H. Moser & Cie CEO: Straight Talk on Watchmaking

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h moser & cie ceo edourar meylan
Picture: H. Moser & Cie

There are most likely just a few people in watchmaking as distinctive as H. Moser & Cie CEO, Edouard Meylan. A champion of straight-talk in Swiss watchmaking, Meylan has by no means been afraid to ruffle feathers, going as far as to create watches that poke enjoyable at time-honoured conventions. “You understand, we Swiss are typically X, Y and Z…I’m Swiss so I can say this,” is how Meylan has sometimes framed sure issues.

So far as interviews go, that is nice for watch specialist media. Certainly, all too typically the problem is deciding what issues we are able to print with out upsetting different manufacturers, although we aren’t those making the factors. Observe-up questions are virtually completely unusable as a result of we must break sure codes in watchmaking to press sure factors. We admit that we’ve got minimize model call-outs from earlier Meylan interviews, however we is not going to be doing so this time.

For old-fashioned professionals corresponding to myself, an interview with Meylan is sort of a throwback to the times of the late Nicolas G. Hayek and Luigi Macaluso. For a time, the one one who dared to talk so freely was the irascible Jean-Claude Biver.

In an period when the famously secretive nature of the watch commerce — typically an unwelcome and pointless encumbrance — has come below hearth within the identify of sustainability, we expect extra business leaders want to return out on the best aspect of this. Mechanical watches are certainly sustainable, in some senses of that inherently problematic phrase, however the commerce does itself no favours by obfuscation.

To start with, there’s the matter of Swiss Made, and right here you understand Meylan doesn’t maintain again. We will simply think about Meylan fixing us along with his steely gaze and explaining how incorrect we’re in regards to the potential of Swiss Made… However that may be a dialog for one more time, and we’re positive it is going to occur.

For now, Meylan does have a couple of ideas in regards to the present inexperienced wave washing over watchmaking on the whole. As probably the most vocal high government in impartial watchmaking who believes in transparency — with the attainable exception of Code41 — we completely needed to have Meylan’s perspective. In full, not only a quote.

h moser & cie streamliner flyback chronograph calibre
The calibre HMC 902 of the Streamliner Flyback Chronograph was developed with motion specialists Agenhor. Picture: H. Moser & Cie

We heard the information that H. Moser & Cie has overwhelmed the down watch market in 2020 so congratulations! How did you develop by 24%, if we’ve got our numbers proper?

It’s way more than that. Market was down 22% and we have been up 12% in order that’s 34%. It’s not simply us I believe; in fact there’s loads of onerous work from the crew in turning round this model (from the time the Meylan household took over in 2012). However I believe there’s a shift within the behaviour of collectors who at the moment are taking a look at impartial manufacturers. Thanks (partially) to social media and the hype across the numerous watches. As soon as collectors have every thing they need from the large manufacturers they flip to the independents. They’re on the lookout for the subsequent uncommon factor. What are uncommon watches? That is what independents do, and Moser being on the forefront right here undoubtedly advantages us.

How did the pandemic have an effect on issues on the manufacture? As we’ve got famous earlier than, we’re glad to see watchmaking persevering, however we’d hate to suppose that individuals are risking their lives and well being to make watches.

I believe saying we could also be risking lives is a really huge factor; I might by no means have my folks on the manufacture risking their lives to provide watches. No, we observe all the rules from the Swiss authorities, that are fairly strict, and maintain everybody protected. There are loads of procedures in place to cope with COVID-19. We had some instances however by no means a cluster. However yeah we’ve got to be actually actually cautious and sooner or later, we’ve got folks working from house. We now have loads of flexibility for our folks and we belief them so much and I believe we’ve managed fairly nicely. Now we even have new folks so we’ve got to watch out to inform all of them the best issues to do.

Sure we heard in regards to the growth. Inform us in regards to the resolution so as to add extra workers. Was it troublesome?

