Edouard Meylan of H Moser & Cie isn’t stuck in time

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How the CEO of unbiased watchmaker H Moser & Cie makes use of humour and a Marie Kondo-like obsession with decluttering to woo a brand new technology of collectors

I perceive irony, let me in. That is the immediate to enter the Pioneer Chronicles web site launched three years in the past by Swiss watchmaker, H. Moser & Cie. If you’re not feeling the vibe, click on on I’ve no humour, let me out to exit.

Injecting humour within the watch trade

A lot has been written lately about humour being employed as an efficient instrument to market luxurious. However the irreverence you now see in a Valentino or Gucci on-line marketing campaign was served up a lot earlier by the virtually 200-year-old unbiased watchmaker primarily based in Schaffhausen.

 

Edouard Meylan, H Moser & Cie’s CEO and proprietor since MELB Holding Group took over in 2012, is taken into account by some as a provocateur within the watchmaking world. In 2017, the engineer and Wharton MBA made headlines because the Swiss CEO who normal a high quality be careful of cheese, an inside joke protesting the Swiss authorities’s laws on the time to outline what’s ‘Swiss Made’.

Moser’s Swiss Mad Watch had actual Swiss cheese in resin for the case, a strap from home cowhide and the worth tag of 1,081,291 francs (Switzerland was based on August 1, 1291). It was auctioned at Christie’s.

 

A yr earlier at SIHH, Meylan had created a stir when he launched the Swiss Alp Watch, a dig at linked watches (fairly, the Apple Watch). It was Moser’s response to that huge query directed at watchmakers then — will smartwatches destroy the watch trade?

Dapper and outspoken, Meylan, 44, has since starred in a lot of his quirky campaigns (rocking a pink beanie for the Swiss Mad Watch video or biting into an ‘apple’ and calling the Endeavor Perpetual Calendar Funky Blue ‘‘the unique smartwatch’’ in one other promo). However past the cheeky advertising, the CEO has a knack for presenting very quick runs of a tidy variety of hanging and clutter-free watches.

Laborious to overlook these fumé dials in a lineup (significantly in variations of blue), you’d agree. Or downplay the mechanical mastery; all actions are manufactured in-house, together with the hairspring.

Code minimalism

“I’m somebody who likes minimalism and symmetry. As numerous manufacturers are attempting to make watches look sophisticated, we wish to create watches which might be so simple as doable to make use of and to learn,” begins Meylan once we get him on a video name with The Hindu Weekend throughout Geneva Watch Days (GWD) earlier this month. In one in all his customized slim fits and going through a financial institution of lights and cameras for marathon video interviews, he is able to speak concerning the Streamliner Perpetual Calendar, one other residence run for Moser.

Streamliner Perpetual Calendar

Retailed at approx ₹39.5 lakh, it’s a fusion between their Streamliner that was launched early final yr and their perpetual calendar motion. “I need any watch from Moser to appear like a three-hand watch, even when it’s a perpetual calendar, a chronograph, a tourbillon or minute repeater. Thus the decision-making course of is far simpler,” continues Meylan about some of the talked about watches at Geneva Watch Days.

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Curiously, with the centre seconds show and clear design philosophy, one could not realise at first look that every one the info for this perpetual calendar is properly accommodated (months, date, energy reserve indicator). With a faintly seen emblem in clear lacquer, fumé dial, sporty pink accents, the built-in metal bracelet, and the motion powering it being HMC 812, it’s no marvel the watch has a reserving interval shut to 2 years. “We’re firstly of this assortment, so we have to create an id, be constant and keep on with the identical codes throughout the totally different fashions,” he explains.

Streamliner Perpetual Calendar

A busy pandemic yr

Upbeat concerning the model navigating the pandemic – it grew by 12% final yr — Meylan provides that they’ve been most efficient. They arrange a web based platform inside two weeks of lockdown — “we promote 10 % of our manufacturing direct now” — and proceeded to announce a number of unconventional collaborations over the subsequent few months. The one with Max Büsser’s MB&F noticed two watches that have been distinct, but with a standard DNA.

In February this yr got here the Swiss Alp Watch Ultimate Improve, marking the top of the collection, with Moser’s calibre HMC 324 and a dial created from Vantablack— the darkest materials ever identified, because it absorbs 99.9 % of sunshine. However the buzz was across the seconds show at 6 o’clock, a reference to the loading wheel on Apple’s merchandise. At $30,800, the 50 items offered out immediately; in an interview with Austrian watch journalist Alexander Linz, Meylan noticed that the Ultimate Improve was promoting within the secondary market at double the worth.

