Simon de Burton

What will the Queen make of Swatch’s Jubilee watch?

What will the Queen make of Swatch's Jubilee watch?
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Despite having to cope with family strife, a partying prime minister, the unctuous musings of BBC Royal Correspondent Nicholas Witchell and, most recently, a bout of Covid, our Queen conducted herself in the only way she knows how during the first two months of her platinum jubilee – with the utmost dignity.

But 'dignified' might not be the first word that springs to mind in regard to a commemorative 'timepiece' launched this month by plastic watch pioneer Swatch.

The £83 effort designed to appeal to the proletariat is decorated with a cartoon Queen flanked by an eager-looking Corgi – and dressed in an outfit that changes from red to yellow to green as the days go by thanks to an adapted cog behind the dial that more usually powers a date display.

Marked around the edge with gold dots to signify each year of the Queen's record-breaking reign, the 'How Majestic' special edition is delivered in a box decorated with the image of a Coldstream Guardsman – and supplied with a 'sparkly, silver-coloured crown'.

It's a far cry from the watch worn by the Queen for her coronation at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953 – a minuscule Jaeger-LeCoultre cocktail number containing a mechanism called the Calibre 101 that, despite having been conceived in 1929, remains the world's smallest mechanical watch movement ever created.Somewhat more sophisticated than the alkaline battery cell that runs the 'How Majestic,' the entirely hand-made 101 comprises 98 components yet measures just 14 mm long by 4.8mm wide and 3.4mm high – meaning it occupies an area of just 0.2 cubic centimetres.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre 100 movement worn by The Queen at her Coronation

Derived from the maker's Duoplan of 1924, another small, highly accurate, two-tier calibre, the 101 opened up a whole new world of design possibilities for women's watches. The old-fashioned idea that it was somehow unseemly for women to be seen checking the time was challenged by coveted models such as the horizontal Etrier and the diamond-set Joaillerie Riviere.

Although the movement has remained in more or less continuous production for almost 90 years, the difficulty of producing something so microscopic means that only a few especially skilled watch makers are capable of assembling a 101, so no more than 50 watches containing it are made annually. The Queen still owns her Coronation 101 and, although the full extent of her watch wardrobe has never been revealed, more than a dozen models featured in a catalogue of her personal jewellery collection published way back in 1987.

Among them was a Vacheron Constantin gifted by the Swiss Federal Council that was subsequently passed on to Diana, Princess of Wales, while visitors to Patek Philippe's 'Watch Art Grand Exhibition' held at London's Saatchi Gallery in 2015 got to see the Queen's personal , diamond set Reference 4875 evening model which she wears on a pearl bracelet.

She also owns a white gold Golden Ellipse by the maker (which supplied Queen Victoria with a pair of pendant watches in around 1850), with Audemars Piguet and Omega pieces also featuring in her collection.

Whether or not a Swatch 'How Majestic' will be joining the line-up is unknown – but if it did, Her Majesty would no doubt wear it with good humour. And dignity.