The Swiss Alp Watch Final Upgrade marks the swan song of Moser’s intrepid Swiss Alp watch. Introduced in 2016, the Swiss Alp watch looked like an Apple watch but never needed recharging thanks to its beautiful mechanical heart – a slightly irreverent yet typically Moser way to promote real Swiss-made watchmaking. The last Swiss Alp Watch bids a dark adieu with its Vantablack® dial and stark conceptual codes (as defined by Moser). Limited to 50 pieces, the Swiss Watch Final Upgrade doesn’t lose its original tongue-in-cheek spirit and even has a small seconds counter that looks very much like the spinning wheel that pops up on screens to indicate that your gadget is hard at work.
Strategies of provocation
A couple of years ago, Moser produced two very unusual watches: one looked like an Apple watch and the other had a case made from 100% Swiss cheese. The Swiss Alp watch was a response to the surge of smartwatches on the market, and the Swiss Mad watch was a snub to the lenient legislation regarding the Swiss Made label for watchmaking. Both watches were accompanied by refreshingly entertaining advertising campaigns. “The result of over 200 years of research and development,” says CEO Edouard Meylan in the video, “the Swiss Alp Watch will not only allow you to reconnect with people, it might simply change the world… The watch has state-of-the-art ergonomics, a simple interface, and features the most essential application for your most valuable commodity: the time. With no phone, no messaging, no sketches or heartbeats to send, the Swiss Alp Watch will change your life. It will let you reconnect with people by getting out there… So get a life, upgrade to a mechanical watch“.
The funny thing is that the Swiss Alp watch made it beyond the ‘poking fun at smartwatches’ stage and developed a life of its own. Appearing in different guises since 2016, including a dazzling ‘on the rocks’ model with graduated blue sapphires and diamonds to emulate the pixellated screen of an Apple watch and two models named Zzzz and Brrr, the watch definitely had traction.
Redefining the Concept watch
For most of us, concept watches are those one-off, highly technical show-off pieces that might or might not make it into production. At Moser, the word ‘concept’ is flipped upside down and inside out and is used to describe the brand’s distinctive minimalist dials. Concept watches at Moser, like this Endeavour tourbillon, have practically nothing on the dial and revel in their stark, bare beauty.
Mourning the passing of the Swiss Alp watch
Dressed in mourning from head to toe, the black dial of the last Swiss Alp watch is made from Vantablack®, the darkest artificial substance on Earth capable of absorbing over 99% of radiation in the visible spectrum. Like a black hole, when light strikes Vantablack® it is trapped, deflected and absorbed among the forest of billions of nanotubes. Used primarily in aerospace and defence, Vantablack® has been used before at Moser on the Endeavour Perpetual Moon Concept watch to dramatic effect.
Used on the dial of the Swiss Alp Watch, Vantablack® reproduces the appearance of a smartwatch in standby mode. Even the hands are blackened making the time devilishly difficult to read in certain light conditions, but perfectly in tune with Meylan’s philosophy that it is time to reconnect to the important things in life – i.e., not technological gadgets!
Note that the video above has been accelerated to enhance the effect.
The illusion of a smartwatch in standby mode is further enhanced by the small seconds counter at 6 o’clock. With its 12 markers, its design looks like the animated wheel that pops up on digital devices to show you that the system is busy downloading or working on something. Technically known as a radial line throbber, the spinning wheel is recreated with 12 cut-out areas on the dial that acquires motion thanks to the revolutions of a shaded disc below deck.
Following suit, the rectangular steel case (38.2mm x 44mm with a height of 10.5mm) has a black DLC coating and like other models, evokes the smooth rounded lines of an Apple watch. Completing the dark look is a black alligator strap with a steel pin buckle.
The sapphire caseback reveals the superb shaped manufacture movement and provides ample reasons to take the Swiss Alp watch seriously. The manual-winding calibre HMC324 runs at a slow 18,000 vibrations per hour and boasts a 4-day/96-hour power reserve. The balance with regulating screws features an original Straumann hairspring with Breguet overcoil. It is manufactured with Precision Engineering AG, Moser’s sister company. As always, the hand-finishings are superlative with the brand’s signature double stripes and beautiful bevels. The movement indicates hours, minutes and running seconds and there is a power reserve indicator on the movement side.
Moser has gotten a lot of mileage from its Swiss Alp watch urging us to disconnect from the tyranny of electronic devices and get back to the important connections in life. Beyond the uplifting message, the watch is objectively beautiful and complies with Moser’s impeccable watchmaking credentials. As much as I have enjoyed the earlier renditions of the Swiss Alp watch – especially the ones with gradient dials -, this one skirts dangerously close to the original Apple watch. With its impossibly black, empty dial and working wheel, it might well be mistaken as a smartwatch in standby mode. What would happen then if Apple mimicked Moser and produced a smartwatch with a virtual mechanical movement on the caseback?
Availability & Price
The H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Alp Watch Final Upgrade is limited to 50 pieces and retails for EUR 27,000. More details and orders at www.h-moser.com.