“ Brand: Swatch „
About 12 years ago I spent a ridiculous amount of money on a Cartier watch which I then wore ALL the time until it started to develop a problem with the clasp and kept popping open at odd times. I knew that I was going to have to spend several hundred pound to get it fixed but I kept putting it off quite simply because I didn't have another watch. My husband got so bored of me making excuses that last December he bought me a pre-Christmas present of a Swatch watch in the Happy Flower design so that I could send my Cartier off for mending. Procrastination is my forte so I've still not sent the watch for fixing but I have worn this ever since.
One thing I have to say up front - and please don't tell my husband - is that I don't actually like the watch very much. I know why he bought it; it's because the girl pictured on the watch has long dark hair and has two cute bears. He saw it and thought of me - which is undeniably cute, but probably not the best reason to buy a watch.
Happy Flower was released as part of the Autumn/Winter collection in 2008 and is - shockingly - classified as a Gent's watch. On which planet would the majority of men be willing to walk down the street with a pink and purple watch covered in daisies and hearts? I'm no Swatch expert - in fact I really don't like Swatch much at all - so maybe I'm misinterpreting the words 'Gent Standard'- perhaps that's Swatch-speak for 'watch for a man who likes pink and purple'. The only thing I can think of to explain the classification is that perhaps it refers to the size of the face which is larger than a ladies'swatch. I have very small wrists and to be honest, this has too big a face for me and really does look too big.
The face of the watch has the long haired girl wearing a little lime-green vest top, accompanied by two google eyed bears. The numbers are picked out with white and yellow daisies which are larger at the 3, 6 and 9 positions. The background is a shade of lavender. The second hand is white whilst the hour and minute hands are a deep pink which is almost impossible to see against the background. If people ask me the time I tell them I can tell them the seconds straight away but it might take a while to work out the rest. It's a ridiculous design failure if you - like me - think that the purpose of a watch is to tell you the time. I'm not necessarily sure that's an opinion shared by the people at Swatch.
The strap of the watch is 'eye-catching' which is a term I'm using as a euphemism for far too bloomin' loud. The background is quite a dark purple and it's decorated with daisies and hearts. One of the biggest problems I had was that all my continental colleagues recognised the purple as 'Milka purple' and kept asking if it was some kind of 'buy a chocolate bar, get a watch free' deal. And talking of people commenting, I went eleven years with barely anyone ever commenting on my fancy expensive Cartier and in just a few months got dozens of comments about my Swatch.
The most annoying thing about the watch - even worse than it looking ridiculous - was the stupidly loud tick. I had to take it off at night and put it in a bedside drawer to stop the ticking driving me crazy. If I forgot to take it off or on the many occasions when I'm staying in hotels and don't have a handy drawer, I had to put my arm under the pillow to deaden the tick. Working in the office one day a colleague actually complained about how loud the tick was because she could hear it from across the room.
I had a lot of problems with the strap of this watch which quickly became very stiff and started to crack quite badly. I was wearing the watch on one of the smallest holes and I think it put the plastic under a lot of stress. I also found in warm weather that the plastic strap was really sweaty and unpleasant and I would have to take it off a lot and even went many weeks without wearing a watch at all because it felt so unpleasant. Eventually the cracking on the watch was so bad that I thought it was risky that the whole thing would break and drop off my arm. My husband checked the paper work from when he'd bought the watch and was relieved to see that there was a two year guarantee. He rang the website that he bought it from and was told that the guarantee DIDN'T cover the strap even though it was clearly not fit for purpose. I think that's really ridiculous since I can't see what use a watch is if the strap is broken or - as in this case - it's also so uncomfortable that I can't bear to wear it.
My husband was determined to not give up on the watch although I had started taking furtive glances at other watches and was hoping the death of my Happy Flower watchstrap might mean I could get away with replacing it. He asked lots of jewellers' shops if they could fit a new strap and all said they would have to send it away for changing and we suspected it would cost at least half of what he'd paid for the watch. Eventually in Salisbury he found a key cutter's shop where they did watch straps and the guy fitted a new, soft, transparent Swatch strap for just £10. He commented that he could see that the strap had only been 'lightly worn' and that it really shouldn't have cracked the way it had. I actually like the watch a lot more (or maybe I dislike it less) with this almost invisible strap. It doesn't solve the problem of not being able to read the time and it doesn't deafen the ridiculous tick but at least it doesn't look quite so silly any more.
In the unlikely event that I've not put you off completely, a Happy Flower watch will cost you £38. I hope it suits you better than mine suits me.