This portrait focuses on an exciting independent Swiss brand that has enough history to warrant an article in itself. The founder and namesake, Heinrich Moser, was a Renaissance man who had business ventures across Europe and as far away as St. Petersburg. In fact, the Russian city was where he initially established H. Moser & Cie. in 1828. At the time, the 24-year-old watchmaker was living in Russia and building his own watches in addition to supplying movements to other companies, such as Fabergé. A year after establishing the company in St. Petersburg, Moser opened a factory in Le Locle, Switzerland to support his Russian business. The workshop produced watches exclusively for the European and Russian markets, but this is just the beginning of H. Moser & Cie.’s story.
Moser returned to his hometown of Schaffhausen, Switzerland in 1848. Already a wealthy businessman, he became something of an industrial pioneer. Moser opened workshops for watch parts and built a dam and turbine in the Rhine River to support his industrial ventures. During the Russian Revolution, H. Moser & Cie. was expropriated, but business was flourishing in Switzerland. This continued until the late 1970s when, like so many others, H. Moser & Cie. fell victim to the quartz crisis. However, in 2005, after more than 25 years of hibernation, the brand was relaunched in Schaffhausen, the canton where it all began. New facilities were built and production started again. H. Moser & Cie.’s watchmakers got busy developing new parts and creating timepieces that would go on to win prestigious awards like the Grand Prix of the GPHG. In 2012, the Meylan family acquired the brand and a new chapter in H. Moser & Cie.’s near-200-year history began.
I sat down with Edouard Meylan, the company’s CEO, last fall during Dubai Watch Week. Edouard is a young, charismatic professional who understands the ins and outs of the industry. We did not know then what 2020 would have in store for us, and Edouard was very optimistic about the brand’s future. A lot has happened since then, but H. Moser & Cie. has still managed to keep interest up with some new releases – the perfect example being their collaboration with another industry giant, MB&F. The two timepieces that were born of this partnership are the perfect blend of both companies’ DNAs.
When I asked Edouard about trends and where he thinks the watch industry is heading, he answered without hesitation, “My feeling right now is that the big thing is data – how to better use it and master CRM.” According to H. Moser & Cie.’s CEO, it is essential to connect with customers as directly as possible. After all, there is no better way to shape the end consumer’s opinion about a product than direct communication from the brand – and Moser does it properly. Their social media presence is not vastly different from other watch companies, but it is of a consistently high quality. In the past, the brand also launched a few somewhat controversial but very entertaining campaigns to promote their more outlandish products. Examples of such campaigns include the Mad Watch made of Swiss cheese and the Swiss Icons Watch, a timepiece blending the most iconic features of legendary Swiss brands.
Such a forward-thinking approach made me wonder who or what inspires the men and women at H. Moser & Cie. What drives them? “The automotive and tech industries are influential but more from a communication and technology standpoint,” answered Edouard. In a sense, H. Moser & Cie. produces luxury timepieces that are ahead of the curve and setting trends rather than following them. And I must say, they are doing a good job. As mentioned above, the brand is very strategic with their social media. Edouard Meylan explains it as follows: “For us, targeting your customers with communication and social media is very important.” We are living in an era in which most communication (PR, advertisements, or otherwise) is done over the internet, and Moser has successfully adapted to this.
Finally, we have to look at the most important aspect of any watch company: the timepieces themselves. H. Moser & Cie.’s lineup consists of five collections. The Endeavour and Pioneer are likely the two most recognizable models. The Swiss Alp watch is reminiscent of another popular product from a tech giant. Remember what Edouard said about drawing inspiration from tech companies? The Venturer and Heritage models are inspired by H. Moser & Cie. pocket watches from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While the case shapes of various models may differ, a common feature of most H. Moser & Cie. timepieces is the fumé dial, which often does without the logo or any other text, for that matter. This make Moser watches easily recognizable and also puts the attention on the actual product rather than the brand name. It’s a bold move from a company that creates luxury products, but it seems to be working in H. Moser & Cie.’s favor.