Back in 2016, H. Moser & Cie. unveiled the first Swiss Alp Watch, whose name and design paid a cheeky homage to the world leader in the burgeoning smartwatch category. Five years later, the smartwatch or “connected watch” has been firmly established in the overall market, and Apple now holds the title of world’s biggest watchmaker, yet the early dire predictions of such devices supplanting traditional mechanical timepieces never materialised. Thus, perhaps feeling a sense of “mission accomplished,” Moser now writes the final chapter in the irreverent saga of the Swiss Alp Watch, releasing the aptly named “Final Upgrade” version, a unique conceptual piece with a tech-inspired twist.
The watch’s softly squared case, measuring 38.2 mm by 44 mm, is made of black DLC-coated steel and its dial is made of Vantablack, a material touted as “the blackest black ever produced by artificial means.” Composed of tiny carbon nanotubes, Vantablack absorbs up to 99.965 percent of all light, making it ideal for scientific applications like telescopes and military ones like camouflage. As on all of Moser’s concept watches, the dial is ultra-minimalist, eschewing even a brand logo, with leaf-shaped black hands that contribute to the monochrome look, evoking its Apple-made doppelganger in standby mode. Reinforcing this aesthetic, and setting this Alp Watch apart from its predecessors, is the clever offset seconds display at 6 o’clock. Designed as a shaded disk of small openings (and, according to Moser CEO Edouard Meylan, suggested by a customer and aficionado of the brand), it will look familiar to users of smartwatches, smartphones and other devices that “power up” and “power down.”
One need only turn the watch over, however, to reveal that it is not a digital device but a highly sophisticated micro-mechanical one. On display behind the sapphire caseback is Moser’s manufacture Caliber HMC 324, a hand-wound movement with a 21,600-vph frequency and a four-day power reserve (try leaving your smartwatch on for four days without recharging it). It is enhanced with a host of decorative, hand-applied finishes and equipped with Moser’s own interchangeable escapement, which has an escape wheel and pallet fork made of gold as well as the hallmark Straumann hairspring. As a bonus, the power reserve is also indicated on the back side of the caliber, by a tiny hand on an arcing “up-down” scale.
Mounted on a hand-stitched black alligator strap to complete the dark monochromatic package, the one-of-a-kind Final Upgrade marks the end of production for Moser’s Swiss Alp Watch. (Unlike obsolete early editions of the connected watch that it so deftly lampoons, however, earlier versions of the model might actually grow in value one day.) One lucky buyer can own the Final Upgrade for $30,800.