I Stood in Line for a Moonshine Gold MoonSwatch. And Didn’t Buy One.

Almost a year after the introduction of the MoonSwatch collection from Swatch, the brand has launched another version (the twelfth so far) of its best-seller last night, the “Mission to Moonshine Gold” with a seconds hand made of recycled “Moonshine” gold. This slightly more expensive version was made available exclusively on Tuesday in Tokyo, Zürich, Milan, and London, and went on sale at 7pm local time. I had picked Zurich as my closest location, since I wanted to see and document (again) how many people had queued up for this special version of the “Mission to the Moon” with gold treatment.

Much to my surprise, at 5pm, there were only about 200 people in front of Bahnhofstrasse 30 (the building with a retail space of 7,435m2 was acquired by Swatch Group in 2014 and served as a pop-up store last night). As a result, I spontaneously decided to not just be a journalist for once, but instead wait as a customer as well. – I hadn’t gotten one of the previous watches and thought this would be a nice surprise give-away for one of our upcoming TimeOut events with our readers (I was thinking about something like “if you can guess at what number in line I was, you’ll win the watch”). By 7 pm, the queue had doubled in length, and a couple of people also had joined existing groups in front of me. I would say there were around 250 people in front of me at this point, which meant there definitely wasn’t a problem getting one. – After all, Swatch Group knew exactly how much demand there was, and decided to create an even bigger buzz with choosing only four locations, and a very small time-frame this time. But, much to my surprise, the sales process turned out to be glacially slow: after three hours, we had finally made it to the corner of the building. It was 3°C (37.4 Fahrenheit) outside, I was miserable, cold, and most of all late. At 10pm, I gave up and went home. The store’s entrance was in sight at this point, but there was no way to predict if it would have taken another hour, or two to finally get there. In short, I realized I wasn’t up for a “Mission to Hypothermia,” and also that being a watch journalist was more than enough. At least I briefly got to see my colleague Robert-Jan Broer from Fratello who also covered the event in Zurich.

600 feet in three hours – waiting in line for a MoonSwatch “Mission to Moonshine Gold” required a lot of patience. And warm clothes.

I have said this before: the MoonSwatch was and is a stroke of genius, and I cannot stress out enough what this incredibly bold product has done for the industry as a whole. But I still can’t wrap my head around why there weren’t, for example, any additional crew members outside last night to help with credit card payments, so that buyers would only have to pick up their watches, once inside. Or why Swatch just didn’t bring more staff and cash registers to the event (only five customers were allowed in at a time). – Don’t get me wrong, the collective experience of waiting in line for a product that hot is fun to a certain point, and certainly a welcome PR opportunity for the brand, but the buying experience after the official start of the event could have been managed much more efficiently, especially after having already sold more than one million MoonSwatches last year.

Follow this link if you want to learn more about the MoonSwatch.

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  1. Jeff Taylor

    I was able to get an Earth MoonSwatch while at the Mall of America. While I really like it (so much so that I bought an Omega Speedmaster), but I’m starting to get turned off by the unavailability of this watch to anyone outside of Europe and Japan as well as the difficulty in getting standard MoonSwatches. I wonder if this will eventually turn off fans of Swatch. It is certainly making me reconsider…

  2. Abraham

    I went to the London store to take a look. Generally speaking, it was clear that the staff members were too few, and were not well-trained.

  3. Mark Lewis-Jones

    It was indeed clever in many ways the first time around. The inability to efficiently manage this subsequent launch has relegated it to a tired gimmick.

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