Only Watch: H. Moser & Cie Venturer Concept

By Ben Newport-Foster

Swiss watch brands can be many things: innovative, traditional, expensive, affordable, sporty, dressy but they are almost always humorless. Every brand from Audemars Piguet to Zenith take themselves and the greater watchmaking industry very, very seriously. Except H. Moser & Cie.

They are a breath a fresh air blowing through the valleys of Switzerland, disrupting a lot of old cobwebs in the corridors of older brands. They stopped writing Swiss Made on the dials because they believed it didn’t mean anything anymore. They made the “totally not Apple Watch” Swiss Alp watch and, oh yeah, they made a watch out of cheese. But like many of the great comedians, H. Moser have a serious side to them which is displayed in the Venturer Concept watch for Only Watch.

Muscular Dysthrophy is no laughing matter and H. Moser hopes that this watch will act as a metaphor to the perils of children who battle with the illness. “Faced with illness, especially when it affects a child, priorities come into sharp focus, centering on what is important. Everything else is of no consequence”. The minimalist design of the Venturer Concept watch has stripped away all the non-essentials.
No logo, no markers, no Swiss made. Just two hands and a dial. That’s all you need for a watch to function.

Despite this thoroughly modern take, H. Moser is actually older than you think. The company started in the 1800s with Heinrich Moser who sold Swiss pocket watches to Russian clients. The company was never a huge player in the industry but continued till the late 1970s when it fell victim to the quartz crisis. In 2002, ex-IWC engineer Dr. Jurgen Lange bought the brand and set about making new, exciting watches under the H. Moser & Cie name.

Inside the Venturer Concept watch is the hand-wound HMC 327 Caliber which has a 3 day power reserve and hacking seconds. All H. Moser movement are in-house and feature ‘Moser teeth’ and Straumann hairsprings. ‘Moser’ teeth is H. Mosers way of saying that all wheels and pinion teeth are designed to be more efficient at transmitting power whilst reducing the amount of friction they produce. The Straumann hairspring is the name for H. Moser’s in-house made hairspring. The name comes from Professor Doctor Straumann who, in 1931, developed an alloy that was fracture and corrosion resistant and anti-magnetic to use as material for a balance spring. This new material was called Nivarox. Now Nivarox is a brand specializing in balance spring manufacture and 99.99% of brands buy their balance springs from them. For H. Moser, a company that is only 15 years old, to create their own balance spring is a huge achievement.

The Venturer has a 39mm white gold case that fitted with an alligator strap and the white gold pin buckle is the only place where you’ll see a brand logo. It’s not a traditional looking watch, but its not as avante garde as other watches in the Only Watch auction. Instead it creates its own genre of ‘innovative traditional’ that is distinctively H. Moser. The white hands against the red fume dial are meant to evoke the flag of Monaco. Whilst the Only Watch auction will be taking place in Geneva, the Only Watch Foundation is under the patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco. The red theme on the dial continues over to part of the movement as the balance bridge has been colored bright red. It’s a singular splash of color on the beautifully finished movement.

The French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said that perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. The Venturer has stripped every superfluous addition away, with one of the few things left is being the ability to afford it.