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H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture Special aBlogtoWatch Content for H. Moser & Cie.

There is a personal quality that is, although shared by all truly outstanding and impactful watchmakers in history, rarely credited to the extent of its true magnitude: entrepreneurialism. When you come and visit the Schaffhausen region, and in it the H. Moser & Cie. manufacture with its museum dedicated to the namesake of the company, you’ll quickly discover the importance of this so greatly ignored quality that is yet so very much indispensable to create impactful things.

H. Moser & Cie. calls their watches Very Rare and do so with good reason, but before we discover where and how these hard-to-come-by pieces are produced, let us familiarize ourselves with the fascinating history of the company and its everlasting connection with entrepreneurialism.

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

Heinrich Moser was born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland in 1805 into a family of watchmakers. At the age of 21, the young Heinrich had the bold idea of moving to St. Petersburg to establish himself there, as a master watchmaker. This adventure wasn’t entirely self-imposed either. For generations, the Moser family had been trusted with the responsibility of maintaining the public clocks of Schaffhausen – however, when it was his turn, Heinrich, for his young age, was not given the opportunity to prove himself. This was more than enough of a motivation to set off on his own path – which, as we will see, he very much chose to lead him back to his hometown.

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

Just a year later, in 1828, he established H. Moser & Cie. in St. Petersburg, where this name soon became a symbol of quality, elegance, and reliable watches with exceptional manufacture movements. Moser went on to develop from an artisanal watchmaker into a true entrepreneur, who not only understood all the details of his products, but also created a full-scale production system with an international service and retailer network – from scratch, in the early- to mid-1800s. It is worth noting that the Moser name has truly become analog with quality watches in Russia – some 1920s advertisements are just fascinating flashbacks to the past that further prove this point.

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

Further above: two Russian advertisements by Alexander Rodchenko, both dating from 1923, that reference Moser. Below: time-travel back to the 1800s with an original movement drawing.

Upon his return to his hometown, Heinrich dedicated much of his by-now vast fortune to develop the Schaffhausen region, totally transforming the sleepy little place into a prosperous and powerful town. In 1864, the Moser-dam was finished, a massive and incredibly impactful structure whose primary purpose was to harness the river Rhine’s power to supply energy to the town of Schaffhausen, hence providing it with the opportunity to industrialize and reap all the benefits of turning into a town that manufactures a wide range of products.

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

A truly entrepreneurial undertaking, turning a small settlement into a major hub in manufacturing, Heinrich Moser set out to design the entire dam-canal system along with its turbines himself – though, over time, he saw that he would definitely have to call upon further assistance to realize his plans. Entire structures grew out of the hectically running Rhine, housing massive turbines that would transfer the river’s energy to the many new buildings and manufactures that now ran along the river and helped Schaffhausen transform. There were even 2-person cable cars transporting workers across the Rhine – a system built in 1866, this was the first of its kind in Switzerland.

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

Today, many of the original plans, along with personal items and historical Moser timepieces can be found in the Moser Museum located in the Charlottenfels villa, a picturesque and thoroughly impressive estate that Heinrich Moser had built to his own specifications, overlooking the now-busy town of Schaffhausen and the river Rhine that was perpetually powering it. Today, the massive pillars of Moser’s project are located under the street of Rheinuferstrasse, but the prosperity and richness of the town serve as faithful reminders.

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

It is also worth mentioning how IWC Schaffhausen started out by renting part of a building that Heinrich Moser had set up specifically to give space to new small and medium-sized businesses. Beyond his joint ventures to develop the local industry, Heinrich Moser opened up a watch case manufacture in Schaffhausen, in 1853. In 1918, the company H. Moser & Cie. was expropriated following the turmoil of the Russian Revolution.

H. Moser & Cie: A Look Into History And Visiting The Manufacture Inside the Manufacture

Today, the entrepreneurial spirit is carried on inside the H. Moser & Cie. manufacture, located in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Schaffhausen, just a few minutes from Heinrich’s personal villa and the town that he transformed. It was in 2012 that the Meylan family took the helm of H. Moser & Cie., seven years after the brand had returned to the canton of Schaffhausen and moved into its new manufacture.

