Please read Swiss Mad, not Swiss Made. Recently, the high-end, yet irreverent, watchmaker H. Moser & Cie. reported to us their wish to get rid of the “Swiss Made” inscription on the dial of their watches, as well as the upcoming launch of the most Swiss Watch ever created. Yes, as few might know, “Swiss Made” doesn’t mean 100% made in Switzerland. And this is something Edouard Meylan (the brand’s CEO) sees as a betrayal towards customers. Well, now that we know the announcement, it is time to see what all that noise really means. The answer sits in two watches, including a concept piece, the Swiss Mad Watch, a 100% Swiss Made watch, from Swiss Materials (including a Swiss cheese case and a Swiss cow strap…) and the Venturer Swiss Mad, a more traditional commercial piece, yet 100% Swiss Made too. And if you want to know, yes it is bold, yes it irreverent, yes it is a gimmick, yes it is kind of stupid, but, (oh yes!) it is a superb move to shake up that sleeping industry.
It seems that to understand thoroughly the idea and the mood in which the people at H. Moser & Cie. are now, there are no better words than those from Edouard Meylan, the CEO of the brand, in that voluntarily provocative and highly symbolic video (ironic humor mode activated).
The “Swiss Made” debate
Ok, now that you’ve seen the point, let’s go back to more serious matters. In the first article we published, we went through all the ins-and-outs of that quite overrated notion that is “Swiss Made” and its evolution since the 1st of January, 2017. In short, before this date, a watch could be stamped Swiss Made if at least 50% of a watch’s value is realized in Switzerland. Additionally, the movement must be Swiss, the movement must be cased in Switzerland, final inspection must be done in Switzerland (the Swiss Federal Council defines a movement as Swiss: if it has been assembled in Switzerland, if it has been inspected by the manufacturer in Switzerland and if its components made in Switzerland represent over 50% of its value). Basically, it means that to be Swiss Made, only 50% of the added value of a watch must come from parts manufactured in Switzerland – and that means that the rest, bought for much cheaper prices, can come from basically anywhere, including China. And because we talk added value and not quality, it means that you can buy few expensive parts in Switzerland and many cheap ones in China, and still you’ll be under this 50% regulation. Now I’m sure you have another idea of what is the “Swiss Made” concept.
As of the 1st of January, 2017, the rule changed slightly, to now have at least 60% of the production costs of a watch taken as a whole Swiss-based. The movement must still contain at least 50% of Swiss-made components in value (not in quantity) and at least 60% of the movement’s production must be generated in Switzerland. Finally, the technical development of a “Swiss Made” watch and movement must be carried out in Switzerland (which includes Smart Watches). So, this better but still not what you can call a 100% Swiss Made watch.
Moser’s decision to get rid of “Swiss Made”
The main problem for some is that notion of Swiss Made is used by all kinds of brands, including low-end or ultra-high-end brands. It indeed doesn’t reflect the reality of the work done by those who actually do more than the 60% barrier, somehow justifying a higher price or a certain exclusivity. One of them is H. Moser & Cie., and for a long time already, they are manufacturing watches that are close to 100% made in Switzerland (around 95%), with in-house parts or with Swiss suppliers. Thus, this is the reason why sharing this “Swiss Made” notion with some low-end brands supplied by Eastern-countries firms is not that relevant anymore – and on a personal side, I do understand the frustration of a team working hard to create high-end, Swiss and expensive products when some use the same “quality label” (which Swiss Made is not in reality) as brands with poor content.
This is why Moser and its CEO, Edouard Meylan, decided recently to announce the removal of the Swiss Made label from their watches. This is what we explained to you here. Alongside this announcement, they also claimed that they were about to launch the most Swiss watch ever, and that’s why we end up today with this article, talking Swiss cheese and Swiss cows… No, we’re not high. It’s a serious game, turned into an irony but still with an unpleasant background.
The H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Mad Watch, the Most Swiss Watch Ever, with a Swiss Cheese case
I never thought that once in my watch-journalist life, I’ll end up talking cheese and cows. And still, this what I’m about to do. What you look at is a gimmick, a message, a symbol to be regarded with irony, in the shape of a unique concept watch named the Moser Swiss Mad Watch. What you have here is a watch that is not only 100% made in Switzerland (meaning that all the parts and the assembly are done in Switzerland by Moser or by Swiss suppliers) but it is also the watch that most uses Swiss resources. Simply because steel, brass or gold normally used to created watches can’t be found in Switzerland, Moser decided to rely on one of the most precious Swiss resources that exists: cows (yes, cows).
So what can you do with Swiss cows? Well the most obvious is indeed using its skin to make the strap, instead of the usual alligator leather. This is why you have here a cowhide leather strap with that typical black and white color. Well, you can do more apparently, as cows are also used to craft the case. The case of the Moser Swiss Mad Watch is created from real Swiss cheese as a base material, a Vacherin Mont d’Or médaille d’or, added to an innovative composite material, itr2©, then machined and polished. And no, it doesn’t sink, it doesn’t stink and it’s not going to crumble – and no, you can’t eat the watch, greedy you! Despite being cheese, the case will be stable and can be used as any other watch. The material is resistant, yet really looking cheesy (which is obviously the point).
As for the dial, the Moser Swiss Mad Watch is finished with a red fumé dial and doubled indices at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, reminiscent of the Swiss flag. Inside the Swiss Cheese case (I’ll never get used to write these words) is a 100% Swiss Made movement, the classical hand-wound 3-day power reserve movement of Moser, with their own regulating organ and most parts being produced internally (and if not, they come from Swiss suppliers only).
To end up with the symbolic approach, the Moser Swiss Mad Watch, which will be officially presented at the SIHH 2017, will be priced at 1,081,291 Swiss Francs (as a reference to signing of the Swiss Federal Charter on August 1st, 1291). Know that all proceeds from the sale of this watch will be used to create a fund to support independent Swiss watchmaking suppliers currently suffering under the difficult economic situation. No clue if anyone will have the guts to pay that price but if you have large bank accounts and if you love Swiss craftsmanship, that’s a good way to help. On the other hand, I know one brand that has the guts to say loud what everybody in the industry knows and keep secret. Sorry, I know this watch is quite stupid and is a complete gimmick, but what is behind is just brilliant. Well done.
The H. Moser & Cie. Venturer Swiss Mad
Ok this was for the fun and symbolic part. However, alongside this first watch, there’s also another statement piece, though more realistic, the H. Moser & Cie. Venturer Swiss Mad. Again, the idea is to have 100% Swiss Made watch, this time in a more classical approach, with a traditional white gold case, which means a watch made with material that don’t necessarily originate from but are nevertheless produced or transformed in Switzerland, by Swiss craftsmen, including Moser. This watch uses material such as gold, steel or brass (which can’t be mined in Switzerland) but all the process of manufacturing, finishing and an assembly is “helvetic”.
Based on the traditional Venturer watch, with a 39mm case in 18k gold (produced by a Swiss case-maker), Moser uses the same “Swiss-inspired” red fumé dial with white indices than the Swiss Mad Watch and the same cowhide leather strap. Inside is the same 3-day power reserve movement, once again entirely produced in Switzerland, with parts machined and finished by Moser or some Swiss suppliers.
The H. Moser & Cie. Venturer Swiss Mad will be officially showed during the SIHH 2017 and will be available in a limited edition of 50 pieces, priced at 19,500 Swiss Francs. Once again, it is an act of resistance, a strong statement and a watch that simply claim and defend its origins. More details on h-moser.com.