Economy of Movements

New ownership brings fresh ideas and shared technical resources to H. Moser & Cie.

“When we first looked at H. Moser & Cie., we said to ourselves: ‘No way. This brand is losing so much money,’ ” recalls Edouard Meylan, who—together with his father, George-Henri (formerly the CEO of Audemars Piguet), and two brothers—assumed control of the troubled Swiss-German watch company in 2012. The family group, which also purchased the avant-garde watchmaker Hautlence, hopes to use the resulting economies of scale and renewed focus to tackle many of the challenges common to small watch companies in today’s industry.

H. Moser, which is based in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, reestablished itself in 2005 with a clean and elegant line of state-of-the-art timepieces that were ahead of their time. The perpetual calendar that the company introduced possessed a highly sophisticated movement and an ingeniously subtle design that exemplified the promise of the brand. Yet advantage proved a shortcoming: In its rush to commercialize the product, Moser fell far behind on deliveries, and of the watches that did make it to the market, as many as 50 percent came back to the company with problems.

“With a product that sophisticated—326 components—you need at least three to five years of development time,” observes Meylan. “We spent the first year understanding the brand and fixing as many problems—like the perpetual—as possible.” Meylan’s team re-engineered over 40 components of the perpetual calendar, improving its reliability and cutting assembly time in half. In an effort to streamline its resources, Moser shares its engineering talent with Hautlence. “There are some amazing people out there,” Meylan says. “But they are very difficult for a small brand to afford. We try to share these experts.”

The brand’s design sensibilities have also evolved—albeit subtly. The original models, which bore many names but shared a very similar aesthetic, are now grouped together in a single collection called Endeavor. A new collection, Venturer, which appeared last year, features a more detailed and modern-proportioned case. Future plans include product expansions to add to the brand’s versatility without compromising its basic personality. “Moser has always produced beautiful products,” notes Meylan, “but in the past, they were very strict and very traditional—perhaps too close to the German style. We have to find our own way.”

H. Moser & Cie., +41.52.674.0050, h-moser.com

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