Even at Dubai Watch Week, Edouard Meylan does things differently. The Chief Executive of H. Moser & Cie. moderated a panel on the very brand under his stewardship, and specifically the provocative tone that put Moser on the map. We all still have in mind the satirical Swiss Alp Watch, the tongue-in-cheek Swiss Mad Watch with its case made out of Swiss cheese, and the eco-friendly Nature Watch. In an industry that tends not to colour outside the lines, these watches, and the slogan that goes with them – “Make Swiss-Made Great Again” –, garnered attention and were by and large welcomed by the community. “I personally love Moser’s stories,” said Ted Gushue, a digital media consultant and collector taking part in the discussion. “Whereas the wider industry appears to have completely lost its sense of humour, the brand reminds us there is still fun to be had.”
“That we have grown so strongly in recent years is certainly thanks to this disruptive, provocative attitude,” Meylan confirmed. “When we took over H. Moser in 2012, no-one had heard of us. We were told we had to invest, but with what money? Being creative, adopting a different profile and tone certainly wasn’t the easiest road to take, but it’s brought us to where we are today. Now when I come to Dubai, I don’t have to tell people who I am or who Moser is.”
Edouard Meylan, CEO, H. Moser & Cie.: A very important one. We were lucky in that we took over the brand just when Instagram was coming into its own. Some of our team members were already experienced users, so we were able to take maximum advantage and grow business that way. Now it’s different. You have to invest in social media.
That’s right, with peaks at 30% and even 35%. The figure for 2019 will be in the region of 8% to 12%. Like everyone else, we’ve faced difficulties in Hong Kong, although this hasn’t prevented us from hosting events to let our customers know we’re still very much present. Fortunately, we’ve been able to offset the fall in sales in Hong Kong with strong performances elsewhere, in particular in the US and Dubai. At 1,500 watches a year, we’ve reached a volume of production that allows for better diversification, with the prospect of doubling that volume in the next two to three years. Currently we’re working on faster rotation of our watches in stores by focusing on top-quality retailers. This explains why we’re going to close certain points of sale and open others. China is on the agenda. At the end of the day, what matters most is that we are profitable. H. Moser is now well-established in its segment of the market, which makes it easier for us to forecast business. We had to develop an identity that was sexy but also classical and elegant with a high watchmaking content, and I think that’s exactly what we’ve done.
These “stunts” certainly earned us a lot of goodwill, but we have to evolve. H. Moser is leaving its teenage years behind. People are more familiar with the brand. Now we need to introduce them to its history and heritage, though still with the sense of humour and tone that sets us apart. Not to put too fine a point on it, I’d say people heard about us because of the cheese watch but didn’t think too much about what was inside. It’s our job now to fill those gaps. Rest assured, though, we’ll continue to do things our way. Every time we’ve tried to make a more “commercial” product, it’s flopped.
The Pioneer, which is our entry-level sport chic watch, and the Endeavour complication watches. We’ll shortly be ceasing production of the Swiss Alp Watch which is based on a stock of movements that’s almost run out. As for the Heritage watches, they are a means of testing H. Moser’s history through dedicated products. For 2020 we’re unveiling a new sports watch in steel with integrated bracelet. Also in 2020, we’re joining the historic brands in the main hall at Watches & Wonders Geneva [ex-Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie – SIHH]. This very important stage confirms a positive dynamic for the brand which has gained in maturity.
It’s true that, for the moment, we are very much bricks and mortar. Our only online sales are for certified, pre-owned H. Moser watches. We’ve haven’t yet found the formula that’s right for us. Also, we work with some very important distribution partners such as Seddiqi in the Emirates and Bucherer in Switzerland and internationally. We certainly don’t want to jeopardise the excellent relations we have.