Swarovski Lovely Crystals, Octea Sport, Piazza Mesh Watches For Women Hands-On
It was back in 2009 when Swarovski began to produce self-branded wrist watches, and today, I think they have some of the most unique affordably-priced women’s watches available. Here, we look at three Swarovski watches: the Swarovski Octea Sport, Swarovski Piazza Mesh, and the Swarovski Lovely Crystals. At this very moment, there are actually 87 distinct women’s watches for sale on the Swarovski website (and 17 for men). So let’s have a look at what you might also feel are rather fun women’s watches that won’t break the bank.
In many ways, I think the appeal of Swarovski watches is the same as that of Swarovski crystals. The company today is split into two business arms. One sells loose crystals to other companies, and the other part of the business is the production of various Swarovski-branded products ranging from figurines to watches and jewelery. Swarovski crystals are high-quality, albeit low-priced alternatives to more expensive decorative crystal or diamonds. That doesn’t mean Swarovski items are cheap, but rather that a piece of jewelry (for example) with Swarovski crystals is a tiny fraction of the price (often $50 – $300) compared to something similar with real diamonds.
What makes Swarovski watches and jewelry items special, in my opinion, is their dedication to high-quality, original designs. Yes, Swarovski jewelry fits into the mold of “costume jewelry,” but it isn’t trying to replicate something else. These are unique creations, and their designs are genuinely good, as well as being the right mixture of elegant and playful. As a male watch lover, I’ve long admired their timepieces for women – and am happy when people looking for something not too expensive but still good find out about the brand and choose their products.
I recently had the opportunity to interview the head of watches over at Swarovski, Mr. Hanspeter Hanschick (article published on Forbes). Hanschick is a watch industry veteran and who I credit with a lot of the brand’s current design success. A close look at the many Swarovski watch designs reveals a rather impressive dedication to things like legibility and comfort – where most similarly-priced women’s watches are either derivative or mostly decorative. So the combination of originality and careful thought is one of the things that I personally believe is very correct with many Swarovski watches.
It shouldn’t be too surprising that many Swarovski ladies’ watches are a bit “blingy.” That is sort of the nature of the brand, and if you are looking for totally understated simplicity, these are not watches for you, or your female counterparts. Most (but not all) Swarovski watches have varying amounts of crystals on them. Some even use faceted pieces of crystal for the bezel – which is the case with the Swarovski Octea Sport collection. I’ve photographed one of the Swarovski Octea Sport watches here – which is actually the first Swarovski watch I learned about that got me interested in the brand.
The Octea collection includes the Swarovski Octea Sport and the Swarovski Octea Classica. The Swarovski Octea Sport models come in 39mm-wide cases in various colors and on rubber straps. Aggressive sportiness is softened with a range of feminine design elements ranging from the colors to the Swarovksi crystal elements on the dial. Here, the bezel is not crystal but rather white ceramic, and is matched by some ceramic elements integrated into the white rubber strap. These pieces of ceramic are faceted to play with the dial. The cases are steel but often coated, such as this reference 5040555 Swarovski Octea Sport White Rose Gold Tone watch model. The dial legibility is really great given the theme of the watch (even if the hands could be a tad bit longer). I wondered what a men’s version of the Swarovski Octea Sport might look like, and then Swarovski actually released one.
In 2012, aBlogtoWatch debuted the Swarovski Octea Abyssal Automatic watch which was a 44mm wide, 200-meter water resistant men’s version of the lady’s Swarovski Octea Sport. The Swarovski Octea Abyssal further contained a Swiss automatic mechanical movement, while all the women’s Swarovksi watches contain Swiss quartz movements. The Swarovski Octea Abyssal Automatic watch is still available today, along with a modest amount of other unique men’s models. With that said, during discussions with people at the Swarovski brand it is clear that their focus is on women’s products and men’s watches and jewelry are certainly available, but not as important for their overall strategy right now.
While the Swarovski Octea Sport (by definition) is the brand’s more sporty offering, most of the brand’s watches for women are somewhere between “evening elegant” and casual dressy. There is a distinct youthful personality to the watches – which is typified by Swarovski’s penchant for modern design, as well as a lots of sparkle. While some women may prefer more conservatively designed watches, I think the loudness of the Swarovski designs work in their favor. As opposed to real diamonds, these are sparkly watches which are “safer” to wear. In a sense, that is why I mentioned earlier that Swarovski watches are like their crystals – these are a very non-controversial (and fun) means of showing off a bit of bling – and at the same time, are still tasteful about it.
A crowd-pleasing Swarovski watch model is the Swarovski Lovely Crystals, which has a ring of set mobile Swarovski stones around the bezel. Actually, there is also a rectangular version of the watch called the Swarovski Lovely Crystals Square. Seen here is the reference 1187022 Swarovski Lovely Crystals White / Yellow Gold Tone watch that comes on a matching two-tone bracelet. The 35mm-wide case is eye-pleasing on both a bracelet and the various straps, and Swarovski is offering the Swarovski Lovely Crystals in a range of colors.
The point of the Swarovski Lovely Crystals watch is to offer something for the wearer to play with. The “Swarovski Zirconia” stones are locked in the ring but can otherwise move around. This means they are moving around while one wears the watch, but they can also be moved around with your fingers. An interesting little detail is a charm in the ring located at about 8 o’clock. By default, it is a small heart, but if you turn the watch over it is clear you can screw it out and insert a different charm image. The dial of this Swarovski Lovely Crystals watch is mother-of-pearl and is surrounded by another ring of crystals. While the dial is attractive, it is more for “elegant attire,” given the lack of complete hour markers and its smallish size (that makes it harder to read, as compared to most other Swarovski watches). Nevertheless, the modern yet elegant style and the tactile experience of the Swarovski Lovely Crystals watch collection has made it a favorite among Swarovski consumers.
The last piece I photographed in this round-up is the Swarovski Piazza Mesh Yellow Gold Tone watch ref. 1000670. For me, this is a perfect example of what a Swarovski women’s watch should be. It is unabashedly sparkly, but it has a very legible dial and sense of composed design that prevents it from being seen as “too much.” The Swarovski Piazza Mesh has a 36mm-wide case but also comes in a smaller Swarovski Piazza Mini version that is 30mm wide but has a different case and less legible dial. The dial has a full set of hour markers, which makes it easy to read (and they have hand-applied Swarovski elements set in them), but the overall theme of this watch is quite dressy.
Of course, what most people will notice about the Swarovski Piazza Mesh is the strap, which has a white leather inner lining and a mesh of set Swarovski crystals. The buckle is magnetic, and you actually need to take in the strap to have it sized – which is an inconvenience. With that said, it is among the most distinctive straps around, and for women who like the idea of a nice looking yet original watch with a very shiny strap, I think the Swarovski Piazza Mesh will hit the spot.
I would not be speaking so casually about these watches if the price were in the thousands of dollars. As far as I have seen, all of the Swarovski women’s watches are $1,000 and under. In the case of the watches covered in this article, both the Swarovski Lovely Crystals and Octea Sport have a retail price of $650, while the Swarovski Piazza Mesh has a retail price of $700. No, that isn’t extremely cheap, but I think you are getting a lot of watch for your money in terms of style and overall construction quality. I really do think that Swarovski’s lady’s watches are the answer to what a lot of women are looking for in a fashionable timepiece. swarovski.com