January 28 2011
Lucia van der Post
Swatch, the cool-as-ice Swiss watch brand, has had the sort of idea that is so brilliantly practical and so simple that one only wishes one had known about it years ago – to wit, it has come up with a way of embedding a chip in a watch, the Chrono Plastic Snowpass, that functions as a ski-pass.
All skiers will know what a hassle ski-passes are. There are the times one has lost them (it’s not just the money but the hassle, too), and then there are the minutes one loses fumbling to find them when encumbered with skiing paraphernalia. Admittedly the arm-band and necklace versions were a great improvement, but for sheer chic and ease of usage the Swatch Snowpass beats them all.
Swatch has been doing versions of the Snowpass watch for some years but for some reason has kept awfully quiet about it until now. All the watches in the range are fitted with a microchip onto which the day, week or season ticket can be loaded (at a ski station or on the Snowpass website), and by merely flashing the watch, gates or turnstiles are automatically opened.
The microchip works independently of the battery so even if the battery runs out the microchip carries on. Should you lose the watch, because each one has its own laser-engraved identification number, you can have the ski-pass stopped.
The watches are pretty nice to look at and wear, too. They’re sturdy and functional, perfect for the slopes. Mister Twin (first picture) has a splendid black rubber strap, a black face with a clear dial and a stop-watch function and sells for £78.50. There’s also a Snow Kiss version (second picture), which was the winning design for a Swatch Snowboard design contest and is differentiated by having a white dial and some smacking red lipstick marks on its black strap (£78.50).