The Poor Man’s Piaget

Photograph by Michael Pirrocco

Watches may not be as essential as they were in the days before mobile phones took over as the main way we stay on schedule, but Swiss-made timepieces remain the ones to beat in terms of quality, design, and luxury. Unfortunately, many of us still can’t afford a real Rolex or Piaget, which is why we’re big fans of the Swatch. First launched in 1983 as Switzerland’s affordable option to counteract the influx of low-priced quartz watches from Asia, the shock-resistant, unibody Swatch has since grown into – and remained – one of the most recognized timepieces in the world. The Swatch line offers everything from basic watches in primary colors to touchscreen models to full-fledged originals designed by artists like Keith Haring and Moby – each costing anywhere from $40 to $300, though certain limited edition ones fetch far more on eBay and vintage e-tailers like

In honor of its 30th anniversary this year, Swatch has been releasing retro-style models, many of which are inspired by its classics from its last 30 years. One such watch is the Roland Garros Bleue, a limited edition version of the Dark Rebel. Part of the Swatch Original New Gent Collection – so named because it’s an updated, larger version of the sophisticated, masculine Gent collection that the company launched with back in the Eighties – the tennis-themed model we’ve been wearing has a dark solid blue body with slim orange lines for time markings, white-and-black hands, and the famed French tennis stadium‘s logo on one end of the band. We were originally drawn to it because of its fun-but-elegant color combinations and minimalist Swiss-railway-clock design remind us of the GB101 we bought and wore back in the 1980s.

Though currently out of stock on the Swatch website, the Roland Garros Bleue is still available on and in some of Swatch’s brick-and-mortar stores (we found ours at a random Grand Central Station location recently). It’s also always worth a search on eBay (albeit at a premium). If you can’t find it, the Dark Rebel is essentially the same watch and features all the same subtle eye-turning visual elements in slightly different color combinations, albeit without the French Open stadium’s logo. (It’s also $5 less.)

We’ve been stopped and complimented on our Roland Garros Bleue more than a handful of times, something that only happens with similarly stylish “budget” items from other affordable style centers like H&M and Zara (not to be confused with Gap or Banana Republic, whose clothes never elicit compliments). In other words, limited edition or not, this Swatch Original New Gent looker is guaranteed to impress and pairs as nicely with a dark blue suit as it does while playing tennis with your boss (and since it’s made of plastic with a silicone band, it can easily wiped clean with a damp cloth or Windex-soaked paper towel). [$75, Roland Garros Bleue,; $70, Dark Rebel,]

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