When pondering what defines an H. Moser watch, the H. Moser & Cie Heritage Perpetual Moon isn’t necessarily what would first come to mind. And that’s precisely why we’re having a closer look with this write-up.
In a nutshell, this watch is an ode to watchmaking, a tribute to the art of watchmaking – and a very well executed one indeed. The watch draws its inspiration from the old H. Moser pocket watches from way back (hence the ‘heritage’ in the name). And while at first glance the watch appears classic and restrained, upon closer inspection a whole set of subtle details become more apparent.
The case is in 18K white gold which gives it that extra bit of luster. The crown is on the larger side and has distinct grooves. Add to that the wire lugs which are a clear nod to the past and you have a ‘heritage’ watch that is on point.
Now, flip the watch on the side and a whole new world of finishing opens up:
The sides on any Moser watch always offer some sort of detail & interest. On this particular watch, they did just that and took it the extra mile. Do you see that blue paint? Yes, it’s blue alright, but that’s not paint, it’s enamel. Beautiful execution and a detail that adds a very luxurious feel to the overall watch. This is not something you’ll see every day, and it works very well with the diamond-like engraving below the surface. This type of finishing is quite frankly gorgeous and you have to see it in real life to really appreciate the wonderful execution.
Next up, you have the white dial & blue hands. The white dial however, is a grand feu enamel dial. In practice, that means that in order to make one dial (requiring a delicate balance between the intense heat and power) they are likely to first mess up quite a few. As a result, these dials are not only difficult to make, but also cost an extra penny or two. Grand feu is french for either ‘pain in the …’ or ‘big fire’, I forgot. But yes, it is a ‘bit’ of a pain to master this technique. The way these dials are made is by essentially cooking, or rather ‘baking’, enamel powder layer by layer on the dial at extremely high temperatures (over 900°C). It is a specialized technique which requires experienced artisans to ensure the dials are ‘baked’ to perfection. Just like your steak, it’s very easy to under or overcook these. Getting them ‘just right’ is where the difficulty lies and is an extremely time-consuming process. The resulting finish is one of a white yet creamy dial with a certain warmth to it, rather impossible to appreciate based on pictures alone. Add to that the hand painted blue roman numerals paired with the heat-blued hands, and you have the essence of a high end watch face.
The moon phase indicator is executed in typical Moser fashion, with a twist. The representation of the lunar cycle is seen in a large window at 6 o-clock. In a clean & easy to read format with an accuracy achieved by few: One day’s deviation in every 1027 years. If you look closely, you’ll see a very small and discrete arrow pointing to 9-o’clock. This is the AM & PM indicator: the hour indices from 12 to 6 o’clock represent AM from midnight to midday and the left side of the dial indicates PM from 1 pm to midnight. Very subtle, very clever.
The watch is powered by the calibre HMC 801, a manual winding perpetual moon phase movement. Catching the eye is Moser’s ingenious interchangeable escapement module. Developed by – and unique to – Moser. Developed for ease of adjusting, cleaning & servicing, “enabling the watchmaker to remove the existing module, clean and oil the rest of the movement before installing a new pre-adjusted module”. The entire escapement module is held in place by the two highlighted screws. Another quite exceptional detail, the ‘Straumann’ hairspring is entirely produced in-house. Note also the power-reserve indicator, flanked by the barrels resulting in a 7-day power reserve.
In true Moser fashion, the movement is also manufactured in-house and has a finish fit for Haute Horlogerie. Note the use of the gold chatons which are visually very satisfying. The Geneva stripes alternate between wide and narrow, edges are nicely finished and the movement has a certain visual balance to it with the lovely flowing line separating the main bridges. I could watch this all day:
Overall, a lovely (or lovingly) executed timepiece which succeeds in its mission to pay tribute to ‘exceptional artisan watchmaking’ while at the same time bringing a certain freshness to it which is that other Moser trademark.
When I first saw this watch, I thought “Is this still a Moser watch?”. Moser, to me, stands for beautifully manufactured movements, exceptional (fumé) dials and a watchmaker that makes it his mission to be different and fresh in an industry often shackled by its own traditions. Looking through all the details that went into the execution, I have to say: Yes, this is very much, a Moser watch.