It’s a Friday night in Tokyo, and the line outside 1 Oak is thick with designer sneakers and vape smoke. Recent guests here have included Future, A$AP Rocky, and Tyga, but tonight’s headliner isn’t a celebrity DJ or a rapper, it’s a watch. In the current era of fashion, any new release can live and die according to the hype surrounding its drop, and the speed with which a collection is snapped up by rabid fans. To this end, Swatch has organized events at half-a-dozen venues around Tokyo for tonight’s launch: a line of watches co-designed by Japanese streetwear brand A Bathing Ape (or BAPE, as it’s commonly known). After moving through a British manor where diamond-encrusted BAPE pendants sit under glass like crown jewels, a French chateau complete with burlesque dancers, and an NYC-style pizza joint blasting ’80s hip-hop, a fashionably eclectic mix of guests from around the world have converged on 1 Oak for the grand reveal.
Collabs may be de rigeur in streetwear, but they’re still an anomaly in the world of Swiss watches. Swatch, however, has never been one to follow the herd, and collaboration has been in its DNA ever since it tapped American pop artist Keith Haring to design a collection in 1985. The latest in this longstanding tradition are six fashion-forward watches blending Swatch’s signature colourful quirkiness with BAPE’s unique streetwear sensibility. An extension of Swatch’s new BIG BOLD line, these oversized 47mm timepieces pay tribute to five global cities — London, Paris, Bern, Tokyo and New York —with the sixth, a global edition, emblazoned with a world map across its face. Featuring BAPE’s trademark camo print in a range of colours, and its Planet of the Apes-inspired logo on the tip of the hour hand, this is a watch made with hypebeasts in mind.