Watches like the H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds are proof (to me) that your feelings about a watch can radically change after wearing it for a while. In this case, I ended up liking the Pioneer Centre Seconds watch a lot more than I had originally thought. With that said, I can easily say that in other experiences, watches I thought I’d really like let me down after an on-the-wrist wearing experience.
What the H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds watch is exactly may be the most challenging question to answer about this watch. If you can come to a positive response after answering that question, it may just be a great item to plan on adding to your collection. My own conclusion about the “theme” of the Pioneer is that it is meant to take a classic-looking dial and marry it with a contemporary dress watch case in both size and shape. Does that make it the best of both worlds, or a niche hybrid product only suited to a niche demographic?
From a visual presentation H. Moser & Cie has clearly refined a look over the last few years which has resonated well with a lot of watch lovers. The blue fumé (smoked) dial has a bit of gloss, while the hour markers and hands eagerly shine in the light. This combined with the steeply domed sapphire crystal really manages to tease the eyes. The Pioneer Centre Seconds watch could never be called something that shies away from wanting attention.
One cannot discount the clear effect and attention to detail in the case design and steel carving. H. Moser & Cie even puts a good deal of effort into the buckle, as well as the titanium crown. Small detailing such as this is one of the better measures of an authentically expensive-to-produce wristwatch. The more complex the parts, the more time and money is required to make them.
Case size for this reference 3200-1200 is 42.8mm wide, but the watch wears large thanks to its 15mm thickness (much in part due to the crystal), and the heftiness of the lugs. It is about the max I think anyone could go with a dress watch – that looks best suited to semi-formal occasions aboard a space yacht. Adventurous dress watch design like this is needed, though not always successful for all audiences. As a dress watch, some might argue that H. Moser & Cie made the Pioneer too large. As a sports watch (the case has a screw-down crown and is water-resistant to 120m) people might argue that it is a bit too boring and restrained to feel macho. In many ways this H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds watch reminds me of the Bremont AC I (aBlogtoWatch review here). Both are basically sport watches with elegant exteriors paired with comfortable (blue) rubber straps.
H. Moser & Cie makes gold versions of the Pioneer case with other dial colors, as well as Pioneer collection models with their fancy minimalist perpetual calendar movement. The Pioneer Centre Seconds is the model for the purists who want a purely symmetrical dial without even so much as a break for the date. The elegant gradient blue face is contrasted with large hour markers and easy to spot hands. Glare issues abound, but the sheer cleanliness of the dial and contrasting colors means that legibility is high. My biggest complaint about the watch is the obvious need for much, much more anti-reflective coating on the crystal. This watch would look much more “perfect” if the crystal was not so obvious each time you saw light shining back at you from it.
More so, H. Moser & Cie used hands and hour markers that have too many rounded surfaces for my liking on a watch dial. Though the alternative to how they are doing it is probably challenging. Either they hire Grand Seiko to make their hands, or they do them carefully by hand, which is both expensive and challenging to scale.