< H. MOSER & CIE >
The Perpetual Calendar from H. Moser & Cie is among the few that can be easily adjusted using the crown alone and allegedly without the need for reading instructions, writes Hiren Kumar Bose
A visit to the world’s biggest jamboree of watches holds many surprises, if you’re really looking for them. In search of surprises we often seek out venues where the non-BaselWorld brands display their creations and this took me to the adjacent Ramada Hotel which was hosting some new and some not-so-new brands. Here we stumbled upon H. Moser & Cie.
H. Moser & Cie has been attracting a lot of attention, thanks to a string of awards. In 2010 the Schaffhausen-based brand’s Endeavour Perpetual Calendar won the Golden Balance after over 10,000 people voted for it as the best watch in the $25,000 category. In 2006 it won the Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Genève.
Who was H. Moser?
Born in 1805, Heinrich Moser belonged to a family of watchmakers. His father, Erhard was the town watchmaker and as was the tradition then, the son was appointed the town watchmaker on the father’s death. However, it didn’t happen in the case of Heinrich.
Having learnt the basics of watchmaking from his father, at the age of 19 Heinrich left Schaffhausen for Italy but took a detour and settled at Le Bas- Monsieur, near La Chaux-de-Fonds to further his training as an apprentice watchmaker. In November 1827, he left for St. Petersburg via Germany. Having established H. Moser & Cie. in St. Petersburg in 1828, his timepieces were in demand. In 1829, only 13 months after Heinrich’s arrival in St. Petersburg, his father died in Schaffhausen but he was denied the position of the town’s watchmaker which left him distraught. Heinrich’s exquisite creations graced the arms of Russian princes and members of the Imperial Court. In fact, most Fabergé table clocks were equipped with H. Moser movements. With this success, Heinrich Moser established a manufacturing site in Le Locle, drawing on contacts made during his time there. Moser Watches were most sought after as far as Persia and China. Moser finally left St. Petersburg in May 1848 to return to Switzerland and set up his company headquarters in his hometown.
The brand was acquired by the Dixi Mechanique Group during the Quartz Crisis and later revived in 2005. H. Moser & Cie. received investments and invaluable experience in late 2012 from the Meylan family through MELB Holding and was joined by CEO Edouard Meylan in April 2013. Since then, the company has embarked on a journey of innovative products and fresh ideas, whilst taking care not to lose the essence of what makes H. Moser watches truly special and very rare.
Based in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, it currently employs 50 people, has eight of its own calibres and produces 1,000 watches per annum. This year, the company revealed two new movements: Calibre HMC 327 with a small seconds function and Calibre HMC 802 (post BaselWorld) which features the state-ofthe- art Straumann Double Hairspring® further improving the accuracy and isochronism of the new in-house manufacture movement.
PERPETUAL CALENDAR BLACK EDITION
The dark elegance of the Perpetual Calendar Black Edition is the first in a series of developments from H. Moser & Cie. that are both exceptional and very rare. The in-house perpetual calendar is one of the most innovative yet user-friendly complications ever produced. And its technical pedigree: the Perpetual Calendar was awarded a prize as the best complicated watch at the Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Genève for this combination of ground-breaking features. This unique movement not only marks time by adjusting for leap years and the different number of days in certain months but the Flash Date Calendar also harnesses the energy to switch the date accurately in a fraction of a second. The month indication is a further mastery of understatement, using the hour indices to mark the months with a small third hand shaped like an arrow. Finally, this is one of the few perpetual calendars that may be adjusted forward and back at any time of day. With the Perpetual Calendar Black Edition, H. Moser & Cie. ventures into new territory. The Manufacture explored high-tech materials to complement its collection in gold and platinum. Titanium was chosen for its exceptional mechanical properties. It is very hard, easy to wear, hypoallergenic and extremely light. It also brings a unique urban yet timeless black finish to the watch that puts a focus on form and perfect surfaces.
The case and pin-buckle clasp are titanium with a DLC treatment. Even the extrusions of the Moser “M” on the crown are purely etched from this hard metal and finished immaculately. The dial’s black surface is punctuated by rose gold indices and hands, enhancing both the timeless character of the watch and the legibility. The off-centre seconds dial reveals impeccable gold accents, marking time with a hacking seconds function. The matte black finish on the movement includes a blackened escapement bridge that lets the Moser escapement gleam from within. The mood is continued by the extreme matte finish of the carbon-coated alligator leather band.
The inspiration for this latest collection is the second phase of Heinrich Moser’s professional ventures in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. Established in 1828, H. Moser & Cie. soon attracted the patronage of the Imperial Court. Indeed, Moser quickly built his reputation and saw the watchmaking business that bore his name flourish and become a resounding commercial success.
The Venturer Collection includes an in-house manufacture movement, the Calibre HMC 327. This calibre is characterised by its traditional watchmaking finishing, minimum power reserve of three days and a hacking seconds function. Measuring 32mm in diameter, the Calibre HMC 327 is optimally sized to suit the 39.0mm case of the new Venturer Small Seconds. The HMC 327 has also been designed to sit closely to the exhibition case-back, allowing the wearer to enjoy an intimate view of the fine finishing practised by the Manufacture.
The incorporation of a Hacking Seconds into the watch is an ingenious feature, which enables the watch to be set precisely to the second. The seconds hand remains stationary when the crown is pulled out to adjust the time – and it starts moving again the instant the crown is pushed in, to coincide with a time signal.