Today I’m talking with a long-time friend about his H. Moser & Cie. Pioneer with a striking blue dial; Andrew McUtchen. You might know him as the co-founder of Time+Tide, but also co-founder of the Fatherhood, and he’s what I’d call a true watch buddy. After a career at GQ Australia, he was crazy enough to try and make a living as a watch blogger (we have something in common here…) and he loves to wear his beloved H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds Midnight Blue Dial on a custom Kudu strap (which is not used on most of the photos here, but you get the idea). According to the Aussie, H. Moser & Cie. is “sizzle and steak. And fries. And a funny waiter, too!” No clue what he means by that, but let’s find out.
Frank Geelen, MONOCHROME Watches – Do you remember when you first laid eyes on Moser watches?
Andrew McUtchen, Tide+Tide – I don’t exactly recall. My early impressions were of a high-end small “indie” brand, precious metals, marketing stunts, flat out amazing fumé dials. The prominence of the brothers Meyland also stood out. I had the sense they were taking the industry on, enjoying shaking things up. None of these things necessarily made me a potential buyer. Then I saw it in the case at SIHH. It was a lightning bolt. Weirdly, I didn’t want to photograph it, and fuss over it. You know, let the desire build and all that more common stuff. I just wanted to buy it.
What is it you admire in this brand?
If some brands are all sizzle, and no steak, Moser is sizzle AND the best fucking steak you’ve had in years. With fries. And a very funny waiter, too. The thing about Moser that can catch you completely off guard is that they are deadly, clinically, soulfully serious about the quality of their watches. For an “irreverent” brand, they sure are reverent about quality. Often indies have charming quirks and human flaws that reflect their more human origins. Not Moser. They are Rolex-level perfect, and a macro lens will show you can’t get close enough.
And why did this particular watch stand out to you?
The dial is ridiculous, but for me, it’s all about the case. It’s a masterpiece of masculine design. Muscular. Elegant. Shapely. And rich with nuanced detail, like those scalloped, ribbed apertures in the case-middle. It’s big too, which appealed to me at the time being a bit of a slab of Aussie myself. My tastes have evolved in line with the trends, and I’m more into 40mm now than I was. However, the identity of this watch is as a showstopper. It’s just a fact. Hands down the most commented on watch in my collection. Perhaps the smaller Pioneer so many of us hanker for will lose that gravitas?
Where did you buy it?
I bought it from the Australian distributor. I saw it at SIHH at the Moser booth. My head started spinning. I called the rep from my next appointment (at A. Lange & Söhne) and ordered it there and then. I did ask if they could possibly modify it with a pink gold rotor but that wasn’t possible for engineering reasons, apparently. I meekly asked then, any chance I could have it on a Kudu strap? Despite the size and robustness (120m WR) and rubber strap, I saw the Pioneer as some kind of a dress watch hack. Weird, I know. I wanted a leather strap for it, and not just anyone. Moser Kudu straps are crazy.
The looks. The finishing. And the fact that the Moser brothers agreed to the Kudu were absolutely decisive to buy it. For me, it also represented a new era in my watch tastes. I was starting to seek watches whose discovery was all mine. Not advertised. Not hyped. Not on multiple wrists in a room. I loved their tagline, ‘Very Rare’. I wanted my first very rare watch. Apart from all that, it’s the most ‘me’ Moser.
Does your watch get a lot of wrist time?
I wear it most commonly with a suit. True to my weird hack, I really like it as a dress watch – the size, mirror-polished indices, enigmatic dial colour, comfort on the wrist. Why the hell not?
And it’s my most commented on watch, probably because it’s so “there” on the wrist. The strap also tends to get comments. It’s so lovely, with lots of little animal marks and spots. Watch people of course go crazy for it. I tell you what, this watch owns a sexpile*, no matter who’s in it. (*sexpile: a glistening pile of really, really expensive watches)
Is there a particular moment you recall wearing the watch?
Wearing it at the Manufacture and the Moser museum was pretty cool. Highly recommend visiting if you ever get a chance. I felt part of something very impressive, and multidimensional. There’s history and the smell of old books/rich mahogany. But there’s also lots of sexy engineering. Watching a hairspring get pulled was rad. But boring. Very slowwwwwww. Also, wearing this watch led to the one and only occasion of me being snapped in a fashion piece for Hodinkee.
Do you know the current market value of the watch?
I find Moser resale prices a bit mystifying. To me, they have the potential to be on a level with Journe and others in terms of their rarity, quality and invariable cult-watch potential. In my opinion, that’s where they should be. But, resale is often not as high as it should be. And this one is hard to assess for current market value as there aren’t many around, especially since it was discontinued. In terms of price paid, I’m in the industry so it wasn’t retail (let’s keep it real), but it was also some distance from wholesale. I was recently offered a couple of grand over retail (the Moser Kudu strap is custom, which makes it unique) by someone in our HQ suburb of Richmond. Didn’t even consider it. It’s in my “not for sale” category.
Are you looking to buy other brands, models?
I have an attraction to the Swiss Alp Watch Minute Repeater Concept (in sensible Vanta Black) for being the most absurd watch maybe ever that is STILL a work of intense, perfectly finished artistry. I dream of both MB&F creations. Sweet, sweet dreams.
Your site is booming. Do you see a rise in the number of people collecting?
Yes. It’s addictive, it’s time-consuming, and people have had more time than usual in Covid. We’ve seen more people on the site than ever. The other thing is, if you play the game a certain way, it can be lucrative. And, unlike cars, or guitars, you can wear your beloved pieces, so it’s a perfect storm of dopamine hits (from all the new and the shiny and the next), trading fun and killing time in a most enjoyable way. The last thing people discover about watches is that it allows you to connect with new people. The community factor is real.
Any tips for other collectors?
When it comes to finally throwing down on a Moser, don’t overthink it. Once you’re on the other side, and you’re an owner, surprising things will happen. I don’t know if you remember our “Watch & Act” Auction in aid of the Aussie bushfires last year. (Thanks Monochrome for supporting). But in that experience, Adam Clayton from U2 popped up and offered his personal watch for the auction. Like I said, surprising things happen when you’re Team Moser.
Anyway, if you want to collect, just start. It’s not a money thing anymore. You can collect Seiko watches and sit at the Collector Table. You can hunt down vintage Enicar, Glycine, many many fantastic brands, and not necessarily get served divorce papers for bankrupting the family as a result. As you get passionate and knowledgeable, you’ll start to spot good buys, wherever you’re buying. And then, with gains, you start to have more fun, because you’re reading the game. Or, you can do it without any intention for it to pay you back. That’s cool too. The most interesting collections can just be watches that have curious personal stories attached. It may have nothing to do with money whatsoever.
You write a lot about watches. Do you ever get bored?
There are definitely points when I get bored. It’s usually in the melee of heaps of new releases at once – like watch fairs. When, more often than not, it becomes about small changes, and nothing substantial happening in terms of story. Don’t give me dial variations and expect an article! When there’s a story, and when it’s a good one, I get lit up all over again. The magic comes back.
photos by Dale Mracek @mracekproductions