Watches and Wonders Geneva wrapped in April 2021 after almost 400 new watches were unveiled to news-hungry specialist writers by 38 exhibiting brands across 500 media conferences and 600 one-to-one appointments across 20 languages.
How do we keep track? It’s tough. We eventually succumb to information overload, especially now that the event is forced online because of the pandemic. The format enables us to cover more ground virtually than we do in reality.
What are the standouts then? Special pieces from favourite brands? A colour, innovation or sustainability trend? For me, this time, it came down to branding.
There was one evocative image that ensured I remember both brand and timepiece that inspired the creative for H. Moser & Cie’s Pioneer Centre Seconds Mega Cool, described as “the sporty steel watch with a tropical touch”. Deprived of island travel for 18 months now, I am indeed still “dreaming of a blue lagoon and cool drink” — the caption to an image of two colourful cocktails placed poolside at a dream destination.
Talking to me from “Schaffhausen Beach”, Moser CEO Edouard Meylan says their strategy is to reveal a topic important to the company one week ahead of the fair. “This year it was about branding and how Moser is moving away from the branding we’ve seen for years in the watch industry. We go a little bit against the tide and say our products are art pieces. In the way an artist would subtly sign an artwork in the corner or on the back, we do the same with our watches.”
The Endeavour Centre Seconds Concept x seconde/seconde/ collaboration is symbolic of that. Limited to 20 pieces, this was launched just before the watch fair opened and is available exclusively online through the brand’s e-commerce platform. The defining — and only — character on the Funky Blue fumé dial is the pixelated eraser that replaces the hour hand. And that is the artist’s signature.
Meanwhile, the Pioneer Centre Seconds Mega Cool is notable for its vibrant Blue Lagoon fumé dial and luminescent hands and markers on the flange of its 42.8mm steel case. The Moser logo is transparent, making it visible only at a certain angle. “The response to the Blue Lagoon has been extremely strong. It is a fresh colour, the colour of hope, and we all need hope at the moment,” says Meylan.
The colour is inspired by Caribbean water.
Another introduction to the Pioneer collection is the Pioneer Tourbillon Mega Cool with its new all-terrain double hairspring tourbillon. It is an eye-catching feature on the same Blue Lagoon fumé dial, set in a steel case that is water resistant to 120m.
Both timepieces can be worn on a bracelet, rubber and technical textile strap, all of which are supplied with each watch, thus being the ideal accessory for beach or formal occasions.
The tourbillon is limited to 50 pieces while the centre seconds is not. “However, it’s Moser — so our output on something like this is usually about 10 a month.”
Meylan elaborates to reflect on a production schedule that is fully booked until October 2022, and an ongoing search for more watchmakers. “It’s been crazy for two years now. Even through the pandemic we managed to grow by 12% and there were three months when we had to reduce our capacity by 50%. Our first quarter results were more than double last year’s record. We have nothing on inventory, are working weekends, and have just hired 10 more staff. Now we are 70 and still we cannot cope. It’s quite incredible.”
Moser became profitable in the third consecutive financial year of Meylan’s tenure as CEO. “Since then (2016/2017) we’ve had this acceleration but it’s just a step. We want to go further. Of course, I believe it’s the hard work but I also believe there’s a shift towards more independent brands at the moment. Moser is very well positioned, and we’re benefiting from this wave we’re surfing at the moment.”