“Fashion before Fashion Watches”
The Swatch Tresor Magique is a time piece that represents the peak of the Swatch Watch Companies global influence and illustrates where the watch industry was 10 years after the Swatch revolution began [in 1983]. As you can imagine there isn’t much on the internet from 1993 but here is a short article that discusses a little bit of the history and describes through written word the pictures shown. But we’re not here to talk about the past but rather the present.
Why should you choose the Swatch Tresor Magique? Because no one else will – and that’s a special kind of exclusivity.
I waited and waited and was lucky enough to find my example, in Canada, on auction and from a private seller so I think I ended up happy with my purchase. Keep in mind that mine did not come with the second strap, tool or pins and sourcing swatch pins was annoying to do.
Who’s it for? The Magique flies in the face of tradition and gives the wearer a solid platinum watch at Swiss entry level steel prices. Someone who wants to make a statement with a men’s cocktail watch that has its own unique history and story and that won’t be seen on anyone else’s wrist. This is a fashion piece for the person who bucks the trend and has the strength of will to carry this watch on their wrist. Conversely, the Magique has many qualities that make it a great unisex watch and could make a great option for a woman.
TWC Paid: $1,272.58 CAD (exchanged from $934.74 USD + $22.95 USD Shipping)
|Swatch Watch Company |
Model: Tresor Magique (10-year anniversary)
Reference: SAZ101 (Limited to 12,999 pieces worldwide)
Origin: Switzerland (1993)
Case: 36.5mm Platinum 950 (24.7g of platinum)
Thickness: 11.5mm Lug-to-Lug: 41.9mm Lug Width: 17mm (proprietary)
Movement: ETA 2840-P, 23J (21,600 BPH), 48 Hour Power Reserve, non-hacking, rhodium plated rotor
WR: 3 ATM – 3 Bar – 30m – 99ft
Lume: Yes, Super LumiNova
Strap: Stainless Steel / Leather / Plastic
MSRP: $1619.00 USD (c.1993)
Finding this watch…
How did I come across my Swatch Tresor Magique? Every so often I would check my saved search parameters and one day I finally found one that was on auction from a private seller. I set my limit and at the end I was lucky enough to pick up my example well below market value. If you’ve decided that, for whatever reasons you have, you want a Tresor Magique then you have a few options available to you. Market value on these is typically just above the $2k CAD mark though the “true value” I would estimate is more around $1.5k CAD if you take out seller fees and profit. Regardless you can typically find one with box, papers and at least one of the 2 original straps at any given time for $2k CAD. Now if you’re like me and abhor paying retail and market value then you’re
going to have to wait for a deal to materialize. Keep in mind that if you are importing one, you’ll be looking at paying duties atop of everything else but if you buy from a Canadian eBay “retailer” then you’ll still have pay sales tax. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting with one of these as the original came with the ridiculous metal case, 2 straps, a tool, a pair of pins, papers and plastic cover, outer box and the watch itself.
The Cross Shop:
Costco – As of late the Costco.ca website has had nothing but designer, fashion and low-end watches and there is presently nothing on their website that I can recommend to you. So, if you want the security that shopping at Costco offers then you will have to go into the warehouse and see what they have in stock. Typically, they’ll have some Oris, Frederic Constant and other watches that, if priced competitively, would make be options you could consider.
eBay.com – If you are looking on eBay the first thing you are going to realize is that when you do a search by case material or the word “platinum” you end up with a endless list of cheap watches that have either included the word platinum as a marketing tool or have tagged their $100.00 novelty watch as “platinum” in order to maximize the chances of you seeing their junk products. Either way it’s a HUGE pain and you’ll have to play around with the filters to get it to where you like, or you can click the link I’ve put at the start of this. Usually the first true platinum watch that populates will be a the smaller 35mm versions of the Rolex Yacht-Master followed by the 40mm size. I’ll note that the Rolex Yacht-Master 16622 only has a platinum bezel insert and the newer 116622 still only has a platinum bezel and insert and the remainder of the case is 904L steel, so these are not true platinum watches. Finally, around the $9,000.00 CAD price point you’ll start to run into full platinum case time pieces but you’ll quickly realize that most of these will be in very small sizes around 33-35mm, a range that vendors still classify as men’s sizes.
