Most of the talk you’ll hear at Dubai Watch Week is about tourbillons, hand-chamfering, mirror-polish and the kind of jaw-dropping complications that won new brand Genus the “Mechanical Exception” prize at this year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève for the GNS1.2. It features an out-of-the-ordinary display of peripheral hours while minutes snake around two wheels, turning in opposite directions, in a figure of eight. A world-first with two patents pending, it will stop you in your tracks. And H. Moser & Cie.? This year, the firm has chosen to centre its discourse not so much on the (remarkable) mechanisms inside its timepieces but rather their exteriors, and more especially the dials. These have become a veritable hallmark of the brand, which employs 60 staff, and a non-negligible factor in its growth. Annual production has tripled since 2012 to 1,500 pieces and the brand intends to double that figure within the next two to three years.
“When we took over the brand in 2012, there was nothing to really distinguish a H. Moser & Cie. watch from any other,” comments CEO Edouard Meylan. “By chance, the collections included the famous double hairspring regulator, a mechanical exception, and a watch with a fumé dial. As strange as it may seem, we decided to rebuild Moser on that basis, with the aim of making watches that would be different to what was already available. Dials played a hugely important role in this.” Initially, the fumé dials were produced in very small limited series and in four different colours. “Our second stroke of luck was that we caught the eye of several influential figures in watchmaking circles,” Meylan continues. “They gave us the extra boost we needed to envisage a signature dial. One that would be sufficiently recognisable not to need a logo.”
A step ahead
Mission accomplished. Over the years, H. Moser & Cie. dials have become established in a category of their own. First for their graduated fumé tones in rarely-seen colours such as funky blue and, the latest to date, blue lagoon. Then for their perfectly minimalist aesthetic, where nothing detracts from complications such as a tourbillon. Lastly for explorations of materials like aventurine or decorative guillochage. Demand has been such that the brand now sources its dials from not one but three suppliers. Further proof of this success, the competition has woken up to the appeal of a fumé dial. “That’s fine by me,” insists Edouard Meylan. “It shows we had the right intuition and that we must always stay one step ahead.”
Staying ahead for H. Moser & Cie. now includes the use of new technologies for dials that undergo no fewer than 200 operations if they are to comply with its criteria. Globolight® numerals, a moulded luminescent ceramic that can take on any shape or colour, have arrived in the brand’s collections, alongside Vantablack®, an ultra-black coating composed of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes. Absorbing more than 99% of light, it is the darkest material known to Man. Preceded by its reputation for extraordinary dials, H. Moser & Cie. couldn’t decently arrive in Dubai empty-handed, and so it came with two limited editions, each one developed specifically for Dubai Watch Week. They are an Endeavour Diamond Concept with a taupe fumé dial and a Swiss Alp Watch with a yellow fumé dial. Knowing that production of the Swiss Alp Watch, which is based on a limited number of calibres, will shortly be discontinued, and that the ten pieces in the Dubai Edition 2019 represent the penultimate series, there’s little chance any of them will be flying back to Switzerland at the end of the week.