H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

At SIHH 2017, H. Moser & Cie released this interesting limited edition watch that contains a movement previously only used in Hautlence watches. If I just saw it in pictures I wouldn't have liked it as much, but in person it is strangely satisfying. With bulbous proportions and a tall-off-the-wrist wearing experience, the appeal of the H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde is in the relaxed, modern look of the case that artistically contrasts with the very complicated movement on the inside.

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

The life of the H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde began back in 2010 when Hautlence debuted the first version of the HL2 which was more techie in its design with an emphasis on architectural futurism. The HL2 (HL2.0) movement was really cool for a number of reasons, and to this day remains one of my favorites to witness the realization of modern horology. The movement is rectangular in shape and was designed both in Hautlence models and this H. Moser & Cie model to take up most of the case and show off what is on the inside as much as possible. Hautlence last used the movement in their Vortex watch collection (hands-on here) and prior to that in the Hautlence HL2.1 and HL2.5 watches (hands-on here).

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

The caliber HL2.0 movement has a number of interesting talking points, starting with its own style of "tourbillon." The balance wheel regulation system is a long vertical assembly which turns with the movement of a tread that is used to indicate jumping hours. You need to see this in person to really understand it, but near the top of the case is a small window to show the hours (here, in Roman numerals) which move in one-hour segments at the end of each hour. As each hour passes, the column that the regulation system is built on rotates a little bit, and it is really interesting to see in action. The escapement operates at a frequency of 18,000bph (3Hz), and the movement has a power reserve of 45 hours with two mainspring barrels.

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

The movement is an automatic with a micro-rotor, and one of the barrels is exclusively used to power the complex motion of the hour marker chain belt. What is really lovely about the operation of the movement is that upon the passing of each hour, the hour marker belt moves slowly taking a few seconds. It is something which is rather cool to watch. The HL2.0 movement also has a retrograde indicator for the minutes, which on the H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde timepiece is set against a white grand feu enamel dial (with a traditionally designed blued steel hand). At the bottom part of the movement is a handy power reserve indicator dial - which I always appreciated.

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

Allow me to remind you that Hautlence is owned by H. Moser & Cie - or rather, they are owned by the same entity. Hautlence began the "parts-sharing relationship" when they used an H. Moser & Cie tourbillon movement for a watch, and now they return the favor by lending H. Moser & Cie the Hautlence caliber HL2.0. It makes sense, of course, and I think the result, especially with the HL2.0, makes for an independent value proposition as both the brands treat the movement in distinct ways.

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

The case for the H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde is in 18k white gold for this limited edition and sized at 42.1mm wide, 18.3mm thick, and 48mm long. It's by no means discreet, and it wears like a small bar of soap (with lugs) attached to an alligator strap on your wrist. This is essentially a ballooned version of the case which H. Moser & Cie produced that was meant to look just like the Apple Watch, but with a mechanical movement inside of it.

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

I really didn't care for H. Moser & Cie's "mechanical replica" of the Apple Watch. It was, in my opinion, a hostile and slightly petty move toward the technology industry, and I think it set a reactionary tone to the brand - which is a shame because that really isn't what the people who work there are like. I think H. Moser & Cie does a lot of "outside-the-box" thinking to get marketing attention, and they succeed in that. Though, I think that sometimes doing stuff like making a watch out of cheese can be cornier than it is classy, and the entire theme of the brand should, in my opinion, be classy versus provocative in a way that doesn't meld well with what the brand is good at from a design theme perspective.

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

So, while I wasn't personally a fan of H. Moser & Cie's Apple Watch replica, I do like how that case concept grows into housing the HL2.0 movement quite nicely. The soft edges of the case help reduce its visual mass, and the side sapphire crystal window gives a nice view of the movement. Anyone familiar with the proportions of the Apple Watch will recognize the similar design cues, lugs, and overall shape, but there is enough different here for this to be the more "appropriate" answer to the Apple Watch that H. Moser & Cie was looking for. Legibility isn't that bad either, and what you can't really see in the marketing images, that you can when you see the watch person, is how the smoked sapphire crystal element over the movement offers a nice view to the mechanism on the inside, but allows for a lot of visual focus on the hour indicator and the retrograde minute hand.

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde Hands-On Hands-On

As I mentioned, the H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde is also rather comfortable on the wrist despite its thick size and overall large proportions. What's better is that as a rather serious collector's item, this certainly isn't a watch for everyone, and years from now will certainly hold its own among other watches from this era as being both distinct and having a very fun story. The reference 5900-0200 H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde is part of a limited edition of just 10 pieces, with a price of $220,000 USD. h-moser.com

What do you think?
  • Interesting (12)
  • Thumbs up (8)
  • I want it! (2)
  • Classy (1)
  • I love it! (1)
  • Bar of soap indeed – thick and with this shape I’ll bet it looks every mm of its 18+ thickness. Technically cool and I like the 4 = “IV” and not “IIII”. The unmarked retrograde minutes causes a bit of cognitive friction. You have to train your brain that every baton is 5 minutes, etc.