It’s troublesome sure however it’s a neater resolution than having to let folks go. By way of danger, I do know my order books are stuffed (till 2023) so we’re okay. I do know precisely what we must always produce and what we are able to promote. It’s even rising each month; we’ve by no means had a lot visibility. So the choice (to develop) is just not onerous. What is difficult is to adapt the construction of the organisation. Immediately we must be way more skilled. Being agile and reactive is one factor however whenever you get to the extent the place you ship a couple of hundred watches a month, it’s a totally different sort of logistics. It’s important to have extra processes in place. Individuals want to vary their mindsets in some instances. This we’ve got been doing slowly however now it’s accelerating. So we all know the place we have to enhance, the place we must be higher.

h moser & cie endeavour centre seconds
Endeavour Centre Seconds x Seconde /Seconde/ Picture: H. Moser & Cie

We have been impressed by the Endeavour Centre Seconds x Seconde/ Seconde/ which is a type of humorous items you’ve got gained a lot consideration for. Was this a watch that the market wished?

No undoubtedly not! We took a stand at H. Moser & Cie that, if we’ve got a objective it’s to disturb the market, to do issues somewhat otherwise. There are sufficient mainstream manufacturers (serving the market) that may do the remaining. As an impartial model, we’ve got to strive one thing totally different to face out. You understand, we aren’t like MB&F and Urwerk, creating watches which might be so loopy that they communicate for themselves. We now have to do one thing else to speak our concepts and philosophy whereas holding the classicism, class and conventional nature of our watches. That’s not straightforward, and possibly H. Moser & Cie is the one one that might do it.

So how can we do it? Symbolism. That is one thing that we performed with. The Swiss Mad watch was an emblem; the Swiss Alp Watch Zzzz was an emblem; the Moser Nature watch, speaking about sustainability, was an emblem. Seconde/Seconde/ was one thing that we wished to do (in the identical vein). It was one thing we had wished to do for years (and one thing the model did talk about).

Seconde/Seconde/ says cease placing all these strains on the dials (of wristwatches) as if they’re actual devices that folks’s lives rely on. (TImepieces) aren’t guiding ships, and pilots aren’t utilizing flyback chronographs to seek out their means on planes. Immediately, watches are artworks. So cease placing branding messages, directions and certifications on the dial…I see some watches with full directions (and certifications) on the watch and that is what you’ll do on an instrument, as a result of it’s so necessary to (trust within the machine) and to know how one can use it. It is vital for the person’s survival. Right here (with up to date mechanical watches) we’re speaking about one thing no one wants. One thing that’s presupposed to carry emotion. That’s the definition of artwork.

Generally I believe the watch business remains to be caught with this concept that the extra I placed on the dial, the extra I’m prone to promote the watch, or to promote it for the next value. We attempt to actually shift away from all that, and now it’s actually established that H. Moser & Cie is making an attempt to make items of artwork. Now we wished to strengthen that concept so (it’s) with Seconde/Seconde/.

I’ve recognized the artist (Romaric Andre) for awhile, and I like his work. I believe he has an effective way of expressing concepts utilizing symbolism (take a look at his Instagram for instance). A couple of years in the past, I invited him to return to BaselWorld and use our sales space to point out his work; at the moment, I advised him that if he was ever impressed by our model we’d like to work with him. Then he got here up with the concept for the watch – his tackle H. Moser & Cie. It was his thought, not mine, and that’s what I like. It matches what we need to obtain, and it’s his interpretation of the model. To launch it on April 1 was in fact a enjoyable factor to do.

That was enjoyable, and if not for the model’s popularity we would have been fooled! Talking of phrases on the dial, together with numerals and the like, that is one thing manufacturers wish to play with. Collectors reply by elevating some fashions with sure alternative variations. How does H. Moser & Cie play with this provided that the dials are so clear and absolute of their minimalism?

Have a look at the escapement. You’ve got typically a secret purple escapement [Editor’s Note: the purple balance wheel and balance spring on the Venturer Small Seconds, which also has a purple fume dial, for example] or blue or inexperienced. You don’t see it (dial-side) however it’s there. I hope folks say in the future, if the watch is at public sale that ‘oh that was the particular collection the place the escapement was in purple, and nobody even knew’.

I believe that’s extra vital than one thing to do with the signage and different non-functional parts. I like these types of secrets and techniques, fairly than these types of issues which might be simply carried out to make the watch stand out. That is extra our philosophy — one thing extra refined.

