Feature: The Watch Stunt That Went Very Wrong!
In 2018, H. Moser & Cie unveiled a one-off watch that couldn’t have looked more different from its usual minimalist creations. It was agony on the eyes, something Picasso might have conjured up on a crystal meth bender.
This thing was a horological carbuncle, as unwearable as it was hideous—although that was kind of the point.
Labelled the ‘Swiss Icons Watch’, it was a model that ‘paid tribute’ to some of the industry’s greatest models in the most monstrous way imaginable. People talk about ‘Frankenwatches’, as in watches comprising a mixture of fake and real components passed off as genuine. Well, this was a watch that made your average Frankenwatch look like a Calatrava.
A demented visual mash-up of some of the most familiar watches around, it featured a Pepsi bezel from a Rolex GMT Master that was shaped like a Royal Oak, Panerai-style numerals and crown guard, a Patek Philippe Nautilus-effect dial and Breguet hands, as well as a sly nod to IWC with its logo.
Worst fake Chinese watch ever made? Or a sarcastic tribute to Swiss icons?
However, the icing on the cake—and if this watch really was a cake it would be an unpalatable mix of Battenburg, cherry bakewell and chocolate éclair, smothered in mayonnaise—was the tourbillon, complete with Girard Perregaux-style gold bridge. The tourbillon was actually well executed and would have looked perfectly nice on a plain dial. Instead, it resembled a blooming red rose among a steaming pile of dog excrement.
We’re not sure what kind of response H. Moser & Cie were expecting; suffice to say it went down like a concrete Zeppelin.
An Unfortunate Misunderstanding?
Some people thought H. Moser & Cie were biting the hand that fed them. Who were they, a relatively small-time independent brand, to mock the giants of the industry?
Others thought it was simply a naff thing to do, something unworthy of a serious watchmaker. Other stunts by H. Moser & Cie—no, this wasn’t the first—include a watch made from cheese! The brand also made a mechanical homage to the Apple watch in white gold, while their weird Nature Watch had miniature live plants sprouting out of it, making the wearer look as though they were about to transition into a tree.
H. Moser & Cie took a bite out of Apple with this familiar-looking model
No one’s saying that the often-staid watch industry doesn’t need a dose of humour now and again, but the Swiss Icons Watch was deemed a step too far.
We could sort of see what H. Moser & Cie was trying to do and the objective was honourable. It wanted to celebrate a bunch of cool iconic watches while simultaneously warning against the constant regurgitation of classic designs. And H. Moser & Cie certainly does like to lecture other watch brands, having previously criticised everything from A-list brand ambassadors to artificial hype.
‘The message’, it said in a statement, after retracting the watch and pulling it from SIHH, where it was to be officially presented and auctioned off for charity, ‘was unfortunately sometimes misunderstood’.
So What Happened To The Watch?
Let’s face it, the ‘Swiss Icons Watch’ was a PR slip-up that shouldn’t have gone further than a doodle on a beer mat, or an April Fool’s Day Instagram post.
Indeed, we wonder what H. Moser’s technicians and watchmakers thought when they were tasked with actually making and assembling this aberration.
Did they see it as the equivalent of being in a science class where the teacher hands over a bunch of highly flammable substances and a Bunsen burner and says “Have fun, kids!” before leaving the room? Or did they all scratch their eggheads in bewilderment, thinking that their talents, finely honed skills and experience were surely above such a frivolous project?
Cunning stunts aside, the brand is best known for its minimalist models with smoky dials
Whatever… the watch is probably now lying in the darkest corners of a safe somewhere in H. Moser & Cie’s headquarters and the brand has gone back to quietly doing what it does best: keeping its head below the parapet and making stunning luxury watches whose beautiful smoky dials are mercifully devoid of fanfare or distraction.
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