Hands-on: A couple of cool in blue H. Moser & Cie watches

Earlier this year, a little before BaselWorld 2015 began, H. Moser & Cie (HMC) took the wraps off a couple of new watches. The first was the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Funky Blue, followed by the Dual Time Midnight Blue Fumé Venturer Tourbillon, and we were fortunate to have the opportunity to spend some time with both at the inaugural Dubai Watch Week.

Blue dials are in, and these are among the best we've ever seen.

Blue dials are in, and these are among the best we’ve ever seen.

Lets start with the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Funky Blue (reference 1341-0207) because although this isn’t an all new watch, the perpetual calendar watches are HMC’s most popular models. In fact, when HMC re-launched in 2005, it did so with the Endeavour Perpetual family, though it was then known as the Perpetual 1. The Perpetual 1 is one of the main reasons so many people know the brand today. Remember, HMC is still a small independent watchmaker that makes just over 1,000 watches per year.

We’ve never previously experienced the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar before, so we were lucky to be able to chat and experience a demonstration from Daniel Zimmermann, Executive Director Sales for H. Moser & Cie. The long and short of it is that HMC’s take on a perpetual calendar gets rid of all the unnecessary calendar sub-dials, and gives the wearer the information they need via an ingeniously simple and effective means. It’s something that no other manufacturer offers.

This reference features a 40.8mm white gold case and a kudu leather strap.

This reference features a 40.8mm white gold case and a kudu leather strap.

If you look at the beautiful blue dial above (known as the sky-blue fumé dial), what you’ll see is a clean and classic layout with a seconds sub-dial at the six o’clock position, a power reserve at nine o’clock, and a large date aperture at the three o’clock position. You’ll also see 12 hour indices, an hour hand and a minute hand. Look a little closer however, and you’ll see another small hand finished with an arrow, protruding from the centre of the dial. That is the month indicator, and because there are 12 months in the year and there are 12 hour markers, that little hand is actually indicating the month using the same indices. As horophiles we’re surprised that this sort of approach didn’t occur to us but then, it seems to have only occurred to the guys at HMC since, as we said earlier, no one offers a perpetual calendar like the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar.

Basically, on this timepiece, the hour indices serve dual purposes – to tell you the hour of day as well as the month. 12 o’clock doubles as December, three o’clock as March, six o’clock as June and nine o’clock as September. So, on the picture above you can see the small arrow pointing at the two o’clock hour indice, which means the current month is February. It’s as simple as that and we reckon wearers will quickly get used to this – we certainly did because when we looked at the titanium Endeavour Perpetual Calendar, the month hand was pointing at the seven o’clock position, and we quickly figured the month it was indicating was July.

As beautifully finished as the dial is, the movement is even better. HMC's attention to detail is staggering.

As beautifully finished as the dial is, the movement is even better. HMC’s attention to detail is staggering.

If you’re thinking ‘that’s great, but how does this watch tell you when it’s a leap year?’ Don’t worry, HMC hasn’t forgotten about that. Zimmermann says that H. Moser & Cie has always focused on building watches that sport clean and classic looks, so rather than clutter the dial to accommodate the rarely used leap year indicator, HMC moved it to the back of the watch, integrating it right into the landscape of the movement.

Check out the 12 o’clock position in the picture above, you can see a small star wheel – that’s the leap year indicator. This is again a simple and elegant solution because it not only keeps the dial clean, it encourages you to actively flip the timepiece over, so you have another reason to stare at the beautiful HMC 341 movement (not that you need more reasons…).

The exhibition caseback is curved for maximum wearer comfort, and with a case that measures 11.1mm in height, this will easily slide under shirt cuffs.

The exhibition caseback is curved for maximum wearer comfort, and with a case that measures 11.1mm in height, this will easily slide under shirt cuffs.

The hand assembled calibre is immaculately finished, and packs double-barrels, which gives a power reserve of seven days when fully wound. The manual winding movement also allows the wearer to quickly and conveniently set the perpetual calendar – the double click crown allows you to roll both forward or backwards (HMC refers to this as the Flash Calendar), and offers a precise jumping mechanism. So, exactly at midnight, you’ll see the date wheel jump cleanly rather than gradually turn to the next date, and you’ll also see the same when it’s time for the month indicator to roll forward (we’re kicking ourselves for forgetting to capture all this horological goodness in a video). Last but not least, the movement also offers hacking seconds, so you can accurately set the time at your leisure.

With that, it’s time to move on to the other H. Moser & Cie watch we spent time with at Dubai Watch Week.

Also with a blue dial

The H. Moser & Cie Dual Time Midnight Blue Fumé Venturer Tourbillon. We apologise for having used a press picture here, our shot of the watch with the second hour hand showing was distorted.

The H. Moser & Cie Dual Time Midnight Blue Fumé Venturer Tourbillon. We apologise for having used a press picture here, our shot of the watch with the second hour hand showing was distorted.