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Erasing litter

Moser’s April Idiot’s Day announcement this yr, one thing of a convention now, noticed the Endeavour Idea Watch collab with Parisian artist seconde/seconde/. This time there have been no numerals or emblem on the dial, simply their Funky Blue fumé with sunburst sample and the hour hand formed like a pixelated eraser. Restricted to 20 items, it was one other reminder of the model’s technique to hold it deceptively easy. And their means to have a bit of enjoyable, even whereas delivering the products, one thing of a rarity within the severe watch trade. It’s what the Moser tribe world wide connects with.

Endeavour Centre Seconds Concept X seconde-seconde

Impressed with their progressive merchandise and refreshingly sincere advertising, Stephen Foskett, the founding father of Grail Watch, tells me, “As a watch purchaser I like H Moser & Cie’s option to de-emphasise their emblem and let the product stand for itself. Those that know H Moser & Cie will admire their watches, and people who don’t by no means will anyway.”

What’s it that manufacturers like Moser, Czapek and others can capitalise on, particularly at watch gala’s and occasions like Watches & Wonders the place the conglomerates are in full attendance? “One of the best transfer for high-end luxurious manufacturers is to attach with their purchasers like by no means earlier than,” explains Foskett, who can also be a historian and author. “They’ll by no means compete with the large teams so Czapek, Moser, Parmigiani, and the remaining ought to discover their purchaser, deal with their needs, and construct lasting relationships.”

The Streamliner Centre Seconds in steel and Matrix Green fumé dial.

The Streamliner Centre Seconds in metal and Matrix Inexperienced fumé dial.
 
| Picture Credit score: Particular Association

In the meantime in India

Meylan definitely is aware of tips on how to construct relationships. His affiliation with Pranav Saboo, CEO of Ethos, India’s largest luxurious watch retailer, goes again 17 years. On a go to to the nation in 2019, the daddy of 4 sat down for a promotional video with Saboo, and talked about all the pieces from the cows he encountered on Indian roads to his first wristwatch. The latter was “a small mechanical watch with a blue dial”, if you’re questioning, a Lemania, identified for its unimaginable actions. And it was given to him by his father, Georges-Henri Meylan, the chairman of MELB Holding and former CEO of Audemars Piguet.

Moser has a small however robust following in India, the place the watch market dimension is ₹7000 crores. Their watches are retailed at round ₹10 lakh onwards right here, and trade specialists agree it’s a model many Indian collectors spend money on properly after the ‘Huge 4’, typically Rolex and Patek Philippe.

Moser Nature Watch, a 2019 sustainability statement

Extra lately in Might, Meylan linked over video with the Mumbai chapter of RedBar, a worldwide organisation of watch-obsessed collectors, the place he mentioned current developments. “I work together with numerous Moser followers and purchasers and I do know them higher than if I journey to India annually, meet them head to head and neglect their identify and face the subsequent day. The (social media) deal with is an effective way to create a dialogue.”

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Mohamed Muraj, a London-based advertising skilled and founding father of Watch Membership on Clubhouse, agrees that Meylan has made the model extra dynamic and recent. “I used to be internet hosting a Clubhouse room through the (current) Swiss Alp Watch announcement and Edouard Meylan joined the room, completely impromptu,” he recollects, including, “All I may hear was the fervour and entrepreneurialism of making the piece and that modified our perspective. That’s what an unbiased watch model presents, for my part.”

Bodily connections

Meylan plans to go to India later this yr, however is at present engaged on introducing Moser lounges globally as bodily touchpoint, together with in Dubai and the US, and shortly, mono-brand boutiques. “In the meantime we now have pop-up shops in China, and who is aware of, there could also be one in India quickly. Provide is an enormous situation for us in the meanwhile, so earlier than we open many factors of gross sales, together with boutiques, we have to first enhance our manufacturing capability,” he provides. The model makes only one,500 watches per yr. Final yr, he advised Fortune journal that that they had diminished the time taken to assemble a perpetual calendar from 90 hours to 30 hours.

Clearly, this can be a CEO who is aware of precisely the place he’s taking his model.