in one offer. That is madness too.
That the response to this collaboration between two watch brands could be this frenzied and staggering is perhaps to be expected. While the tie-up was teased on social media for a week (including full-page ads in The New York Times telling readers that “It’s time to change your Swatch,” or “It’s time to change your Omega”), many did not know what it’ll turn out to be. Global curiosity raged. When images of the MoonSwatch were released two days before launch, the news spread more rapidly than any spacecraft heading for the stars. Swatch and Omega have, with one timepiece, debunked the believe that people do not wear wristwatches anymore. The MoonSwatch is one landing no one imagined.
Update (26 March 2022, 6pm): According to local media, Swatch Japan has “cancelled the release” of the MoonSwatch due to “shoppers flooding” designated stores in Tokyo’s Shibuya and Harajuku districts. It is not clear when the release would be reinstated