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  • Sheez Gagoo

    Why has the cheese watch never been reviewed?

    • Tea Hound

      Don’t worry there are still tons of other watches to get through. Let’s hope the wait doesn’t drive you crackers.

    • Pete Pete

      because somebody ran out of parmigiano and grated them for his spaghetti.

    • ANTONIO

      Because it´s not easy being cheesy, patience.

  • One of the best sponsored posts, it’s borderline NSFW watch porn. That shot of the different balance wheels should have an age certification 🙂

    Moser is among a handful of reborn historical brands that have forged an identity in the modern industry that is good in its own right – hat’s off to them.

  • Anna Nuehm

    Kudos for your disclaimer policy / for recognizing that ABTW’s credibility stands and falls with its transparency.

    That said, readworthy article.

  • Tea Hound

    Their watches are very nice. I like them. I would like to own a few.

  • Always been a fan of Moser and this only reinforces that. So cool to see a low annual output manufacture that has so much vertical integration.

  • Pete Pete

    somehow I can’t get used to the hands of most moser watches. don’t know whether it’s the shape itself, just the proportions or a combination of both.

  • Yan Fin

    Fascinating article. Thanks for publishing. Have seen a few Russian- era pieces of art, never realized they were actually located there.

  • Radium head

    After reading your article over an hour and a half going through their website all I can say is I need a cigarette WOOW and I don’t smoke
    Give me 10 minutes I’ll do it again I got to see the perpetual calendar midnight blue

    • Berndt Norten

      Ain’t got no regrets
      And I ain’t losin’ track
      Of which way I’m going
      Ain’t gonna double back
      Don’t want no date window
      Put on no display
      An angel? no!
      But I know my way
      I used follow
      Yeah, that’s true
      But my following days are over
      Now I just gotta follow through
      I remember what my father said
      He said “Son, life is simple”
      It’s either cherry red or
      Midnight blue
      Moser midnight blue, oh
      You were the restless one
      And you did not care
      That I was the lady boy
      Lookin’ for Marius’ lair
      I won’t apologize for
      The things I’ve done and said
      But when I win your open heart pseudo tourbillon
      I’m gonna paint it cherry red
      I don’t want to talk about it
      What you do to me
      I can’t live without it
      And you might think that
      It’s much too soon
      For us to go this far into the
      Midnight blue
      Oh midnight blue, oh
      You were…

  • Marius

    For a brand that presents itself as being “…a truly disruptive element in the Swiss watch industry” I find this sponsored post quite unimpressive and boring. I would have liked to see photos of top models, actresses, Victoria’s Secret angels à la Georges Kern. Let’s be honest, who wants to see pictures of machinery and components? What I find even more underwhelming is the photo of Moser`s factory. To me, it looks like a North Korean hospital. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c62b1773bc5049bde2669371f16aa5d081c5c9b51abc101c8fd3d6350d4e7dbb.jpg

    In my opinion, this is how an assertive, classy, elegant, gentlemanly, and masculine manufactory should look like:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c507d82cfed370c6355cfa1b1959653b951214d2220ea068b5bbeaea206d90bc.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/126fb6a2ef2b7e665a235d9be698b43cc3209cfc90b8fd485bcfef6a3179d0e8.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/85e30efac3e050e387f6f02a56a19a0a7a52c27f156b38c5d96bbc88e473fb6b.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ef4362fa5bd3efc44b56c5ee473fe57025edebb159b5fda158d2f2d4b113126a.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f77ea51e7cbcac470dd69dd8cc68173bc9a0022bda7a8923a2f7a0a6b1700e14.jpg

    • Radium head

      It’s okay Marius we all have bad days, take two ladyboys and call us tomorrow

    • Sheez Gagoo

      Looks like Vulcain. I know it must be Bremont but looks like Vulcain.

  • SuperStrapper

    Moser’s likely never to be very high on my list, butbtheybare of course and excellent manufacture with of all the respect and adulation they receive if not more.

