While portable miniature black holes are strictly a thing of science fiction, a Vantablack wristwatch is probably the closest you will get without any of the corresponding risks. H. Moser & Cie unveiled its latest watches with the mind-bending infinitely black “Vantablack” dials — the Endeavour Centre Seconds (and Endeavour Tourbillon Concept) Vantablack — at Geneva Watch Days 2023. While this high-tech, futuristic material is quickly becoming somewhat standard fare for the brand, it is still exceedingly rare and something that needs to be experienced to fully appreciate. I have been fortunate enough to see and photograph other Vantablack-dialed watches, but when the opportunity to wear one for an extended period came up, I jumped at the opportunity with haste.
The Moser Endeavour Centre Seconds packs a punch with a warm glowing 18K 5N red gold case that measures 40mm wide and 11.2mm thick, including the domed sapphire crystal. Swooping polished lugs transition into concave channels carved into the case bending the light. These curves abruptly transition to a fine vertical brushing on the flanks that looks rough compared to the rest of the watch. This same brushing is found between the lugs and stands in strong contrast to the highly polished bezel and lugs. I immediately related this vertical brushing to the low-cost vertical brushing you often find from the stamping process used to mass-produce affordable watch cases. This brushing frames the large knurled and signed push-pull crown that stands proudly out of the case at 3 o’clock.
The subtle inward curve of the case sides is echoed in the concave polished bezel, making the watch look a touch slimmer and smaller. However, there is no escaping the vast, consuming dial that — despite the ever-lauded slimming power of black — does not feel the slightest bit small as it draws you in deeper with each glance.
Moser is no stranger to Vantablack. The substance, constructed of and named for its Vertically Aligned NanoTube Arrays, absorbs 99.965% of visible light, making it one of the darkest substances on the planet. This delicate material is often referred to as a forest of nanotubes. Under some circumstances, you can see the subtle, uneven-grained texture of the dial with the naked eye and even more clearly with polarized sunglasses. I first noticed the texture under macro photography when I went hands-on with the Moser Streamliner Vantablack Tourbillon and came to fully appreciate its sneaky organic nature while wearing the Endeavour Centre Seconds.
Most of the time, the dial looks like a never-ending pit on your wrist, but the occasional flash of texture makes you question if it is safe — which it is when inside a sealed container, but do not try to touch it, and definitely avoid inhaling it. With a bit of high-powered lighting and post-processing, I was able to expose the texture of the dials. A friend aptly described it as “the skin of a dementor” (the soul-sucking creatures from Harry Potter).
A sandwich dial construction gives way to frosted red gold markers set below the dial. On an angle, the markers begin to be swallowed by darkness, and the polished, leaf-shaped rose gold hands float effortlessly above. There is no luminous material present, but lowlight legibility was surprisingly not an issue. The hands and markers reflected even the most ambient of light, while the dial remained incredibly dark. Even in near pitch black, the time could be read with a little effort. However, I think a touch of luminous paint would be welcome.
Powering the Moser Endeavour Centre Seconds is the HMC 200 automatic manufacture caliber. This in-house movement features bidirectional automatic winding via a precious metal rotor, 27 jewels, and a minimum power reserve of three days at a frequency of 3Hz. Moser finished the HMC 200 with “Moser Stripes” — a play on Geneva striping that features an alternating stripe pattern across the movement bridges and pelage beneath. The balance of finishing, texture, and depth Moser uses on its movements does not disappoint when viewed through the exhibition caseback. The caseback is secured with four screws and caps out water resistance at 30 meters.
A padded grey Kudu leather strap comes mounted on the Endeavour Centre Seconds and features a matching solid 18K 5N red gold pin-buckle that is signed with the H Moser & Cie script. This watch was a press sample that had already been handled and worn, so the strap was nicely broken in. The buckle, while beautifully finished, had a sharp bottom edge that cut into the strap and could present unnecessary wear over an extended period. The weathered gray surface of the strap provided a soft organic touch to an otherwise stark and bold watch, making it a pleasure to wear even with casual clothing.
Ever since H. Moser & Cie started using Vantablack on its watch dials I had been curious what it was like to actually wear day to day. The exotic material falls right in line with Moser’s tagline of Very Rare and isn’t something everyone gets an opportunity to experience. In short, it is a wild ride and an absolute pleasure to wear — but that doesn’t adequately describe the experience. Each time I glanced at the watch, I felt a renewed surprise at just how dark it was. Despite previous experience with the material, the more I wore it, the more I enjoyed it.
The phenomenon of this darkness is difficult to express, and the joy it resulted in was equally infinite. The material is only available on some of Moser’s more premium offerings, but I would be thrilled to see it implemented in the more affordable Pioneer line. The contrast created by the dark substance has true utility in a sports watch that isn’t being taken advantage of. The substance’s incredible fragility may be what is preventing this from happening. I can’t be the only one dreaming of a steel or titanium Moser Pioneer Vantablack, right? Perhaps next year my wish will be granted.
In the meantime, the H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds Vantablack will have to do. It exudes a healthy balance of warm red gold and cold black and grey that are even more enticing as the seasons change. It is priced at $27,600 USD and is only limited by Moser’s low annual production numbers. You can learn more about the brand and this model at Moser’s website.
>Brand: H. Moser & Cie
>Model: Endeavour Centre Seconds Vantablack
>Price: $27,600 USD
>Size: 40mm wide, 11.2mm thick
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Casually every day, formal occasions, watch meet-ups
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Collectors who want something other brands don’t offer
>Best characteristic of watch: The blackest dial of any watch out there.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Brushing on the sides of the case.