With all this in mind you have a few options available to you and you can judge them for yourself below. Just keep in mind that these references are typically less expensive because they are in sizes and models that just aren’t in demand and may also be expensive to service. Despite this they are still much closer to the $10k CAD mark than not.
- Audemars Piguet Classique Day Date
- Cartier Ronde Louis Cartier Manual 34mm Platinum Mens Strap Watch W1528051
- TIFFANY&CO. Mark Round Platinum Black Dial Hand winding
- Piaget Governor 950 Platinum Hand Wound Men’s Watch Ref. 15968PT
Rolex – $7,790.00 USD – ROLEX Cellini Cellinium 5240/6 – Although Rolex doesn’t do much in platinum the closest example to the Tresor Magique is the Cellinum 5240. It is a 35mm reference cased in platinum with a second-hand sub-dial and dress watch treatments. This example is from 2001/2 and appears to be in excellent condition and complete with original box, papers and tags. You could of course always look at a much newer platinum Day-Date with ice blue dial but it’s in a dramatically different price point and, more importantly, size and style compared to the Swatch.
It is surreal to think that Swatch watches were really the first true modern day “fashion” watch (feel free to argue otherwise). The Swatch Tresor Magique is a watch that in most respects should be lost to the tides of time. Every aspect of the piece is firmly dated and represents an era of change and vibrant colors coming out of the dinge of the Cold War. The interesting thing is that because of Magique’s combination of modern irrelevance and limited production there is almost nothing written on it that is readily accessible online. Most of what you find in writing is either supporting the sale of a Magique by a store or is a description of the watch and packaging disguised as a “review”. Here is a list of links to the “best” that you’ll find online;
- Quillandpad.com is the only real attempt at an actual discussion on the watch;
- Iconeek.com is really just a sales platform; and
- Horologium.com is a collection of photos with descriptions.
Other than the above you’ll find the occasional thread in a few enthusiast forums and that’s it.
The popularity of Swatch in 1993 cannot be understated and the release of the Magique was such a big deal that Nicolas G. Hayek himself released it in New York. The sensational popularity and relatively limited production numbers meant that these were sold out upon release and people were even invited prior to its release to purchase. Because of this, many copies of the Magique remain locked away, unworn and secure in safes even after 25+ years since it’s release all under the illusion that it might one day become a valuable classic!
Now we could discuss the Swatch phenomenon within pop culture or the impact it had on the watch industry but that is all history, and this is going to be a focused look at the Tresor Magique itself. If you want to own a solid platinum watch at a mere fraction of what any other watch maker will charge, interested in the second most expensive Swatch ever released or just want to know more about a storied time piece then continue reading below.
The presentation for the Magique is absolutely ridiculous, and the entire package could reasonably be weighed in kilograms and pounds it’s so heavy! The dimensions of it are also massive and the giant metal square case is one huge paper weight. Because of the mirror polish of the metal case you’ll find that any mistreatment of the case shows prominently.
Moving past the paperweight, the Magique comes with a cheaply printed paper flip book instruction manual that in photos looks like a shiny “12,999” plastic or metal blok but is just shiny printed paper held within a clear plastic cover. Other than this the rest is of the box is straight forward with a plastic insert for all the accessories.
Back in 1993, before dollars stores and cheap mass production, I expect that this sort of presentation would have been up there with parachute pants. Of course, like rest of the Magique, the packaging today feels dated and far too “90’s”.
I happened to come across an old sales ad that stated that the Tresor Magique has 24.7g of platinum which if sold alone would today be worth at least $1k CAD. The Magique lacks any visual support from traditional lugs and because of this the 36mm+ case wears substantially smaller on your wrist than it should. The reason for this is a combination of the Magique’s hooded “lugs” and “tonneau” case design that give the Magique a retro, rounded look. I suspect Swatch had hoped that the design would give the strap and case a more fluid design and in a way it does, but the overwhelming result is still a small fitting watch.
Like any fashion watch and many dress watches, the Magique offers “water resistant” AKA 30m protection but the unique thing about this is that the stamping to indicate this is located in full printing on the movement. Along with this stamp Swatch has proudly noted that the Magique is PT950 by writing it out along the entire length of the rotor in giant “PLATINUM CASE” along with the serial number. The strange stampings continue but I’ll save them for our discussion on the case back as a whole.
