Instead of the vintage minimalism aesthetic that prevails in the watch market at the moment, H. Moser & Cie. brings us contemporary minimalism, often with a touch of irony. The Swiss Alp Concept Watch Black, introduced earlier this year at SIHH, for example, is set in a rectangular case with a black screen-like dial that resembles an Apple smartwatch. As if to mock the smartwatch for what it can’t do, it displays nothing but a tourbillon escapement on the dial. Time is communicated by activating the minute repeater function, which combined with the tourbillon are ultimate symbols of mechanical watchmaking.
The new Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon, introduced at Baselworld, reprises the two complications in a round case, but this time adds hands and, more importantly, hammers which steal the show. The essence of this design is the stark contrast of the highly polished hammers, hands and gongs against the black dial. It’s such an obvious way to glorify the minute repeater function, you can’t help but wonder why all minute repeaters are not designed to showcase the hammers and gongs this way, rather than treating them like a sideshow. The minute repeater mechanism is often hidden on watches, visible only on the caseback if at all. Some expose the hammers and gongs on the dial side by means of skeletonizing the entire movement, but the repeater function can easily get lost in the overall display of gears and wheels – or more: on the Jacob & Co Astronomia Maestro, the hammers compete with a marble-sized spherical globe, a multi-axis tourbillon, a moon phase indicator set with two half-carat diamonds and an astronaut rotating under the crystal dome of the 26mm thick dial. Hammers? What hammers?
On the Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon, there is no question about where the hammers are or what they do. The gongs are also highly polished, and recessed in the periphery of the dial, which is an abyss of black lacquer. The positioning of the gongs is not only aesthetic; it creates a “sound box” as H. Moser & Cie. calls it, achieving greater acoustic resonance. The flying tourbillon, as beautiful as it is with its skeletonized bridge in an 18k white gold casing, is the sideshow. The movement is the manual-wind HMC 903, with a 90-hour power reserve. It is the fourteenth calibre developed by the brand since 2005. The 43 mm case is 18k white gold.
The Venturer Concept Vantablack is an even purer version of contemporary minimalism, with no logo or brand name, no indexes, no lettering to inform us of water-resistance, and certainly no model name, all of which might easily be found on a vintage minimalist dial. Yet the bold approach is becoming unmistakably H. Moser & Cie. Vantablack is a substance originally created for use in satellites and military camouflage. It is the darkest material on Earth, absorbing something like 99% of all light particles. The only thing we see are the stretched-out 18k rose gold leaf-shaped hands and the distinctive case with its concave bezel. If you want a list of 47 Bluetooth-driven smartwatch functions, this is not the watch for you. It communicates nothing more than hours and minutes, and aesthetically, much more than that. It is minimalist design and mechanical watchmaking at its purist and most pared-down. It contains the manual-wind HMC 327, with a three-day power reserve, a hacking seconds and H. Moser’s Original Straumann Hairspring, an interchangeable escapement with a gold pallet fork and balance wheel. The 39 mm case is 18k rose gold. Both new Concept watches have hand-stitched black alligator straps.