Bye Swatch Paparazzi

december 7, 2004

During my trip with my wife to New York the week of Thanksgiving I got a look at Swatch's Paparazzi watch. It was a pretty cool watch when I saw it there in the Swatch store in Times Square. It was so cool that it convinced me to try out the MSN Direct watch, which I had torn up in a previous post. But, it was not convincing enough to get me to drop the $150 in Manhattan to pick it up. It was only last week, after doing some research that I plunked down the cash (actually credit card) to pick up the Orange version of the watch. And tomorrow the watch goes back to the Swatch store at Valley Fair (my wife Eileen is actually doing the return since I am on a business trip in Phoenix, AZ). Did I not like the MSN Direct service? Surprisingly enough, the service is actually quite cool if you take it for what it is: A headlines broadcasting service and not some sort of communication service. No, there are a few reasons why I am returning the watch. The biggest reason is the uncomfortable watch band. Because the antenna for MSN Direct has to be integrated into something, most manufacturers integrate it into the watch band. Only one manufacturer currently integrates it into the watch faces and that is Suunto. Swatch integrated the antenna into the band and that big ole piece of metal in the band makes it very uncomfortable because it does not bend to the correct shape. Instead of making an oval shape that forms with the wrist, it is an oval shape that goes up and down. That makes wearing the watch really uncomfortable because the sides of the wrist band pinch into the side of the wrist and the top and bottom of the band have big gaps. And the band does not want to bend into the correct shape because of the integrated antenna. Another note on the band is that if you have a smaller wrist, you'll have to actually cut off pieces of rubber for the band to fit your wrist -- my wrist is big so it fit out of the box. One of the features that only the Swatch Paparazzi has is the "special" Swatch messages that inform you of special events and such. These messages come into the messages channel and random times -- for me it was annoyingly always arriving at 6:30am, which always woke me up rudely from bed. Now that would not be so bad if one of actually opt out of these messages, but you can't! These messages were mostly promos for VH1 and MTV shows, which after a while got boring since I am not a VH1 or MTV follower. And as much as orange maybe the next yellow, it is not too professional of a color for a watch. I would have limited wearing time with this watch since it stood out like a toy watch from a Burger King kid's meal box. All is not bad though. The alarm on the watch is surprisingly loud. Though, the loud alarm coupled with VH1/MTV alerts that happen in early morning made for a very grouchy Mookie who ended up turning off the alarms totally. The Paparazzi is only one of a few SPOT watches that are waterproof. And finally the buttons on the thing were really responsive and easy to push. It seems that Swatch did not flub the watch too bad, but what they did flub up is enough to convince me to return the thing. It is too bad that they decided to do what they did with the band. That was really the deal killer. I now have my Suunto n3 and it is a much better watch. It originally sold for $299, but I got that awesome deal on eBay and got it for $99, which makes it really worth the money. The antenna for the n3 is integrated into the face of the watch and the band on the n3 is very comfortable. I'll write more on the n3 soon, after I have used it more.