    I agree that Moser’s marketing stunts seem at odds to the usually restrained and oh so elegant watches they produce. But maybe that’s the point – they don’t want people to view them as staid and boring. Having the relatively young Edouard Meylan run this part of the family business may have something to do with that. Playful and certainly in your face at times (recall the open letter to the Swiss government when they stopped pegging the Swiss franc to the euro).

    • I love the guy, so far away from the traditional CEO image. I didn’t like their take on the Apple watch either because it looked more like a surrender, but if there is a company selling classic watches that can attract younger generations because of their marketing, that’s Moser.

      • I agree, while I might not be a fan of every marketing attempt they make, I’m rooting for them as they keep coming out swinging.

      • Sevenmack

        Agreed. I’m no longer really young and increasingly in middle age. But I would rather support Moser than Patek Philippe because of the willingness to be bold in marketing. Also, the watches are more appealing than PP’s variations on the Calavatra.

        • I like their simple yet elegant approach (dual disk with aperture) to a big date and that their dual time uses a same sized 2nd hour hand so you can “hide” it under the primary hand when you are not traveling. Thoughtful design and good engineering. I’m a fan of many of their watches. Cheers.

  • I love the movement. But when I saw the pictures I could only think of
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/acdee9e31dd18f8bf54da6d9ac9296f273eaaf31ee7daee1803a61f397d7a4f3.jpg

    • IG

      Last thing I would think of seeing that shiny bulbous case is LEGO…

      http://www.robertcailliau.eu/Alphabetical/L/Lego/Dimensions/General%20Considerations/Brick2x4.png

      • See in Spanish a block is just a hefty solid piece of compact material, angualr or not. That’s the mental connection. Mark was on the spot -as usual- with his soapy vision.

        • “Soapy” – as in massage? OK, let’s not go there…

          • Incidentally Mark: are you up and running?

          • More like I have to remind myself not to see for too long. I need to get up and put weight on these new knees often – or else I pay for it. I’m hobbling around for short distances these days. The walker is not really used anymore. Better every week (at 5 now) but still a long road with many steps to be taken. But I should be in fine shape for BaselWorld 2018. Sorry to miss BW 17 and seeing you and all of my other friends there.

          • Glad to hear you’re doing better, even if not as fast as you’d like to. I will miss you this year Mark, that’s for sure. So write down we will have one of those mythical kebabs next year to honour you being back. You know, the luxury dinners we always have at Baselworld :0)

          • Donar kebak and pizza and at our favorite place in Basel – I’m hungry just thinking about it!

          • Lincolnshire Poacher

            Glad to hear you’re getting better 🙂

          • Thanks Paul

    • Lego seem blocky to my mind. The bar of soap (on a rope) works for me. But knowing Moser, it will probably be a bar of Swiss cheese. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a5a21447ff3b851b749ecb02de296f70bce7e63929dbe4668ade32eabf4f6599.jpg

    • Elijs Dima

      No, no. The Apple Watch is a LEGO. This Moser, if anything, is a DUPLO. 😉

  • Marius

    According to this article: “I really didn’t care for H. Moser & Cie’s “mechanical replica” of the Apple Watch. It was, in my opinion, a hostile and slightly petty move toward the technology industry…”

    Why was the Moser watch a “hostile” and “petty” move? As far as I know, the technology industry is not exactly helping and giving money away to the watch industry. In fact, technology brands introduce smartwatches so that they can take marketshare away from traditional watch brands. As a result, watch brands have no reason to prostrate themselves before the tech industry. I found the Moser Alpine watch to be a very interesting and humorous proposition, showing that even a century-old industry can come up with original and funny ideas.

    According to this article: “. Though, I think that sometimes doing stuff like making a watch out of cheese can be cornier than it is classy, and the entire theme of the brand should, in my opinion, be classy versus provocative in a way.”

    Why shouldn’t Moser be a provocative brand? If you look at their entire collection, you will see that Moser watches are a very interesting mix between classic and eccentric designs. A Moser watch has a very classic and elegant case, but the dials and movements have an eccentric and slightly flamboyant touch. Before arguing that the Cheese Watch is corny and provocative, take a good look at most Hublot collaborations (Berlutti, Lapo Elkann, etc.) These watches truly ARE the epitome of corny and bad taste.

