COLUMN – An Apple by any other name is a Moser? A look at the H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch

The definition of Irish Alzheimer’s is when all you can remember are your grudges. Some people just won’t let things go; they develop a grudge and carry it around morning, noon and night. It seems that in their own tongue-in-cheek way, H. Moser & Cie (the present-day “David” of the watch industry) is about to cast a few stones jewels at Goliath! And here, the stones jewels that David hide in his pockets are named the H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch.

An Idyllic Landscape

Everything in the watch industry was going so well. There was a chronometer on every wrist and a tourbillon on every wish list. Then along comes Apple. First they introduced an iPod so small that it was virtually useless as a device to play music on and only found its true calling in life when someone put it on a NATO strap and displayed the time on it. Several years (and billions of dollars in R&D) later we have the Apple Watch. You can’t actually ‘do’ anything with it – but it will tell the time and let you know that you haven to answer your telephone. That said, as with all things Apple, it is a lovely piece of design work. Instantly recognizable as what it is (a wristwatch) though not exactly looking like any other watch you’ve ever seen… well maybe THIS ONE!

In fairness – did anyone at Apple ever come out and say “We HATE watches as they are now and we are going to destroy them so that your children’s children will have to look in a historical archive to see what a mainspring looks like!” Um – no. They just do what Apple does: invade a space and change it up – something like a successful pick-pocketing operation: one person disrupts you by bumping into you. Another person lifts your wallet out of your pocket and hands it to a third person who is walking in a completely different direction so as to avoid inclusion in the trio. The Apple watch has already disrupted the sleep of people like Jean Claude Biver – Tag Heuer has announced their counter attack to the Apple watch. Apple has also caused all of their direct rivals to dump billions of dollars into developing their own whiz-bang smart watches as well. Some, like Hermes have chosen to join the fray in a supporting role – providing their own distinct dials and straps to Apple on an exclusive partnership basis. Others have chosen to ignore the ruckus completely (note that the Stern family – Patek Philippe owners – are not foaming at the mouth to get their digital masterpiece to market any time soon).

I’m not sure how or when but someone at Apple must have really yanked the overcoil of the fine people at H. Moser & Cie. Moser is a brand that I associate with discrete and refined dress watches: relatively low production numbers but made with some of the finest attention to detail, materials and design. For some reason they have taken extreme umbrage to the Apple Watch/smart watch craze. First by posting a cute little video of what is probably the entire company poking gentle fun at all the astounding things you can do with a smartphone/smart watch – all the while never really distracting themselves from doing what they do best: making fine watches by hand.

Now they have introduced THIS!

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch - 1

Some will say it is an abomination. Some will say it is a rip-off. Some will start their countdown timers to the inevitable moment when Apple’s lawyers and unprecedented hoard of cash send Moser to the ignominious grave where brands like Arsa, Sicura and Yema wait to be reborn. Me – I personally say THANK YOU!  Someone has taken the best part of the Apple Watch – the case – and imbued it with something that the boffins in Cupertino could never do – a soul.

Forbidden Fruit

Moser & Cie aren’t trying to invade Apple’s space. Hardly! Instead they are offering the antidote for the smartwatch invasion: a limited run of 50 pieces (not fifty strap, case and dial variations – 50 pieces as in you and 24 of your closest (and richest) friends could buy and wear all of the 38mm (same as the smaller Apple Watch) white gold with smoke dial watches. And if you did go out and buy all 50 watches you could wind them up for an astonishing 200 days (combined) of power reserve [96 hours per watch] which is a monumental amount considering the fact that if you answer a few emails and take a few phone calls with the Apple Watch it will require charging at least everyday.

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch - 4

Un-Original Sin

I live two blocks away from an Apple Store. I decided I would sacrifice my time (and at least 2,988 RMB / 399 Euros / 349 USD) to finally see what all the fuss was about.  So I put on my coat (Shanghai is a bit chilly at the moment) and trundled down the road. I spent about 5 min talking to one of the ever-so-friendly folks at the store and identified that the watch needs to be tethered to a phone in order to do anything other than tell time. It can only spend 30 min in the water (I take baths that go on for days and days!)  The straps on the sports models are kind of yucky and kind of limited. But the final piece of knowledge that cinched the deal was about how Apple introduces new generations of their products every year or so… and that the Apple Watch is ‘about’ a year old.  (Translation – the next generation is probably around the corner.)  [Translation – don’t buy one right now… or in my case – ever.]  When did the pinion become obsolete?

I looked down at my Omega Seamaster Professional and thought: “Hey!  That’s a smart looking watch!”

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch - 2

4 responses

  1. Your Omega Seamaster Professional might look smart, but its days are counted.

  2. Swiss high end “horlogerie”: start copying Spring Drive, and replicate Apple watch! Miserable and pathetic!

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