3. Case Back
Like any Swatch watch, the case back isn’t readily removeable though there is a seem so there is a way, but it probably requires the cutting of some sort to gain access to the inside. It does feature an exhibition case back so you can see ETA’s basic automatic movement. Because of how small the case is most of the engravings are strangely placed on parts of the movement instead of the case back itself. There are basic stampings in each of the four corners, so you know the case is PT950, Swiss and ETA but the rest is found all over the movement.
4. Movement / Functions
Curious about the real-world accuracy of the 2840-P? Check out the 2840-P’s performance during my 24-hour Atomic Time Check.
Inside we find the caliber 2840-P, a very simple automatic movement that has a slower heartbeat than it’s more robust and modern sibling, the 2824. It also lacks many of the features that we have come to expect from any mainstream movement such as hacking seconds. From what I’ve read the movement was designed as a cheap automatic specifically for Swatch watches and is designed to be replaced outright upon failure versus serviced and repaired. This makes sense since Swatch watches are not setup for easy access. Despite the cheapness of the movement it is still unique to Swatch watches and not just another generic ETA which you could consider of benefit if you want to think of the Magique as “exclusive”.
Let’s keep in mind here that this movement has never been serviced, the case never open, since it was produced back in 1993. That’s 26 years of operation as of 2019 and the fact that the movement in my example continues to effectively tick is more, I think an example of how little these are ever actually worn than the robustness of the movement itself.
Swatch insists on using they’re uniquely frustrating 4 “lug” design which means you are either stuck with there limited 17mm catalog of straps or you have to cut slits into a 17mm strap, which is still a strange size on its own. On top of this you also have to use their proprietary pin system which can be loose or tight depending on the bracelet or strap you are mounting. Now I’ve never had one fall out but it’s still a failed design. You’ll also find that hammering in the pins, even with a tiny plastic mallet, is just asking for needless marking of the case and given that this case is in precious metal it can be frustrating getting the pins fully in. As I’ve mentioned my discount version did not have pins and I had to source some from an independent vendor in the EU; thankfully, when you do find them they’re not very expensive and come in multiples.
Unlike the Seiko Presage, the Magique features a crown that not only sits flush with the case but is even give a shallow recess cut into the case and a notch on the back to make it easy for you pull out the tiny crown. Although it’s entirely unremarkable Swatch at least designed their own crown for the Magique instead of opting for the typical turret style found on millions of generic watches throughout history.
7. Bezel & Rehaut
Who needs a bezel to protect a plastic crystal when you could just replace the plastic crystal outright? There is a minimal ring of high polish platinum around the outside of the dial and give the edge of the dial a reflective sheen.
Overall the dial is visually striking and gives the appearance that under it’s artistic design is a complex function of artisanal sun and moon cycle tracking. The reality of course is that it just looks pretty, as is the true function of any “fashion” watch, and really it barely gives you the time. I think that the only reason there is even a second hand here at all is because the designs thought that it would go with the sun and mon theme to have a sweep orb circling around the dial. And let’s be real here, it does.
Starting in the center of the dial we have a small skeletonized section where, if you look closely at it, you can see the escapement working away along with parts of the movement, a great feature of your fancy watch that you can show off to someone if you want to get up close to them. Overlaid atop of that are golden sun/moon rays that continue outward. If you hold the Magique to the side, you should see that these lines are not reflective which is most noticeable when the mirrored surface they rest on is shining. These lines of courses are then surrounded by matte gold stars and a sun/moon, because “magic”. Within this very busy gold ring you’ll find “SWATCH SWISS” written somewhat hidden in the industry standard 6 o’clock position. I guess Swatch didn’t want to be in your face about your precious metal watch being a Swatch.
The inner window is surrounded by a light blue band that you think might be colored lume but is just a light blue ring that does nothing more than add a light color to the dial and seems out of place if you stare at it for too long. Finally, we get to the actual telling of time with the outer ring. Here you’ll find that odd numbers show both the AM and PM time in roman numerals whereas the even numbers indicate just the PM. You’ll also note that this is the only other place you’ll see that light blue color and it’s only at the 12 o’clock. The alternating white and gold numbering adds a contrasting brightness to the dial while keeping the overall look somewhat muted.
There is obviously a lot going on in the dial here, but Swatch successfully created a completely non-functional astronomical appearance with just the dial, and you can’t help but admire what they achieved here.