    • The first Alpine watch was ok. It was a funny move. But a second version with the same argument… Imagine Tim Cook gets on the stage and says “Our Apple watch is such a fantastic example of fine watch-making design that even a traditional company like Moser is copying it”, Then the joke would have been on Moser. That’s why I didn’t like it.

    • Word Merchant

      Agreed with all of this – I think what H. Moser & Cie have managed to do is to inject some humour and joy into what is usually a very po-faced industry and they’ve managed to do so whilst keeping the style and mechanics extremely interesting indeed. They’ve also done it without needing pompous, narcissistic brand ambassadors too. So that’s doubly good.

      I have no idea how Tim Cook and the rest of his Apple coterie see all this, but if they think H. Moser & Cie is a hostile brand then they need to collectively lighten up and get a life.

      And spot on re Hublot. I couldn’t have put it better so I won’t attempt to.

      • egznyc

        I strongly suspect that Apple would view this form of imitation as flattery. It’s a sign that their design was successful.

        • Sevenmack

          Pretty much. Also, would bet that Apple isn’t even paying much attention because it has other things to do. Such as generate money.

    • Gokart Mozart

      Agree with you totally.

    • Manesh Karunakaran

      Absolutely agree with you. The Swiss Alp watch and the cheese watch were both provocative in their own idiosyncratic way. And they have to be taken in that light instead of judging them in conventional terms. And if we are looking at corny and cheesy watches, 90 percent of the Hublot line up is the definition of these terms .

  • Mark1884

    I can appreciate the movement, but do not care for the case design. It did look like an Apple watch to me, prior to reading the article.
    Interesting & unique.

  • Raymond Wilkie
  • ??????

    I love Moser watches and their strategy of keeping things classy and humorous at the same time. Swiss Alp watch was simply gorgeous (and a bit of good quality trolling). The model in review, while being an exceptional piece of mechanics, is a bit too beefy for the real world and has less charm on me than the original. Anyway, I think Moser are going in the right direction and bring fresh air to the Swiss watch industry.

  • That is, without a doubt, the ugliest watch I have ever seen.

  • IanE

    I must say that I am with Ariel! I thought the Alp watch publicity was just a joke at first and thought it mildly humourous as such. However, why copy a dull-looking, rather cheap pretend-watch? As for the current model, I would go with the Hautlence if I had that money to burn and had to choose – rather an unlikely scenario (though I am open to offers)!

  • SuperStrapper

    Totally looks like a mechanical Apple watch. A dramatic improvement over the current Apple watch.

    Prefer the Hautulence version, that watch still mystifies me.

  • commentator bob

    Ariel has it backward. The original Swiss Alp watch, with a “basic” (for Moser) mechanical movement in an exact replica of the Apple watch case was brilliant. Because of Apple’s dedication to making the Apple watch have classic proportions the Swiss Alp watch had classic proportions that could allow it to stand on its own as a watch in the ~$20s. It was art in terms of its openness to interpretation. Was it mocking the Apple watch. Was it an homage to the Apple watch? Would Apple sue for trade dress infringement? I guarantee it made its way into the collections of Apple executives and investors.

    This on the other hand is ugly. It looks like a bad Chinese knock-off of an Apple watch, not an artful statement about the Apple watch. Trying to make a series of different watches out of the Apple watch design makes Moser look desperate and uncreative.

  • Shawn Lavigne

    this is a watch for someone who is really, really, really rich and already has a bunch of very fine watches, cars, etc. if i was such a person, i would probably buy this watch. it is a pretty dang cool looking work of horology.

  • DanW94

    Generally a big Moser fan but this is an awkward looking design. It also looks clumsy and uncomfortable on the wrist

  • Elijs Dima

    Gotta say, they took a really good case design (from Apple) and completely effed it up. This case is hideous.

    • Chemistman

      Spot on

  • Chemistman

    Isn’t Moser’s design ethos always been minimalist? The open dial looks horrendous. Actually not just Mosers but I’ve yet to see a look looking open dial watch.

    The side wrist shot reminds me of the side profile of a brick . Lol apple watch definitely has a better case designed than this

  • BNABOD

    Big fan of Moser but this one is no winner more of a loser. Wearing a bar of soap is an understatement this thing is terribly ugly

  • wallydog2

    And the time is…?

    • cluedog12

      9:11.

      I agree, in bad taste. 🙂

  • Ulysses31

    It’s way too thick, and the obviously lifted case design from Apple (OK, Apple lifted their design from someone else but they made it famous I suppose) is a real turn-off. The engineering of the movement is great, but the visual design is really lacking.