H. Moser & Cie is a tectonic brand. While its shifts are slow, profound and almost imperceptible, they are nonetheless lastingly redefining the company’s geometry. Edouard Meylan, its CEO, is progressively yet firmly steering it towards the course he has set.
Recasting the ranges... and the metals
The current phase is an important, once, since it involves the complete restructuring of the brand ranges – starting in 2014. “We are going to create three collections, which will correspond to the main stages in the life of our founder Heinrich Moser,” says Edouard Meylan. The first is named ‘Endeavour’ and regroups a large part of the current ranges. It features the characteristics of the models representing the foundations of H. Moser & Cie’s new lease on life : timeless style, smoky dials, gold and platinum. All are equipped with the main in-house complications, headed by perpetual calendars and small seconds.
Enter Baselworld 2014. The ‘Venturer’ collection will be the second range unveiled and will mark a new direction for the brand. It symbolises the period in Heinrich Moser’s life when he set out almost penniless and on foot to conquer the Russian market. We all know the end of that story, notably including unprecedented success in St. Petersburg.
An unprecedented aesthetic development
“We are going to work especially on new materials” confides Edouard Meylan. To be sure, and to paraphrase Jean-Claude Biver, there has never been an ounce of steel at Moser and there never will be. The brand is instead looking to functional materials such as titanium or aluminium alloys with DLC type or black ruthenium treatments.
DLC-treated titanium will be used this year in a special series that will be presented at Baselworld. “We are going to play with these materials, with a titanium case, a black ruthenium-treated movement and a black dial but with pink gold hour-markers” continues the CEO. “For Moser, this is an unprecedented aesthetic development.”
Over and above all this, H. Moser & Cie is currently putting the finishing touches to a new in-house calibre that will also be presented at Baselworld. There can be little doubt of the brand’s capabilities in this regard: while H. Moser & Cie looks after the development of movements per se, Precision Engineering is its own subsidiary dedicated to the development of regulating organs. It actually developed no fewer than three 100% in-house movements for Moser during its first year in operation! Today, the company has six to its credit. There will be eight in the near future, before reverting to six once production of those representing duplicates has ceased. A brand new in-house tourbillon calibre is also being developed – which is a major step forward in the company’s evolution.
This balance-spring is the great strength of H. Moser & Cie and its subsidiary Precision Engineering. It supplies the vast majority to external brands: when 50 balance-springs are manufactured by Precision Engineering, parent company H. Moser & Cie keeps one and supplies the remaining 49 to other brands!
Another strategic variable that will change in 2014 is the after-sales service. “In 2013 we finally finished cleaning out any previous models which might have presented reliability issues” sums up Edouard Meylan. “I apologised on behalf of earlier teams and we conducted recall campaigns and took back all suspect models. Today, our clients are delighted with our proactive attitude towards them. It was risky but it paid off – since they have now become our finest ambassadors. And in 2014, we are going to be able to produce at the same rate as we were before: in other words approximately 1,000 watches per annum.”
And looking further down the line? H. Moser & Cie does not conceal its desire to ramp things up. An annual average of 3,000 units seems reasonable in the mid-term. Increasing the production rate of Precision Engineering is also entirely feasible, since the brand currently produces 50,000 balance-springs per annum and could easily double that.
Seven new models at Baselworld
H. Moser & Cie will arrive in Basel with seven new models. While that might not seem much compared to the giants in the industry, it is enormous for a small independent brand with a similar number of in-house calibres.
MELB, the Meylan family holding which manages H. Moser & Cie, unceasingly renews its faith in the brand, which has every intention of developing new markets. Starting with Russia, its adopted homeland where its redeployment has been slowed down by legal obstacles. Are the latter insurmountable? “Talks are in progress” says the Honorary Chairman of the Board, Roger Nicolas Balsiger. One can assume he knows what he is talking about, since he is Heinrich Moser’s great grandson.