— With its habit of springing beautiful surprises and displaying a subtly impertinent approach to watchmaking, H. Moser & Cie. is becoming a firm favourite among those who are tired of boringly conventional watchmaking.
“Still waters run deep” would be a somewhat simplistic way of describing the Manufacture H. Moser & Cie, but it is still tempting. It is hard to imagine a company less “still” in the sense of motionless than Manufacture H. Moser & Cie. For devotees of beautiful independent watchmaking, it is regarded as “the Patek Philippe of Schaffhausen”, producing much-coveted objects reserved for an audience of insiders. Except that the Geneva-based firm produces 55,000 timepieces per annum, compared with 1,000 by H. Moser & Cie. Confidentiality is not proclaimed, it is demonstrated – “very rare” as H. Moser & Cie. go so far as to say about themselves. Today, the gap between the two firms is about as broad as their respective renown. But this 2015 Baselworld vintage might well prove a game-changer.
High speed and high drama
Firstly because Edouard Meylan, company CEO and the mastermind behind its fresh start, showed himself extremely quick off the mark by becoming the first watch industry voice to be publicly raised against the Swiss National Bank’s January 15 decision to scrap the Swiss franc’s pegging to the euro. This from a man who is not a spokesperson for a group, and from entrepreneur who is not merely the manager of an entity that is but a milestone along his career path. H. Moser & Cie is still a vulnerable gem, and this blow from the SNB could seriously damage it. Where some are playing for dividends, H. Moser & Cie is playing for its survival, or at the very least, a chance to continue its development.
And secondly, because the models presented in Basel once again embody the very essence of H. Moser & Cie: a brand that is full of life, secrets, boldness and even impertinence. The case of its Endeavour Perpetual Calendar, its bestseller, is representative of this attitude and now comes in a ‘funky blue’ livery – the same light blue that was already used on a special series with small seconds.
It appears solidly lashed to a distressed-look vintage strap such as one might be more liable to find on globetrotting watches. The result creates a surprising offbeat effect – somewhat like a countess wearing work boots. Nothing like this has ever been seen before and that in itself ensures instant universal approval. The Manufacture has already begun presenting it to some handpicked brand aficionados and the happy few have already reserved theirs. “H. Moser & Cie., very rare” has never been so true.
A one-of-a-kind model and another that is… anonymous
But as Baselworld wouldn’t be the ball that is expected without its talking pieces, H. Moser & Cie presented a Venturer Tourbillon GMT Automatic Skeleton with a sapphire crystal case and dial. The model launched by the brand will be a limited edition of one… “Yes, it will be for sale” says Edouard Meylan, “but for a high price and there will only be one, especially with a bracelet like that”. Very rare? Extremely rare!
Happily, a version in red gold will follow hot on its heels, in a ‘generous’ 20-piece run. And the latest Venturer model will be launched as an unlimited collection: a small seconds version with a white gold case and white lacquered dial bearing Roman numerals and blue hands. Coming from a Manufacture that has (re)invented smoky dials in shades of gold, grey, brown, chocolate brown and blue, we really shouldn’t be surprised. This new white variant nevertheless treats the Venturer to a completely different face. Edouard Meylan, CEO, confides that the enthusiastic reception it has enjoyed means this new interpretation will probably become “a new line of dials”.
A “No Name” watch has also been favourably received. This is the term used in industrial circles to refer to prototypes that have not yet been given a name, much less had it placed on their dials. H. Moser & Cie’s “No Name” is therefore a piece with no markings whatsoever – not even a name: it’s “a Moser” and that is quite enough.
It’s a simple enough exercise but one that is proving incredibly effective, because anyone who sees the model instantly recognises the Moser touch, despite the absence of name, logo and even hour-markers. Which all goes to prove, de facto, that true luxury is not about the name of a brand or a marketing package, but instead a matter of authentic identity and veritable know-how. A truly ingenious and incredibly convincing move.
New audiences… and a new line?
Parallel to this, H. Moser & Cie is determined to captivate new audiences. Without going so far as reaching out to sports-watch enthusiasts, the Manufacture is wooing fans of ‘casual’ with a new Venturer Small Seconds featuring a slate-grey dial framed by a white gold case.
There is also a nod to ladies. “We have been asked to introduce ladies’ collections for a long time now,” admits Edouard Meylan. His response here is also a 38.8 mm pink gold Small Seconds with a gem-set bezel, smoky grey dial and satin strap. This model will be part of the permanent collection.
Finally, rumour has it that the brand’s third collection, after the Venturer and the Endeavour, is ready. Edouard Meylan had already revealed its name, as well as the date it will be officialised: Pioneer, in 2016. H. Moser & Cie may thus be almost a year ahead of its calendar, demonstrating the solid foundations on which the Manufacture’s growth is being built. There also whispers of a model with a sweep-seconds hand, and a new movement which might also have its own chronograph, or even its own perpetual calendar. For further information, let’s hope we don’t have to wait… for very long.