Hour and minute hands here are golden sword [alpha] hands that feature a soft faceting to help them play with the light. They honestly get lost on the mostly gold background but then again who cares? As we’ve discussed the dial here isn’t about precision time telling!
To match our drowned-out hour and minute hands we have longer Breguet style second hand, with a lume circle on the sweeping end and a smaller gold circle on the opposite end to visually counterbalance it.
Since this is Swatch the reasonable thing for them to do was put lume only on a circle on the second hand like a dive watch would have. I guess if it’s dark you can see that your watch is still working? Or maybe its so in low light conditions it looks like the sun is circling the dial when you show it off at the bar.
The crystal used might be plastic but at least it’s domed plastic that looks good. Be aware that the more you wear the Magique the more likely you will be to acquire scuffing around the crystal. You can always have this buffed out but replacing it outright, like any Swatch watch, will be a problem for you. Thankfully it’s just plastic!
12. Strap / Bracelet
I’ve tried several different straps in different colors and finishes and from my experience if you are trying to make a smaller reference work then try a mesh bracelet. I love my 35mm Tissot Frankin-Seastar regardless of what anyone might say but it to me only works because of the mesh bracelet it sits on. The same is true here and I’ve even managed to import a “new old stock” genuine Swatch mesh bracelet from an eBay seller in the UK. The blue straps you see in every photo outside of this discussion definitely make a bold statement but if you want the Magique to look its best and highlight the beauty of the dial then go metal.
13. Gravitas / On the Wrist
As with most platinum and white gold watches, the Magique hides its precious metal value behind a veil of high polished silver and because of its small proportions it can be lost on the wrist easily. For maximum exposure you’ll want to wear the Magique during social events where people will be expected to make conversation, this way you can either tie it into the conversation or someone can notice and ask you about it. Like any watch in platinum or white gold the Magique does fly much more under the radar when compared to flashy rose and yellow gold casings, and the size of course doesn’t help. Thankfully you have that smashing blue dial that’s brimming with yellow gold shiny bits to rev things up and in a way contrast the otherwise low flying accruements of the case and bracelet. Wearing a fifty-something thousand dollar A.Lange “Dato” is awesome and a great talking alternative to a trinity piece but there is something subtly confident and special about being the guy who is able to sell an elusive super Swatch among such competition.
I would also say as well that the Magique is inclined to be dressed up, not down.
14. The Wife Check
My wife hates the Magique almost as much as the frankin-Seastar so there is no love here. It’s a love it or hate it design that is centered around the creative design concept of the dial. If you want a good laugh read our discussion on the Magique in My Wife’s Take.
The popularity of Swatch in 1993 cannot be understated and the Tresor Magique stands as testament to this period in history. Today however, the Magique stands as any number of things; a reflection of the past, a discount platinum watch, a strangely unique automatic, or a retro-fashion conversation piece. Whatever your perception of the Magique if you are going to chose one to wear then you need to be okay with the size, otherwise you simply won’t wear it. Now if you’re confident in the size on your wrist then the Magique offers you the opportunity to wear a solid platinum cocktail watch that softly screams fashion and history. Now it’s not Patek Phillipe “history” but the Magique along with the Swatch brand have their own special story unlike any other.
What little that has been said online about the Magique will tell you that the fact that 12,999 pieces were produced means that it isn’t really all that limited in the way that limited editions go, but I would say to this is that of those sold how many are ever out in the real world and in someone’s personal rotation? My guess is not many… and that is likely an overstatement…
If you think of this as a $250.00 CAD Swatch Watch encased in an additional $1025.00 CAD of Platinum and powered by a very basic Swiss automatic, then maybe a $1,275.00 CAD price tag for this interesting piece of Swatch history isn’t quite so absurd. To many though the thought of paying thousands for a 90’s Swatch watch that can’t really be serviced is in fact absurd and I can hardly blame them for thinking so. This said any person can buy their way into the finest of haute horology or buy the rarest of vintage pieces at auction but in a sea of Rolex’s and Patek’s the Tresor Magique stands out as a statement in so many ways and I love to explain my choice to any who dare ask me about it.
Why should you choose the Swatch Tresor Magique? Because no one else will – and that’s a special kind of exclusivity.