By John Galt
I am sure that H Moser & Cie founder the late Heinrich Moser never saw this coming when he first started the company back in 1828. The conditions his descendants’ timepieces would be tested at and boy have they just been tested to the max. Based in Neuhausen, Switzerland, H. Moser & Cie manufacture regulating organs and hairsprings, with these featuring in their 8 in-house calibres along with parts from the parent company. Let’s look at the watch first then I’ll explain the testing conditions it was put through.
The new H.Moser & Cie range called the pioneer will consist of three models all with identical specifications but with different coloured dials. Black, silver, and a gorgeous red fumé dials (my personal favourite) will be available. The 18k red gold case measures 42.8mm moving it away from being a dress watch but adds a sporty feel to this piece not seen before from H.Moser & Cie. The thin case bezel seems to drop away into the dial giving the impression that the dial is set deep in the heart of the watch.
The three dials all have applied gold indices and gold hands, the case flanks and the crown have had DLC-coated titanium inserts added. The addition of black components to the polished red gold case gives it superb contrast and again reiterating that this is a sportier piece. The movement is an in-house calibre entitled HMC 230 with a power reserve of three days. Finishing off the piece is a rubber strap which has been edged with DLC-treated protectors, continuing the theme of dark matte DlC and the warmth of the rose gold mixed perfectly.
A first for H.Moser & Cie is how this new pioneer piece was tested, it was tested in zero gravity aboard a fixed-wing aircraft that followed an elliptic flight path relative to the centre of the earth in order to achieve weightlessness and experience a zero-gravity environment.
During the course of its flight, the aircraft and its payload are in free fall at a few specific points. The aircraft ascends at a pitch angle of 45 degrees using thrusters and elevation controls. Weightlessness is achieved by reducing thrust and lowering the nose to maintain a neutral (straight and level) configuration. Weightlessness is experienced during the descent and continues until the aircraft reaches the centre of its trajectory, before the nose of the craft is pointed upward, at which point, the ascent begins again in order to repeat the manoeuvre and the sensation. Such craft is normally used for acclimatising astronauts to life in zero-G conditions, so as you can see it is highly unusual for watches to be put through such an ordeal. The flight path gives the passengers about 25 seconds of weightlessness out of 65 seconds of flight during each “parabola.”
However fun and slightly sickening this type of flight is it does (pardon the pun) throw up a couple of challenges, first off they had to ensure the consistent and accurate performance of their timepieces, which were fitted with a paramagnetic hairspring and variants of hairsprings with a Breguet overcoil. It performed very well in the test with a big thanks to Precision Engineering (part of H.Moser watch holdings). Precision Engineering AG (PEAG) are a specialist in watch escapement production and one of the very few companies in the world capable of manufacturing the alloys used in the production of self-compensating hairsprings. Originally an independent company, PEAG was incorporated into the Moser Watch Holding AG in 2012, justifying H.Moser & Cie’s claim that their escapement components are their own. These new movements that were tested on the flight will be fitted into the new pioneer range.
The watch is water resistant to 120 meters and priced at CHF 22,900.
This is a move away from the normal dressy pieces from H.Moser & Cie with this sporty number but I have to say it’s a very welcome addition, it still makes people aware that it is an H. Moser & Cie with its gorgeous dial colour but now with a sporty feel and now with a watch that has been tested in space or at least close to it.
For more info, please visit h-moser.com
JOHN GALT – CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
John Galt caught the horology bug back in 2010 on his first visit to a London watch show and has snowballed since; John has become an avid writer and blogger of timepieces of all kinds, from everyday timepieces to modern Luxury HauteHorology, his favorite brands being HYT and GreubelForsey that push the boundaries of modern watch-making. John keeps a keen interest in the UK watch scene with their many emerging brands and timepieces. John Galt currently contributes watch related articles for online publications in the UK and USA. You can follow him on Twitter Read his articles here