This summer, Mrs. Time Bum asked to borrow a watch. She needed something suitable to wear to the beach and the pool. As you might imagine, I leaped into action, proudly displaying my collection, pulling one after another from the drawer and regaling her with their many exciting features. She was unimpressed. They were all too big, or too expensive, or too ugly. Undeterred, I rattled off several suggestions for purchase but she cut me off. "Really," she said, "all I want is a fun, waterproof watch that I don't need to worry about, like a Swatch."
Swatch? The cheap and cheerful plastic watches from Switzerland? Ok, but for this task, not just any Swatch will do. The water resistance of most of their models is only 30m. You can get away with immersing one of those for a while, but if you are buying a watch for the express purpose of swimming and water sports, you can do better. Like their amusingly named Scuba Libre.
The Serifos SUU0100 model Mrs. Time Bum chose is a bright tangerine with a rich blue dial and bezel. Like most Swatches, it is has a plastic case, quartz movement, and an exposed battery out back. You can unscrew it yourself, or take it to any Swatch Store for a free replacement. Unlike other Swatches, the Scuba Libre line is rated for 200m water resistance.
It is not a small watch. Those of us who grew up with the 34mm Original Gents model will be shocked at its girth. The company site lists it only as "L" but that is an understatement. The case is 44mm wide and a whopping 16.6mm thick. I figured this would kill my wife's interest, but quite the contrary, she quickly fell for it.
I snagged it for a day and found it fit me quite well. The watch may be big, but it is relatively short from lug-to-lug (49mm) and lighter than a jellyfish fart. I liked the bowed sides, rounded lugs, and soft shape of the case back. It has a marvelously organic quality, but the crisp edge on the top side prevents it from looking too bulbous.
We discovered that many models in the Scuba Libre line were busy and hard to read, which is the very opposite of what you need in a dive watch, but I suspect the target buyer is more likely to choose this watch for fashion, not function. Mrs. Time Bum wanted both, so Serifos was the best pick. The lovely dark metallic dial pops against the orange case. Small white markers, white-on-black arrow hands, and a light blue second hand provide high contrast. The layout is simple and open with plenty of breathing room. It is a slick, shimmery look that is very satisfying and easy to read. There is some lume on the hands, but not much. The glow is nothing to write home about and fades quickly.
The wide bezel is a matching blue color with raised orange and white markers. It dwarfs the small dial, which is a bit unusual, but I find it rather appealing. The action is positive, moving through the detents with solid clicks, little effort, and without any slop or back play. The push-pull crown is 7.5mm, which is a proper proportion for the case and easy to operate. Like the case and bezel, it is made from blue plastic.
Typical of Swatch, the Serifos comes on a proprietary strap composed of soft synthetic rubber that matches the orange case, textured with vertical ribs and secured with a plastic buckle. We found it to be quite comfortable, which is a good thing because you can only swap it with another Swatch strap.
I had modest expectations for the Scuba Libre. Although I have fond memories of the Swatch Gents I wore back in the day, I am not a great fan of plastic cases, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed wearing this one. Swatch has managed to deliver a cool, stylish, and functional diver's watch with bags of charm. Best of all, it sells for just $90. Given its weak lume and the absence of a screw-down crown, I'd be hesitant to take it on a deep dive, but I would not think twice to take it on more common aquatic adventures. The Serifos is cheap, useful, and unapologetically bold. For under $100, it is hard to resist.
Pro: Wild style, high water resistance for the price.
Con: Poor lume.