    Proof that sponsored posts are worthy of their time here.

  • Yan Fin

    Pioneer Perpetual Calendar is stunning. Pure perfection. I volunteer for a long time review, say 3 years long.

  • IG

    Charming story though the 1918–2012 interval is a little under-represented… So it’s a bought name without any actual connection to the original just like most of the Swiss brands.

    • David Bredan

      As is the case with most of the Swiss brands, the new owners can’t do much to help what happened to a company a century ago. What they can and should bother with, in my opinion, is understand how the brand can be re-interpreted for today’s watch industry, gather as much of the archives and important/interesting vintage pieces of the brand as possible, and preserve and share all that. If any of this is missing, just start a new brand, I’d say – but Moser, in my personal opinion, understood well how the entrepreneurial spirit is what defined Moser (both the man and the company) and for such a low-production, newcomer company, they’ve done a fair bit to shake things up. And the products don’t seem to be neglected in the process either – unlike as seen at some other revived/survived brands who get far too obsessed over where they’re coming from. (Just my .02)

      • Radium head

        What I’d like to see is several of these Swiss watch producers interviewed on the blog on their take of what’s going to happen to them now that China is openef up.(the real take not the fake) I mean if the Swiss Watch producers figure it’s going to be a boon of income for them I think they got another thing Comin another point is the Chinese who could get out have gotten out and that was a biggest influx I think the Swiss Watch producers are going to see because the people that are left in won’t pay that kind of money Swiss are asking for watches, so high percentage of them will look for a Chinese watches particularly knock-offs . On the Chinese already have that market locked up. I know I personally I’m very interested in this watch but I won’t be buying too many more watches.

        • David Bredan

          The Chinese market has remained fine-ish (instead of turning into total disaster) for those who didn’t overdo it – and it’s slowly coming back for at least some brands.
          What I think is happening in the luxury watch scene in general, and this is something the Chinese are catching up with very fast, is that the watch buying public is bored as **** with watches in general. Nobody wets themselves for a new BLUE dial color and nobody cares whether a sub-dial has been moved 2 millimeters upwards on a dial. A large % of the watch buying audience has ticked all the boxes and made all the steps in the hierarchy, from Omega/Rolex/etc through Blancpain/JLC/etc through AP/VC/PP and now they’re bored. They’ll buy something from them if it’s really new or exactly matches their taste…
          *However*, it is those who do something fresh that’ll continue to do well. Maybe not get to produce 50k-80k watches a year, only 500-3500, but they’ll be safe, because what they do sells as people want something new for their money and not get utterly bored with their purchase 5 days later.
          Last, add to this the fact that people are generally better-informed about the niche brands these days, so if what others think about you matters to you, you can still rock a niche brand and expect your peers to know you’re wearing a luxury watch.
          How these more fresh watches will hold up is difficult to tell – like most all watches, the majority of them too depreciate like crazy… but what they’ll be worth when their grandkids need ’em, anyone who tells you a figure acts irresponsibly as its impossible to predict.

          • Radium head

            I think one of the hardest things to tackle to is going to be patent laws with the reverse engineering that’s being done. I mean Seiko are going to freak when the spring drives come out in Chinese model watches it should get very interesting

      • IG

        Don’t get me wrong, the new “Moser” developed a very high quality design language with matching horological features, one of my current favourites. Just the century-long gaps in some brands’ histories are funny.

  • BNABOD

    Pretty cool thanks for the article . Big fan of Moser’s designs so keep at it

  • Shirley Furby

    This article allows me to see a manufacture that is truly modern and disappointing. Where are any parts manufactured physically by hand. They obviously have skilled assemblers and wonderful cad cam people but where are the watch “makers.” I used to think they had old world crafts people. Now I realize just another modern assembly plant. Howbeit a good one but not a manually creative one.

