Is this the timepiece that time forgot? Discover the unexpected story behind the Swatch Sweet Baby GL107.
My mother’s vanity drawers are a treasure trove of unopened perfume bottles and knots of costume pearls indistinguishable from the knots of real pearls. Her vast and eclectic jewelry collection consists of vintage brooches, glass-blown pendants, and handmade macaroni necklaces, courtesy of her two adoring children. One time while I rummaged through her vanity, I discovered a vintage Swatch watch in the back of the bottom drawer. But this was by no means your average watch.
The band features roughly 15 images of babies’ heads with varied facial expressions ranging from wailing to dumbfounded-ness. The heads are superimposed onto a kitschy patterned grid. The same images make up the face of the watch, each designated to a slice of the circle which has been cut into sixths. The case is 31 mm with an exposed case back. The Swatch watch was released in 1997 under the name of “Sweet Baby GL107”. My mother has always had a knack for quirky accessories, frequenting galleries and flea markets in search of her next favorite piece, but even this was eccentric for her.
When I showed her the watch, she laughed as if she all of a sudden remembered the punchline to a joke. I often tried to convince my mom to let me keep the clothing and jewelry I found while rummaging through her closest. This watch was no exception.
Swatch watches were all the rage in the 90s. Quartz watches were dominating the market and companies like Swatch and G-force treated their watches like collectable trend pieces rather than investments. Swatch frequently released limited edition styles, often collaborating with different artists, including Keith Haring creating a Supreme drop effect. Keep in mind this was before people had cell phones attached to them at all times. My mother bought the watch at a Swatch store not too long after my older brother was born and around the time she was trying again for another child. Twenty-four or so years later, the once clear band has yellowed with age.
“When you are a new mom, it kind of becomes your identity”, she explained, “but I was proud that I had both a career and a baby, I guess that’s why I bought it. It was sort of an inside joke with myself – reclaiming the fact that I was the lady in the office with a baby.” She explained how it reminded her of her favorite achievement every time she looked down. Well, my favorite achievement until she gave birth to me, of course.
My mother briefly retired her Rolex in favor of her amusing and slightly unnerving baby watch. Perhaps, this was her way of visually communicating that she not only owned being a working mom in the 90s but was proud of it. And she alone would define what that looked like.
For me, a childless 22-year old, the watch takes on an entirely different context. I am reminded of my mother’s good humor when I wear it. I can’t help but imagine her giggling to herself every time someone noticed the watch in a business meeting or at the office.