Like the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar we talked about earlier, the Dual Time Midnight Blue Fumé Venturer Tourbillon (reference 2802-0201) is not an all new timepiece but rather a new addition to the existing family. The midnight blue fume dial joins the existing red-gold fume dial, argenté dial and aroise dial, and is powered by the same in-house, hand-finished HMC 802 calibre found in the earlier watches. This is a very good thing.

The self-winding HMC 802 employs a Straumann double hairspring, which H. Moser & Cie says improves accuracy, and guarantees a minimum power reserve of three days. Like its predecessors, this watch also features an interchangeable minute tourbillon at the six o’clock position on the dial (more on this later).

With a 18-carat white gold case that measures 14.3mm thick and 41.5mm in diameter, this isn't a dress watch but it will still look fantastic when paired with a suit.

With a 18-carat white gold case that measures 14.3mm thick and 41.5mm in diameter, this isn’t a dress watch but it will still look fantastic when paired with a suit.

As striking as the sunburst blue finish is on the majority of the dial, your eyes will immediately be drawn in to the tourbillon, and its skeleton bridges. This is because the lower portion of the dial is chamfered and decorated, so as to give visual depth to the tourbillon. It’s a formula that works because we couldn’t help but stare at the hypnotic tourbillon cage doing its thing.

As this is a dual time watch, it features a second hour hand, which is finished in red. However, if you aren’t traveling and are in your home city, the movement, cleverly, allows you to hide the second hour hand under the main hour hand (see picture below). Zimmermann says this enables the wearer to keep the watch’s dial looking clean. This sort of attention to detail should give you an idea of just how committed HMC is to designing elegant and classic looking timepieces.

Complicated yet beautifully elegant. This is a watch that will draw people's attention.

Complicated yet beautifully elegant. This is a watch that will draw people’s attention.

Beyond what we saw and experienced at Dubai Watch Week, there are a few other interesting facts about HMC that are worth sharing. Although it is a small independent brand, H. Moser & Cie actually produces its own hairsprings in-house, it’s something they’ve been doing since 2007 through their sister company Precision Engineering. Up until that point, every brand had to turn to Nivarox for their hairsprings. This is impressive stuff but there’s more.

Every H. Moser & Cie timepiece, and we mean every, features an escapement module that has been designed with the intent that it be replaced when the watch is sent in for service. With the tourbillon timepieces, such as the Dual Time Midnight Blue Fumé Venturer Tourbillon here, this extends to the tourbillon module!

The use of a skeleton rotor means you can see more of that beautiful hand-finished movement.

The use of a skeleton rotor means you can see more of that beautiful hand-finished movement.

This approach is unique to HMC and, it’s also something that seems to have polarised watch collectors around the world. On the positive side, this approach means you end up with a movement that’s accurate and closer to new than any other watch brand can manage, after your timepiece goes in for a service. Beyond this, we also think it’s a good thing that H. Moser & Cie is taking a proactive and bold approach to servicing their watches. This is in stark contrast to a lot of the other big brands, which are struggling to quickly and cost effectively service customer watches because of a lack of allocated resources.

On the flip side, the majority of watch aficionados and collectors that we’ve spoken to, and know, are quite fierce about maintaining the originality of their watches – these folks actively try to ensure that their watch is only serviced in so far as regulating and demagnetising the movement, replacing gaskets (to ensure water and atmosphere resistance), refreshing lubricants within the movement so it runs properly, and in extreme cases, fixing serious damage such as broken plastic/crystal. These folks don’t want their watch’s dials refinished, their lume reapplied, their case polished, and certainly don’t want critical parts changed within the movement unless absolutely necessary.

This watch is presented with a hand-stitched black alligator strap and a dressy looking white gold clasp.

This watch is presented with a hand-stitched black alligator strap and a dressy looking white gold clasp.

As collectors ourselves, we’re fine with HMC’s approach because if we were to put money down on one of this independent brand’s fine timepieces, we would do so knowing that this is part of the brand’s DNA. It’s something H. Moser & Cie makes blindingly obvious in their communications (do your research before buying as always), so it wouldn’t be a surprise, and as we’ve said above, HMC deserves props for proactively devoting resources to ensuring their customers’ watches are in top shape after every service.

That said, we completely understand if collectors are unable to embrace this approach, as this is a new concept but, on the whole, we’re glad that an independent brand is setting an example – one that we hope the rest of the industry will learn from.

We had a heck of a time deciding which movement we liked better. In the end, we were leaning more towards the HMC 341 in the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Funky Blue (left).

We had a heck of a time deciding which movement we liked better. In the end, we were leaning more towards the HMC 341 in the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Funky Blue (left).

We’d like to thank Daniel Zimmermann for taking the time to talk us through these incredible HMC timepieces.

H. Moser & Cie’s retail partner in the UAE is Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, and their watches are visible in a number of Seddiqi’s multi-brand boutiques.

To learn more about H. Moser & Cie, click here.

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