Agent Provocateur: H. Moser & Cie. Trolls the Swiss Watch Industry Before Backtracking


Well, that was a whirlwind. On Thursday, we received word that H. Moser & Cie. — the brand behind the Alp (faux-Apple) Watch and the Swiss Mad watch made from Swiss Cheese (yes, really) — had released the Swiss Icons watch. Moser, intending to make a splash before heading to Geneva for SIHH, decided to create a unique piece that lampooned the design of iconic models across the industry and stated it would be auctioned off after SIHH to benefit the Fondation pour la Culture Horlogère Suisse (Foundation for Swiss Watchmaking Culture). Citing the “opportunistic” nature of the industry, the Swiss Icons riffed on:

1.) The bezel color of the Rolex GMT II.

2.) The bezel shape of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.

3.) The crown guard of the Panerai Luminor.

4.) A sandwich dial that isn’t exclusive to Panerai, but was popularized by them.

5.) Patek Philippe Nautilus dial.

6.) The IWC logo on the dial.

7.) Breguet hands.

8.) A Hublot case.

9.) A cabochon on the crown inspired by Cartier.

10.) Girard-Perregaux bridge over the tourbillon.

That’s nine different brands. Nine!

Moser Swiss Icons

Here was the official statement from H. Moser & Cie. CEO Edouard Meylan:

“Many brands, even historical ones, create and produce nothing but substitute substance with artificial hype to stay relevant. Reinforcing their efforts with prestigious events and paying ambassadors who have no links to watchmaking; these tactics are just artifice that serve as smoke and mirrors. It’s all about who has the longest history, the most famous celebrity ambassador, or influencer with the most followers. Their efforts are in vain, the essential lies elsewhere: with the product. We should show our creativity and we should refocus on the product. We need to come back down to earth, roll up our sleeves and create unique ideas. This is the only way that we can make Swiss Made great again.”

And, about 24 hours later, it was all over. On Friday morning, the brand posted a note on its social media channels and sent an email to the press stating:

Dear H. Moser friends and others,
 
No one said #MakeSwissMadeGreatAgain would be easy… You might have noticed that we have stopped our campaign promoting our Swiss Icons Watch. While our objective was to pay tribute to the great founders of our beautiful industry and warn against certain practices of others, the message was unfortunately sometimes misunderstood. As such, the Swiss Icons Watch will therefore no longer be presented and won’t be sold to raise funds to support education and training of young Swiss Watchmakers. But fear not, we still have a number of surprises to share with you next week at SIHH.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Edouard Meylan

CEO H. Moser & Cie.

It’s hard to understand exactly what Meylan and co. expected out of all this. Of course, it got everyone in the industry talking, and laughing (because c’mon, it is pretty hysterical), and I’m sure it was a huge marketing boon for a small, independent brand heading into the Richemont-dominated SIHH fair, but you’ve got to imagine that the aforementioned brands weren’t happy about the attention (or, on the flip side, what about the brands that weren’t included? Would they be offended for not having a suitable icon?). I can also imagine it annoying a specific segment of watch collectors by stating that they’re basically status-obsessed sheep controlled by marketing. These were potential customers that likely won’t be picking up a Moser anytime soon. After all, one of the reasons the Swiss watch industry has been able to retain a sizeable consumer base in a technology-driven world is due to some of the very iconic models that collectors obsess over and that Moser is now attacking. There are definitely two sides to this and we’ve already seen that spilling out into arguments across the forums and on social media about how offensive this watch is, how valid Meylan’s points about the industry are, if people are overreacting, and what it means for the future of H. Moser & Cie.

Whether or not the Swiss Icons is lost forever, this is a case where I believe horological pundits and enthusiasts of all kinds will be talking, joking, and fighting about the ultimate Frankenwatch for years to come.

Moser Swiss Icons
8 Responses to “Agent Provocateur: H. Moser & Cie. Trolls the Swiss Watch Industry Before Backtracking”

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  1. DaMystery1

    Perhaps they should substitute the first letter of their name with a P. J

    Reply
  2. MillenialMan

    Another publicity stunt by H.Moser et Cie. I won’t be suprised that they were slapped with multiple lawsuits for infringing on patented designs. Hence, the gag order.

    They are now officially the butt of swiss watchmaking jokes with their swiss cheese watch, mechanical Apple watch and now this frankenwatch.

    I hope they realize that the whole world is laughing AT them and not with them…

    Reply
  3. Debashish

    Well, I don’t know about others, but I enjoyed H. Moser & Cie’s idea behind Swiss Icons immensely!

    Nowadays, some people take themselves very seriously; I think, these so-called serious people should lighten-up.

    But then every person has a different point of view and we must respect that.

    Reply
  4. David Brown

    A lovely gag, makes me very interested in learning more about Moser et Cie. Good on em.

    Reply
  5. Eric Coates

    Love it. The companies needed a wake up call, and humor works wonders.
    Now, get the prices within the reach of the common man.

    Reply
  6. “I also imagine it offended a specific segment of watch collectors by stating that they’re basically status-obsessed sheep controlled by marketing.”

    I don’t suppose you would care to elaborate? And would the marketing of said sheep have anything to do with your publication?

    Reply
  7. Roy Kozey

    Take that bridge thing over the escarpment off and you’ve got a nice watch!!!

    Reply
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