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H. Moser & Cie goes big on simplicity

How an independent watch brand is raising its profile by keeping its designs understated.

With an H. Moser & Cie watch, what you see is not necessarily what you get. And that’s a good thing. Take, for instance, the Swiss brand’s award-winning Endeavour Perpetual Calendar.

Unlike many other perpetual calendars, its dial isn’t covered with day, date and month subdials. Instead, the only indication that it is a perpetual calendar watch – aside from a big date window – is a little arrow pointing to the hour indexes, which double as month indicators.

Smiling wryly, the company’s CEO, Edouard Meylan, notes: “Some people say, ‘It’s a bit expensive for a big date’. They don’t know that it’s actually a perpetual calendar – and a well-priced one.” While it may elude the casual watch buyer, this ingeniously elegant engineering is a major reason why this small, independent manufacture has earned the respect of its industry peers, not to mention the deep loyalty of its fans.

Indeed, the potential reactions of the brand’s “passionate” enthusiasts were foremost on Meylan’s mind when he and his team presented the new Venturer collection at major Swiss watch fair Baselworld last year. It was, after all, the first collection he would be presenting after being appointed CEO in 2013, shortly after MELB Holding acquired the financially troubled brand. Along with Hautlence, H. Moser & Cie is currently run by MELB Holding, a company founded by Georges-Henri Meylan – Edouard’s father, and former Audemars Piguet CEO.

Meylan recalls the thoughts that plagued him: “Were people going to say, ‘It’s not Moser’? But (reception) was very positive.” Not that there was much cause for worry in the first place, we reckon.

Featuring “sixties, neo-vintage” influences, the Venturer watches feature details like a curved sapphire glass and a curved dial with graduated colour – charmingly distinctive updates on the brand’s simple and sophisticated designs.

Additionally, watches like the Venturer Tourbillon Dual Time, the company’s first tourbillon timepiece, perpetuates its tradition of “smart solutions”. As with H. Moser’s perpetual calendar, one of its key functions is not immediately obvious: The additional red hour hand that indicates a second time zone can be easily hidden from view when not required.

While Meylan reveals that the company “is still losing money”, he is confident that it is on track to break even this year – a turnaround that has been achieved by increasing production efficiency, among other factors. Aside from the obvious goal of making it profitable, Meylan has a strong vision for H. Moser: “We don’t want to be a traditional, dusty brand. We want to be a traditional, sexy brand.”