Dis­rupt­ing the Swiss watch in­dus­try in the best pos­si­ble way

Gulf Business - - LIFESTYLE - By Varun Godinho

SCHAFFHAUSEN-BASED H. Moser & Cie is one of those rare watch brands will­ing to do the out­ra­geous if only to shakeup the sta­tus quo.

For ex­am­ple, in Jan­uary 2015, hours af­ter the Swiss Na­tional Bank re­moved the 1.20 limit peg of the Swiss franc to the euro, H. Moser & Cie’s CEO Edouard Mey­lan fired an open let­ter to pres­i­dent of the na­tional bank threat­en­ing to take his com­pany two kilo­me­tres across the bor­der from its ex­ist­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing site and into Ger­many to con­duct busi­ness un­der the EU’s cur­rency.

Then in 2016, H. Moser & Cie re­leased the Swiss Alp Watch at the height of the manic pe­riod when the Swiss watch in­dus­try was plagued with un­founded fears of the Ap­ple Watch do­ing to it what quartz did to it in the 1980s. The Swiss Alp Watch had the same rec­tan­gu­lar form as the Ap­ple Watch, but clev­erly fea­tured a man­ual wind­ing in-house man­u­fac­tured me­chan­i­cal move­ment.

The fol­low­ing year, it made a one-off $1m Swiss Mad Watch with the case made from real hard­ened Swiss cheese – Meyan was mak­ing a point about the new law, which had come into ef­fect just days ear­lier man­dat­ing that 60 per cent of the value of the watch must come from Switzer­land (up from 50 per cent be­fore the in­tro­duc­tion of the new law) in or­der for a time­piece to carry the 'Swiss-made' la­bel. But H. Moser & Cie, ini­tially founded in 1828 and then re­launched in 2012, isn’t a brand with­out se­ri­ous sub­stance that’s merely out to ride the wave of shock­ing PR tac­tics. This is an in­de­pen­dent brand that makes only about a 1,000 watches an­nu­ally, em­ploy­ing around 55 peo­ple and is a true man­u­fac­ture in ev­ery sense of the word.

If you need proof of its su­perla­tive prow­ess in the field of its watch­mak­ing skill that can give the very best Swiss watch houses a run for their pre­cious francs, take a look at this En­deav­our Fly­ing Hours show­cased at the SIHH ear­lier this year.

Devel­oped along with Haut­lence, it is based on the in-house H. Moser cal­i­bre HMC 200 and fea­tures an or­bital time dis­play that uses three spin­ning hours discs and a cen­tral min­utes disc spin­ning over it.

It has achieved an in­dus­try-first feat in the field of me­chan­i­cal watch­mak­ing. Watch geek alert: It has plan­e­tary gears mounted on star wheels. This al­lows the minute disc to make a 240-de­gree arc. The hour discs, mean­while, are in a fixed po­si­tion on the dial, al­though they ro­tate on their own axis.

It’s such an in­ge­nious take on me­chan­i­cal watch­mak­ing that it earned its place in the men’s cat­e­gory of watches en­tered into this year’s Grand Prix d’Hor­logerie de Genève (GPHG), the an­nual com­pe­ti­tion re­ferred to as the Os­cars of the watch­mak­ing world. The 42mm au­to­matic wind­ing time­piece with a power re­serve of 72 hours is lim­ited to just 60 pieces.

H. Moser & Cie is an agi­ta­tor and a lodestar – the kind the Swiss watch in­dus­try truly needs. Carry on.

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