To say that that Edouard Meylan has a taste for the theatrical would be an understatement. The young CEO of independent Swiss brand H. Moser & Cie has used the SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) event in Geneva time and again as a soapbox to broadcast his misgivings about the industry and backed it up with a timepiece that symbolizes this protest.
After the Swiss Alp Watch at SIHH 2016 and the Swiss Mad Watch at SIHH 2017, Moser will use SIHH 2018 next week to unveil the Swiss Icons Watch, a timepiece the brand describes as a “a symbol of icons past and present and a safeguard against current excesses.”
Meylan brings attention to an issue that’s often discussed in closed circles and on forums but never debated in the open – the fact that today Swiss watchmaking relies far too heavily on marketing to push its products. For an industry that built its reputation on innovation and creativity, there are many who are rankled by the fact that watch brands would rather invest in marketing efforts like tying up with celebrities and influencers than in the product itself. Don’t forget to watch the hilarious video that accompanies the launch.
Moser sees an “an immense chasm between the humility and serenity of the watchmakers who create these watches and the marketing that focuses on glitz and glamour above their products.” The Swiss Icons Watch is H. Moser & Cie. "taking a stand against this opportunistic watchmaking".
The result is a timepiece that borrows design cues from past icons – hat tips to everything from the Royal Oak, Nautilus, Rolex GMT, Panerai, IWC, Girard-Perregaux and so on. The watch uses a 43 mm stainless steel case, a sapphire crystal caseback and a crown fitted with a cabochon sapphire stone. In a departure from regular Moser watches, this Swiss Icons Watch is fitted with a stainless steel bracelet.
We need to come back down to earth, roll up our sleeves and create unique ideas. This is the only way that we can make Swiss Made great again. – Edouard Meylan
It may borrow generously from the icons of the industry, but Moser signatures abound too. The Funky Blue dial is here, so is the double hairspring made from PE5000, a paramagnetic alloy and an interchangeable one-minute flying tourbillon. The watch is powered by the in-house self-winding HMC 804 movement.
The Swiss Icons Watch is a unique piece and will be auctioned off after SIHH 2019. All proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Fondation pour la Culture Horlogère Suisse (Foundation for Swiss Watchmaking Culture) and will be used to support apprenticeships in the watchmaking profession and to safeguard expertise in the related watchmaking arts and crafts.
While the Swiss Icons Watch's looks can be polarizing, what Moser does well is achieve some sort of balance in putting it all together. More importantly, it has used satire and craftsmenship to stir up open debate on a topic that most industry executives would not admit to in public but would reluctantly acknowledge in private.
Everything changed 24 hours later. It was all over. On Friday morning, the brand posted a note on its social media channels and sent an email to the press stating:
Dear H. Moser friends and others,
No one said #MakeSwissMadeGreatAgain would be easy… You might have noticed that we have stopped our campaign promoting our Swiss Icons Watch. While our objective was to pay tribute to the great founders of our beautiful industry and warn against certain practices of others, the message was unfortunately sometimes misunderstood. As such, the Swiss Icons Watch will therefore no longer be presented and won’t be sold to raise funds to support education and training of young Swiss Watchmakers. But fear not, we still have a number of surprises to share with you next week at SIHH.
CEO H. Moser & Cie.