I hope the clear emblem could be related. From the primary time we used it, to possibly totally different functions for it. Think about if the second model is possibly much less clear, or one thing like that. There are going to be issues like that, if we handle to proceed to develop this model.

h. moser and cie streamliner perptual calendar
Streamliner Perpetual Calendar. Picture: H. Moser & Cie

Talking of which, you continuously remind us all in regards to the tough instances H. Moser & Cie went by. That is very totally different to most different manufacturers that solely carry up negatives when one asks. Why do you lean into this?

I imagine in transparency. There are loads of codes in Swiss watchmaking; you don’t discuss rivals, you don’t discuss different manufacturers that impressed you, you don’t criticise… I don’t thoughts speaking about what I like… I really like what Jaeger-LeCoultre has carried out this yr, and the dials of Swatch.

The identical factor occurs (in our work)…You understand, I see loads of nice watches right here at Watches & Wonders 2021 that we made the hairsprings for however I’m not allowed to speak about them. We make 200,000 hairsprings a yr and these are actually not all for us. Once we do one thing with Agenhor, we are saying it.

Why not? They’re doing wonderful issues. It’s not going to make H. Moser & Cie watches much less engaging. Quite the opposite, collaborations are thrilling. [Editor’s Note: H. Most & Cie collaborated with Agenhor on the Streamliner Flyback Chronograph last year.]

Equally, possibly there are elements of the model’s historical past which might be much less glamourous, however it’s nonetheless a part of the model’s historical past. We’ve been by the highs and the lows, and we have to acknowledge (each). We don’t thoughts. Sure H. Moser & Cie most likely died within the Eighties, and virtually died in 2012. H. Moser & Cie would most likely be fully totally different if not for (this historical past).

The truth that we acquired so near chapter, and we had to determine how one can innovate with no cash…we discovered so much. We’re rising now and I hope it continues like that. Now that we’re doing nicely, we nonetheless need to watch out — and I believe that may be a good factor. It’s not like we’re all of a sudden going to start out flying folks in for giant events or something — that’s not our means. I at all times remind my crew that there are lots of issues not inside our management. I hope that we’ll proceed to develop, and I believe that we’ll proceed to develop.

On this challenge, we’re discussing sustainability in watchmaking and there are some concepts from manufacturers on recycling and transparency. What’s your perspective and might one model actually cleared the path on this?

I don’t suppose recycling is the way in which to go, and I don’t suppose it will likely be right down to anybody model. Certification and transparency is the way in which to go. Utilizing recycled supplies… this seems like greenwashing to me. It is advisable to take into consideration lowering your carbon footprint; about how sustainable your provide chain is… I believe what makes probably the most sense is the Accountable Jewelry Council (RJC) certification [Editor’s Note: see our Sustainability feature for more on this].

We spent two years and loads of onerous work and auditing to get this certification. Which means that right now we work with RJC-certified suppliers, which suggests they too (are doing the best issues for sustainable manufacturing). We pay extra for licensed sustainable gold, however not a lot… possibly 10% extra, and I ponder why extra manufacturers don’t do that.

So, it needs to be an ecosystem. That is the one technique to make this business greener. It’s not about making proclamations about 100 per cent recycled watches. This doesn’t matter in the event you (aren’t controlling for) all of the parameters. The RJC certification is the easiest way to start out.

Having mentioned that, we aren’t the dirtiest business. Mechanical wristwatches are sustainable merchandise – they will at all times be repaired (or restored). That is versus smartwatches that may get thrown away in a few years. I believe additionally (when it comes to enterprise journey within the commerce) we’ve got seen in 2020 that we are able to do issues with out travelling on a regular basis [Editor’s Note: ordinarily we would have had this conversation in person, probably in Geneva, but Meylan might come to Singapore once or twice a year, perhaps even more often].

You talked about the gala’s [Editor’s Note: we spoke about the relevance of physical watch fairs]… this yr will inform us extra! Now we’ve got no alternative however to experiment. In fact, we nonetheless want to fulfill face-to-face however possibly not as typically.

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