    • b-spain

      Photos show assembly done by hand and some of the finishing. The only part I can think of being ‘manufactured by hand’ iare Breguet guilloch dials and automatic rotors. Nobody actually ‘manufactures’ anything by hand anymore. They finish and assemble and at better [as you say ‘creative’] places they make some of the machines, worse places just buy everything in and put the pcs of the puzzle together. Here they say they made some of the machines, make the escapements, have different striping, for a small brand what I saw above isn’t disappointing but is pretty impressive I’d say.

      • Marius

        “Nobody actually ‘manufactures’ anything by hand anymore.”

        Actually, that’s not correct. Beat Haldimann, for instance, doesn’t use any CNC machines whatsoever, and produces all the parts by hand. Similarly, the Naissance d`une Montre project also completely eschews CNC machines, and focuses on hand-manufacturing each component. Another brand that uses a strictly handmade approach to manufacturing components is Oscillon.

        • b-spain

          You’re so fantastically well informed.
          Actually, of-flipping-course people who make <10 watches a year will make stuff by hand because their hand is already at hand (HA) while CAD-CAM would require them to pull their heads out their asses and learn something new to programme, and then to invest in six or seven-figure machines that actually follow CAD guidance. And THEN hand-finish.
          Dufour and the majority of other small workshops just buys ébauches from whereever and hand-finishes that, magically nobody gives a crap they don't make much anything at all by hand or by machine under their own roof. That's more of an issue than a lonely guy sitting there and making a screw with ancient technics that you won't give a horse's arse about once it's screwed into its place.
          Gimme accurately machined components where it matters and nice finishing where I see it. And if I see photos from a manufacture let me see people around. As long as their around and what they make tick-tocks I'm happy.

          • Marius

            Your writing style and bad temper are very reminiscent of Supper Straper`. Nevertheless, that is besides the point. What is important is that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

            1. You argued that “Nobody actually manufactures by hand anymore.” Well, I have shown you three workshops that still manufacture the components by hand.

            2. “Dufour and the majority of other small workshops just buys ébauches from whereever and hand-finishes that, magically nobody gives a crap they don’t make much anything at all by hand or by machine under their own roof.”

            Again, this is false. Small workshops such as Vianney Halter, Thomas Prescher, Roger Smith, K. Voutilainen, Thomas Strehler, Beat Haldimann, Lang & Heyne, Grönefeld, Journe, etcetera, actually produce their own in-house movements as well as a high percentage of the components in-house. Please show me what ébauches these manufacturers are using. What’s more, some of these workshops are actually producing parts & components for well-known brands. In particular, Thomas Strehler, K. Voutilainen, and Grönefeld are well-known for manufacturing as well as finishing components for quite a few prestigious brands. The only exception is Dufour, who indeed used an ébauche for the Simplicity (although the Duality used an in-house caliber). However, most of the above-mentioned manufacturers produce a large number of parts in-house.

          • b-spain

            As per normal, you take word by word part of what I said (‘nobody’) that meets your sad and pointless agenda of coming across as the know it all around these parts, and totally ignore the bit that doesn’t (Dufour, etc).

            Yes, some make parts for others, and some work over ebauches. Not one of those in your list manufacture ANYTHING from scratch by hand, so there you’re, once again doing your best at selective reading AND contradicting yourself. Marius at its finest.

          • Marius

            Let’s see how I’m contradicting myself.

            The discussion wasn’t about small workshops such as Voutilainen, Smith, Grönefeld, etc producing everything by hand. The discussion was about the fact that these brands ACTUALLY PRODUCE A LOT OF PARTS IN-HOUSE. In case you don’t remember your own comment, this is what you said: “…they don’t make much anything at all by hand or by machine under their own roof.” Well, it appears that most of these small watchmakers make a lot of parts under their roof, machine-, and handmade.

            Regarding Dufour, I have clearly stated that Dufour used an outsourced ébauche for the Simplicity. In fact, this is what I said: “The only exception is Dufour, who indeed used an ébauche for the Simplicity.” However, apart from Dufour, all the other manufacturers use in-house calibers.

          • b-spain

            Good night.

