A wristwatch with a case made from Swiss cheese to mock the new ‘Swiss Made’ regulations lacking rigor has been sold (as part of a set of two watches) for CHF100,000 (About $100,000) by auction house Christie’s in Geneva on May 15. The watch, made by independent brand H. Moser & Cie was sold along with the brand’s Swiss Alp watch and all the proceeds go to the Fondation pour la Culture Horlogère Suisse (Foundation for Swiss Watchmaking Culture).
From January 1, 2017, companies are only required to have 60 per cent of the components in a watch to be of Swiss origin for them to qualify for the Swiss Made label. H. Moser & Cie has been very vocal in its opposition of this ruling. The brand feels that the label is too lenient, provides no guarantees and encourages abuse of the system. The Schaffhausen-based watchmaker found a unique way to express its dissatisfaction at the ruling, or “this absurdity” as the brand termed it.
In a satirical move, the brand has produced a watch with a case that is 100 per cent natural and entirely Swiss: cheese. Yes, Swiss cheese – a Vacherin Mont d’Or médaille d’or – is mixed with a composite itr2 material made with carbon nanotubes (the same used in the Pebble 2 Smartwatch), then machined and polished with the H. Moser signature finishes to create a unique case.
The ‘Swiss Mad watch’ is paired with a strap made from Swiss cowhide. The watch is finished with a red fumé dial and doubled indices at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, subtly reminiscent of the Swiss flag. It is powered by the in-house, hand-wound, mechanical HMC 327 caliber, the Swiss Mad Watch was one of the most talked about watches at SIHH earlier this year. You can watch a tongue-in-cheek video presented by the brand's young CEO Edouard Meylan here.
The brand has created several highly symbolic pieces, intended to highlight the failings or oversights of an industry which sometimes seems elitist and out of touch. In 2016, it unveiled a prototype of the Swiss Alp Watch (see image below), which took aim at the industry’s fixation with the Apple Watch. The video, laced with irony and wit, got them a fair bit of attention at the fair. These two one-off pieces have gone a long way in promoting greater transparency to the debates surrounding these hot topics.
Included in the catalogue of rare watches, the Swiss Alp Watch and Swiss Mad Watch were sold as a single lot by Christie’s and was finally hammered for CHF100,000. The proceeds from this sale will be donated to the Fondation pour la Culture Horlogère Suisse (Foundation for Swiss Watchmaking Culture), helping it to achieve its two objectives: to support apprenticeships in the watchmaking professions and to safeguard expertise in the related watchmaking arts and crafts.
With the support of Christie’s, a model from the H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Watch series will be sold each year at auction, with the profits donated to the Fondation pour la Culture Horlogère Suisse. The next piece will be unveiled to coincide with SIHH 2018.