H. Moser & Cie.: Interview with Edouard Meylan10 January 2022
Edouard Meylan has been breathing watchmaking since his birth in 1976. His family has been linked to the industry for generations and his path has been traced since his birth. However, Meylan has developed a new and disruptive vision of watchmaking, today embodied into the timepieces of H. Moser & Cie., of which he has been CEO since 2013. He is one of the watchmaking managers who, in our opinion, has clearer ideas about industry, product and marketing: this is why interviewing him is always a pleasure as well as, of course, an opportunity to have a different and stimulating point of view.
You have come a long way from watches made of cheese, Swiss herbs or the Swiss Icons “Frankenstein Homage” created to send a strong message to the market: how useful have been your “provocations” and how much have you grown up since 2005?
Our communication is opiniated, not provocative. Behind all the models that you mention, there were strong messages. The Swiss Mad Watch, made of cheese, was a symbol to express our concerns regarding the weakness of the Swiss Made label – 60% of the watch components must be of Swiss origin in order to be considered eligible for the Swiss Made label while our creations are over 95% Swiss -, while the Swiss Icons Watch was meant to remind that the product is more important than all the marketing related to the brands. In a unique position linking traditional watchmaking with unexpected designs, product development and brand communications, H. Moser & Cie. is known for taking a clear and decisive stance in the watch industry. Of course, our communication, breaking with conventions, has attracted attention and we have earned in brand awareness. We have grown up and learnt a lot since 2005.
The name of our website is “Watch Insanity” because we love excellent watches but also the ones with a touch of madness, and H. Moser & Cie. is certainly one of them. What can we expect of “Insanity” from you for 2022?
We will be exhibiting at Watches & Wonders Geneva in 2022. There, we will have 2 major launches, plus a unique piece, a kind of concept watch or artistic performance. I cannot say more for now but stay tuned…
Let’s talk about your “trademark”, the “fumé” dial. Now other brands have also started using it, are you thinking of something new or everything will remain as it is?
As I use to say, it is always better to be followed than to be a follower. H. Moser & Cie. is not following trends. We are creating trends. Of course, we will keep the fumé dial, which is our signature, but we also use the Vantablack technology, with a very good success. Apart from this, some of our watches feature enamel dials, so we have quite a vast range of dials. In 2022, we will introduce a new dial, with a technology that we have never used before.
Is there a collection that embodies your product philosophy more than others?
Endeavour, Streamliner, Pioneer and Heritage are our four pillars. All these lines are strong and embody our brand philosophy, featuring very ingenious technical characteristics, a minimalistic approach and our know-how. They all have their own personality, they all are Moser.
The logo disappears, the watch remains: watchmaking wins over marketing. It’s a very strong concept: do you think that the market and enthusiasts have understood it?
Yes, they have. Our logo disappears in front of the beauty of our watches. With our Concept watches, we wanted to highlight the know-how, to show that there are people behind our watches and not only a branding and a logo. We also wanted to demonstrate that real luxury is recognizable even without logo. Our watches speak for themselves. They are our canvas, so we do not need to sign them. People have understood this message. On the markets where we are strong, our customers don’t need to show anything. They are looking for timeless and elegant products.
Speaking about complications, after the Perpetual Calendar, the Cylindrical Tourbillon and the Minute Repeater, what’s next?
H. Moser & Cie. has developed 15 in-house calibers to date. We launched a Dual Time plus date movement in 2021, a chronograph in 2020. We are now concentrating our efforts on the consolidation of our achievements. We are investing in the production tool to continue our growth, slowly but surely.
In recent years, collaborations have certainly been one of the most interesting things in the world of watchmaking. After those with MB&F and Seconde / Seconde, is there something else being prepared?
Yes, we will launch 2 collaborative pieces in 2022.
Going into a more technical aspect, we have seen that some of the new models presented this year, such as the Endeavour, used the Moser double balance spring patented and produced in-house. Can you tell us more about it?
Our sister company, Precision Engineering AG, is producing regulating organs, from hairspring to balance wheels. They produce the modular escapement which we have on most of our movements. They have also developed and produced the cylindrical hairspring that equipped the Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser XMB&F. This represents a unique strength and a key advantage for us. It gives us flexibility and allows us to be totally independent from other big groups.
By now there are more and more brands that deal with pre-owned and you are one of them. Can you explain us how the process of buying back and reselling your watches through your website works?
We do not buy back watches for our CPO platform. We operate more like a kind of depot, putting our customers in touch to facilitate a sale. We have launched our online CPO platform in March 2020. Our aim was to strengthen our relationship with our clients and to meet their expectations in a personalized manner. Our creations are by nature very rare. Due to our exclusive production (about 1500 pieces per year), we can only offer very limited series, with the result that demand far exceeds supply. Through the platform, we want to make it easy for enthusiasts and friends of H. Moser & Cie. to get in touch with us in order to acquire the watch of their dreams, unavailable and sold out on the market, from among a selection of exclusive pieces that have already been worn, all of which have been tested beforehand, restored to perfect condition and provided with a certificate of authenticity and a two-year guarantee. It should be noted that only the series that are no longer part of the current catalogue are for sale.
In recent years, the watch market has literally “flown”! Thanks to that, independent brands finally are enjoying the success they deserve. We often hear about parallel market and his logical consequence… have you ever thought about blockchain technology to track your watches or some other system to try to stem this problem?
We use a strong sales tool, which allows us to follow the watches on the market. We are very careful on what is going on and we always try to keep track of the watches. Blockchain is a very interesting technology, with a huge potential. We are exploring various solutions at the moment.
By Davide Passoni