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How has H.Moser & Cie, a 192-year-old independent legacy brand, become one of the watch industry’s most prominent rising stars? Simple: Since relaunching in 2005, it’s been quick to adapt to the changing tastes of a new generation, keeping collectors on their toes. In many ways, this latest incarnation of the company—whose recent novelties include a tourbillon minute repeater with no hands and another watch made of actual Swiss cheese—is a far cry from the one originally established by Heinrich Moser, in St. Petersburg, Russia, to create high-end timepieces for royals and dignitaries.
And yet, in other ways, H.Moser’s iconoclastic approach aligns perfectly with its storied past. With each new collection, the brand’s entrepreneurial spirit shows more and more. That, combined with a unique history (briefly: expelled by the Bolsheviks, reestablished in Switzerland, consolidated during the Quartz Crisis, reestablished again by Heinrich Moser’s great-grandson) lends a strong identity, a crucial element in today’s luxury collector landscape. The design language is individualistic, conceptual. Even a little sexy.
“When you work with a brand every day, you have no choice but to be polarizing as an independent,” says CEO Edouard Meylan.
For Geneva Watch Days 2020, the Moser language continues to evolve. Its latest introduction, the subtly integrated all-steel Streamliner Centre Seconds, gallantly follows in the footsteps of the self-winding Streamliner Flyback Chronograph, which debuted in January of this year. While the brand is perhaps best known for its pure modern aesthetics, the Streamliner’s integrated bracelet adds a luxurious tactile appeal, a quintessential component for a great steel sports watch. And, like many of Moser’s greatest hits, this timepiece focuses on the essential—the hours, minutes, and seconds—and eliminates the superfluous.
It’s functional, too. The 40mm steel cushion case is water-resistant to 12 ATM (roughly 120 meters), and without lugs, the bracelet is remarkably comfortable and form-fitting. This curvature becomes a defining feature of the Streamliner, the undulating links blending seamlessly with the cushion-shaped case, not unlike the segments of a lobster tail. The articulated links allow for the technically-complex construction of a super flexible bracelet; alternating brushed and polished surfaces, inspired by high-speed trains from the Twenties and Thirties, add to the overall uniformity. A slightly domed sapphire crystal and see-through case back emphasize the unusual shape of the watch itself.
Still, it might be the addition of a Matrix green fumé dial that makes this watch so distinctly Moser. The brilliant colorway picks up shades from olive green to red gold, the results more magical than manufactured. Distinguishing itself by way of outstanding readability, the 3D hands consist of two sections featuring Globlolight, a ceramic-based material containing incandescent SuperLuminova.
“The origin of the fumé dial came from one small collection. It was maybe 5% of our production, but it was unique to the brand,” says Meyland. “Being independent, it enabled us to differentiate ourselves.”
Inside, the watch features a 100% Swiss mechanical movement, designed and developed entirely in-house. The calibre features a regulating organ (balance and hairspring assembly) manufactured by Moser’s sister company, Precision Engineering AG. Visible through the sapphire crystal caseback, the HMC 200 Calibre, decorated with Moser double stripes, highlights a solid gold oscillating weight with a minimum power reserve of three days.
The Streamliner Flyback Chronograph took five years to develop; when it launched in January, H.Moser revealed it was only the first in a series. A stark departure from the rest of the collection, it’s clearly a solid foundation for iteration within an understated lineup. The addition of the Streamliner Centre Seconds is no less bold than its more formal counterparts, but remains unmistakably Moser. No small accomplishment.
“We need to know exactly what our clients will want, but I like to say we don’t want to do that,” Meylan says. “We need to do something that will surprise them.”
What’s next? Meylan isn’t dropping hints, so that’s anybody’s guess. But, if the Streamliner Centre Seconds is any indication, it’s sure to be an absolute stunner.