          • Boris

            @b-spain: You don’t know anything about Swiss watchmaking. Go visit the people that Marius mentioned above so you can watch with your own eyes how they design and manufacture parts with old machines without using a CNC machine. Marius explained things very well, but it is sad to read such judgemental bullshit.

          • Shirley Furby

            I owned two Rolexes (had to finance both, not rich), both very fine boring watches that both of my children have now. Machine designed and possibly part of them assembled by hand. The other day I was given a hand built knife made by a local artisan. I am in awe of how he built and finished this piece. Definitely not as technically challenging as building watch but I know he designed it and built it by hand. It means a lot to me.I make sterling silver jewelry by hand. Many people like my jewelry and many don’t. The ones who like it want hand made unique items. It’s a difference in how certain individuals value an item. I want to see the hand of the artist in the piece, not the the machines ability to produce a perfect part. Watches are aesthetic items. Not in most cases something which has to be perfect. I’m old I appreciate people and there physical abilities as well as there mental prowess. Not robots that can read code. Each to his own. I respect your opinion we just disagree agreeably.

    • Radium head

      I think you’d have to go back a long time to find gears and pieces of watches made by hand they’re all done on machines and now the machines just get computers on them &go faster, the decorating is done by hand using a machine in most cases. If you pay attention to the people on the blog you’ll figure out who the watch makers are and ask them questions does a lot of good people here

  • JLG

    I love the brand. genuinely. what I dislike a lot are the Moser watches with very clean and empty dials. somehow they don’t have the class they should have gained by adopting a clean dial, and instead look a lot like electronic watches.
    what also surprised me and is quite in contradiction with the “very rare” statement is the fact that the article is a sponsored post.
    besides that, I really admire this brand which in my opinion plays in the field of the highest watch manufactures in the world.

  • I love the word “expropriated.” The definition should read something like “a process that makes you feel good about getting hosed.” Same thing the Russians did to the Glashütte watchmaking companies post WWII.

    • Radium head

      I don’t know if there was a problem with that,
      Have you seen the best watch is out of Russia designers https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/97f5467b0600909b73c90ec6913c541c9068d38f0d9ca973e9e4d226f1133882.png lately

      • My comment was not directed disparagingly at contemporary Russian watchmakers. More just a take on history and the continuation of the Moser name.

        • Radium head

          I do realize that I was clowning around
          I also realize on Russia’s way home as they pass through these places they took everything including the kitchen sinks home with them

          • You picked a great watch to clown around with. 🙂

      • Berndt Norten

        Good one BILL

  • Larry Holmack

    I really enjoyed reading the “article”….as I kind of nerd out when I see all the machinery and stuff that goes into producing a watch. Would have really loved a 10 minute, or so, video showing everything in action, instead of just pictures. No real opinion on the company and the watches they make…just enjoyed reading about the process as a whole.

    • David Bredan

      Thank you, Larry, I appreciate your feedback! We’d love to bring you more videos and will be working on it more in the future 🙂

  • Zhege

    One of the very rare Sponsored Articles that is substantive and worth reading. The Meylans acquiring H Moser et Cie is what rescued it and allowed it to grow. I love the design aesthetic – the clean dial of the perpetual calendar and those fume dials! I’d love to see how they could simplify the dial of a chronograph 🙂

    They also understand customer service – Patek could (and should!) take lessons from these guys. None of this “you’ll get it back in 9 months if we are done by then” attitude. Moser genuinely seems to care about their customers. Bravo!

  • Pete L

    Fascinating and a great read. This is what sponsored posts should be! Excellent stuff.

  • PR

    I find Moser watches very interesting indeed, maybe someday, nice read

  • Sheez Gagoo

    I really respect Moser for their real manufacturer spirit and their credibility but for me the watches are extremly oldfashioned in a bad, dusty and bergamot smelling way. The new and young CEO does a very good job rejuvenating the brand and boosting its awarness level by copying smartwatches, making cheese watches and one of the funniest videos ever coming out of Switzerland but the watches and their communication do not much for me.

    • Zhege

      Now I know why I love this brand – I also love Earl Grey tea 🙂
      Interesting and thoughtful comments.