I must admit to having an odd relationship with H. Moser & Cie. It is a brand I have always loved, but oftentimes more because of the brand than the watches themselves. I mean this as a compliment as it comes from a man who regards himself as squarely product-focused. It helps, of course, that I also either love or respect the watches Moser makes, but it is telling that this brand, perhaps beyond all others in my estimation, receives a boost for the cut of its jib.
And let me tell you, Moser’s jib is cut in an incredibly self-effacing shape. Here is a brand that has produced Haute Horlogerie timepieces that comfortably command five-figure — even six-figure — sums, and yet feels comfortable poking fun at its industry, its “competitors”, and itself.
Cheesy but all in good taste
Who can forget the legendary cheese watch? It was magnificently awful and an unqualified success. Somehow, despite producing a watch case made from resin-infused cheese and charging a million francs for it, the stunt was weirdly palatable. One of the things I am most thankful for in our industry is the fact there are customers for this kind of watch. It keeps things interesting and makes fun of a cost ceiling that is so high it often seems to have no character at all.
And then there is the Swiss Alp concept. Or, in other words, the Apple watch that isn’t. The familiar case shape deliberately apes the watch that threatened/threatens to derail the watch industry but outfits it with a sumptuous mechanical movement, finished with Moser’s typical style and flair.
Saving the best till last
Everything Moser is doing right now seems to resonate with me. I’ve gone on record multiple times anointing the Streamliner as a modern classic (despite it not even being my favorite watch from Moser — I like these Swiss Alp models and the Endeavor series if you were wondering). These humorous, tongue-in-cheek statement pieces and the ultimate “baller buy”. I mean, talk about stealth wealth. A white gold Omega is, even if mistaken for steel, still an Omega. Here, the likelihood is that your H. Moser & Cie. masterpiece will be mistaken for a cheap electronic gadget. And a faulty one at that…
Why faulty? Because this watch’s screen is always loading thanks to the titillating sub-seconds disc. It really is a fantastically-realized idea. I had this one on my wrist way back in August 2020 at the Geneva Watch Days event and it was truly spectacular to behold.
So how does it manage to ape that distinctive Apple-Watch-look so effectively? Well, it’s all thanks to Vantablack. Vantablack is a borderline magical substance that absorbs all of the light around it. It is, effectively, the blackest paint since black paint dressed up as a black hole for Halloween and hid in a dark alley, hoping to scare green and blue as they walked past.
“This idea was conceived by a customer and friend of the brand, a true enthusiast and fan of the Swiss Alp Watch collection. He came to visit us with an extremely precise design and we immediately wanted to create this model, perfectly in line with our philosophy, with a touch of humor and a hint of provocation”, explains Edouard Meylan, CEO of H. Moser & Cie.
Reference 5324-1205 measures 38.2 x 44mm, and is 10.5mm thick. The stainless steel case is DLC coated and the hands are blackened to fade into the deep, Vantablack display. Powering this tour de force is the hand-wound HMC 324 manufacture caliber, which has a minimum power reserve of four days.
Give me joy in my heart
I think I’m a lot less straitlaced than I used to be. I have this vague memory of being a bit of a conservative bore when I was younger. It isn’t immediately clear to me whether I’ve invented this past persona or not, but I can say this with certainty: that man, were he ever alive, is now dead.
Maybe it’s age. Maybe it’s 2020. Heck, maybe it’s something to do with the fact 2021 is starting to look a lot like 2020. Or maybe I’ve just chilled out a bit and am better able to understand what makes the finer things in life so fine — they make you smile.
I think happiness is the biggest luxury I can think of. I wish I had more of it. In fact, I realize now (through pieces like this) that I crave happiness more than I crave the watches I expect to deliver it to me themselves. Things like this Swiss Alp from H. Moser or something like a Wristmon from Konstantin Chaykin are really very effective tools of luxury. Yes, they may express extreme wealth and/or status to an onlooker, but they operate on an actually important level: they bring their wearer joy. It is a private joy. A quiet joy. And that, in my opinion, is worth all the money in the world. If you want to own it, however, set aside €27,000 of your own. It is available from the brand’s partners or via its e-commerce platform.