I am incessantly asked about so-called “smart watches.” Usually, I practice incredible diplomacy, seldom revealing my extreme distaste for this genre of gadget, preferring to avoid discussing them altogether. However, I now feel compelled to reveal my colors, having recently been asked about “smart watches” again for the umpteenth time.
For the record, I do not consider a “smart watch” to be a “watch” at all. A “smart watch,” in my opinion, is an electronic instrument. It may be worn on the wrist and inform the wearer of the time, but it has little in common with the fine timepieces I adore.
A smart watch may well inform its user of the number of steps he or she has walked or the time he or she has been asleep, and receive email messages on its display, but it is devoid of emotion. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that, by its very nature, it is inert and has more in common with a mobile phone than a fine exemplar of haute horlogerie.
A key aspect of my professional role is to look for “angles” and “themes” to accompany a watch review with an applicable narrative. After all, I wish to entertain readers as well as inform them. One idea which I jotted in my aptly named “Ideas Book” involved approaching a fine mechanical timepiece as a “smart watch.” I thought it was a clever concept when describing a suitably handsome horological beau.
Sadly, before my title was applied to any article, H. Moser & Cie, the prestigious watch company based in Schaffhausen, beat me to it. The Swiss brand issued a press release headlined, “The original smart watch: H. Moser & Cie.’s response to the wave of new smartwatches.” This left me slightly deflated, as it rendered my seemingly original idea to the scrapheap.
However, any pangs of sadness soon dissipated when I saw the high-resolution images of Moser’s “original smart watch,” the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Funky Blue. Its sky blue fumé dial is incredibly striking and, paired with a beige kudu leather strap, confers a youthful character. At Baselworld 2015, I was able to place the watch upon my wrist and appreciate its becoming smile and toned torso at close quarters.
A more recent ‘hands-on’ encounter reaffirmed why this remains one of my favorite timepieces of 2015, a fact recorded by my colleagues at watchtime.net.
A new character
The Endeavour Perpetual Calendar has been a mainstay of the brand’s collection, winning the “Complicated Watch Prize” at the 2006 Geneva Grand Prix.
I have craved an Endeavour Perpetual Calendar for some time, first holding one in my hands in 2013. The watch I reviewed at the time was called the H. Moser & Cie Perpetual 1. It was presented in a conservative rose gold case with an argenté dial and I admired its refined, clean appearance. It seemed to be the very antithesis of “bling culture,” exhibiting a high quotient of decorum and breeding. The model continues to be offered for sale, remaining essentially unchanged save for the name, which is now the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar.
Chatting to my wife at the time, I expressed my admiration for this watch. While she agreed it had a graceful appearance, I can still recall her saying that it was “a bit too old” for me. I did not agree at the time and there is still part of me that feels she is mistaken. Nevertheless, no such allegations could be directed toward the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Funky Blue. It is imbued with a judiciously and measured amount of modernity, without compromising its elegant constitution. Moreover, it has lost none of the 2006 prize-winning model’s compelling array of attributes.
Fine lines emanate from the central hub of the dial, radiating outwards with cheerful demeanor. Polished, leaf-shaped hands impart the hours and minutes, interacting with slender, applied indices.
A small seconds display is positioned in the southern hemisphere of the dial. It is stepped with a central snailed area sitting below a smooth circlet and marked with simple white strokes, which in turn resides lower than the main dial canvas.
A power-reserve indicator sits on the right-hand side of the dial and the words, “down” and “up” succinctly communicate the status of the energy held within the twin barrels.
The date display consists of white text on a grayish background. This “big date” display proves highly legible and the date instantaneously changes at midnight.
However, the single most wonderful aspect of the dial composition, in my opinion, is the third hand, which indicates the month. Its short, neat profile, accentuated with a prominent arrow-tip, points to the relevant hour marker to denote the month.
I cannot think of a more user-friendly perpetual calendar than the Moser Endeavour Perpertual Calendar. The dial imparts information with brevity, yet style. It displays several indications but proffers lucidity at all times.
The 18k white-gold case provides a perfect foil for the comely blue fumé dial to shine. However, look closely at its form and you will notice numerous details that reveal its protracted creation.
The bezel is highly polished and concave in form. The lugs share the same highly polished finish, sinuously fusing with the caseband and exhibiting a scalloped profile. As these swooping lines convene near the crown they are met by a V-shaped section, satin-brushed and flat. The contradistinction of the seemingly disparate elements surprisingly coalesce in eye-catching union. By adopting this design, Moser has created sublime pockets of brilliance and shade, toying with light wonderfully and suffusing the case with a sumptuous mien.
Wearer comfort is exceptional. The caseback and rear-mounted sapphire crystal adopt a curving line, nuzzling the arm gently and according a highly agreeable fit. Furthermore, the diameter of the case, 40.8 mm, should prove suitable for the majority of would-be wearers.
H. Moser & Cie is relatively small when compared with some practitioners of haute horlogerie, producing only 1,200 timepieces per annum. The brand has even made the rarity of its watches part of its marketing campaign. However, do not misconstrue: this company can “hold its own” technically, with a breathtaking array of skills to be found in its atelier, Neuhausen am Rheinfall.
The hand-wound Caliber HMC 341 is a technical tour-de-force. Produced in-house, its specification brims with smile-inducing highlights that any self-respecting purist will appreciate.
Twin barrels collaborate to deliver a seven-day power reserve. The Straumann Hairspring, made by Moser’s sister company, Precision Engineering AG, is equipped with a Breguet overcoil. The escapement module is interchangeable, which proves very useful when servicing or repairing the watch.
A hacking seconds function allows the watch to be precisely synchronized with a reference clock. On the movement, a leap-year indicator features. The pallet fork and escapement wheel are made from gold.
This is an aesthetically attractive movement. The bridges are adorned with Moser Stripes, the brand’s own variation of the ubiquitous côtes de Genève motif. Gold chatons, polished jewel sinks and circular grained wheels are also in evidence. The anglage is also executed to a high standard.
Perhaps one area in which I may be labeled a “geek” is my profuse liking for the large gaps between some of the bridges and the space surrounding the escapement. This aspect of the movement design accords a greater view of the gear train and provides a welcome connection between the wearer and the watch. Every element of this movement is distilled to a remarkably high standard.
By releasing the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Funky Blue, H. Moser & Cie. has masterfully widened the appeal of its collection without losing the essence of what made the original prize-winning watch of 2006 so special.
This timepiece continues to incorporate the very impressive Caliber HMC 341 and retains the gorgeously sinuous case of the more traditional dial variants. The watch continues to distinguish itself as being a highly practical, very user-friendly perpetual calendar which imparts time in a coherent and cultured way.
What on the face of it is merely a new dial and strap option somehow comes across as much more. Indeed, by embracing this inspired color scheme, H. Moser & Cie has produced a very “smart watch” indeed. If only I could come up with a better way to describe it.
Model: H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Funky Blue
Case: 18k white gold; diameter 40.8 mm; height 11.1 mm; sapphire crystal front and caseback
Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; power-reserve indicator, month, leap year cycle indicator (positioned on movement), perpetual calendar
Movement: Caliber HMC 341, hand-wound; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz); 28 jewels; power reserve of seven days
Strap: Hand-stitched beige kudu leather strap supplied with 18k white-gold folding clasp
Price: £40,000 (recommended retail price as of September 2015)
Where I tried on the watch: H. Moser & Cie, Neuhuasen am Rheinfall, Switzerland