On the occasion of Dubai Watch Week 2021, we sat down with Edouard Meylan of H. Moser & Cie. Since he was named CEO in 2013, the brand became one of the prominent players among high-end independent watchmakers, with an original approach combining traditional Haute Horlogerie, distinctive design and disruptive marketing initiatives.
Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME – What does Dubai Watch Week represents for Moser?
Edouard Meylan, CEO of H. Moser & Cie – I first came in 2014. Back then, we met a few people and most of the questions were like: “What is Moser? Where do you come from, I never heard of that brand?”, We had discussion, there was the forum, people would come and listen to us during the panels… The second time, we presented a limited edition, a little bit more people came and we have been six times now into it. Everybody knows the independent brands. Everybody knows exactly what products they want. People know a lot about our history… It is an amazing platform. Plus, this is a special year, because there were not many other watch events. But we have people coming from the UK, from Europe, even a handful managed to come from Asia, and naturally people from all over the Middle East… It is way beyond a regional event. The audience is now global.
Could you tell us about the limited edition watch you are presenting here?
We’re launching the Heritage Bronze “Since 1828”. We like every now and then to create something around our history. Heritage is the platform for that. And this year we decided to do a capsule using our Cyrillic logo, which is a logo we only used once in recent years, in 2017. It’s a logo that was used by Moser when it was quite powerful in the 19th century in Russia. And we feel it’s an interesting way for us to express that Moser is not a 21st-century brand but has roots going as far back as 1828. We never really use our creation date. If you look at the signature, or claim of Moser Watches, it’s “very rare”. It does not incorporate a creation date as many other brands do.
A word about the brand itself. We have been 2 years into the pandemic and Moser seems stronger than ever?
I think it’s not because of the COVID19 pandemic specifically, but I think it was the time for Moser to shine. We’ve been working very hard over the past years in creating something relevant in all aspects. In particular for our collection, now with of four pillars, the Endeavour, the Pioneer, the Heritage and the Streamliner. The offering is incredible for an independent brand. I think from a marketing standpoint, we are very digital, very engaged. We have a huge community, and all those things suddenly come together and then make the brand shine in a positive way.
The launch of the Streamliner was an important step in that respect?
Probably, yes. It brought a new audience, definitely. I think it is the same for all the brands that have captured the segment of integrated steel bracelet watches. But still, the vast majority of what we sell is the traditional product.
But indeed, the Streamliner bought a new audience. The Streamliner was the first collection to trade on the secondary market above retail price and then Pioneer and the Heritage followed. I think it contributed to a kind of snowball effect. More people see it, the more they want it, the more they want it, the more they talk about it, the more they talk about it, the more people hear about it, the more people hear about it, the more people want it. Then suddenly you have this huge crowd and it’s crazy. It’s something that we never anticipated, and it’s amazing to experience that. It is a different way of managing your business.
This leads me to ask about your marketing. Would it be correct to say that if Moser still feels a brand off-the-beaten-track, you are a little bit less unconventional or “provocative”?
To me, a brand is like a human being. There is a life cycle. There is the childhood, the teenage years, and that’s where emancipation is important. And then you need to make your own space, to assert your independence, to assert who you are. In 2012, when I took over, the brand was well-regarded but nobody knew it. It was important for us to get people to know what we stand for. What is independence for us? What are our values? What is the value of traditional watchmaking? We tried to express this our way, sometimes in a provocative way. That was, I would say, the teenage years of Moser.
Today it is a bit different because I think most other people know Moser and understand what Moser stands for. The questions are now “How do we talk about what we do well?” “How do we talk about our heritage?” How to express these things using the Moser tone, we less need to be activists. We don’t believe in that or this is the way we should go. I think we expressed that until 2019, and I think now we’re in a phase where it’s more about ourselves.
What is the next challenge now for Moser?
It’s getting direct-to-consumer. I think it’s getting to continue to engage with our community, offer even better service, closer to them with boutiques and with our partners. So that’s the process that we have started out with my brother.
How many watches are you manufacturing today?
we are producing 1,500 watches by year. The number might keep growing, of course. But most of all, increasing the perceived value is important to us. That’s what we’re focusing on. Integrating the few crafts that we were sometimes outsourcing. Manufacturing dials is one of the next steps in our integration. We are investing in our production tool. We master the hairspring and the whole regulating organ, the bridges, the main plates… and we keep working to go even deeper into owning, mastering everything we need in-house.
For more information, please visit www.h-moser.com.