KEEPING AN EYE ON TIME
Powerful players in the watch world
H. MOSER & CIE
H. Moser & Cie is based in Schaffhausen on the banks of the river Rhine and is very proudly Swiss. Last winter it even attempted to enhance the country’s reputation for humour by selling a watch with a case made from Swiss cheese. That watch was a one-off gimmick made for laughs, but also to protest at the much-disputed laws governing the definition of the label “Swiss Made”. The label has become meaningless, Moser said, announcing that it would no longer use it, despite making watches entirely in Switzerland – apart from the straps, which come from Italy.
Now, however, Moser is going further back into its history and celebrating its Russian origins. The company was founded in St Petersburg by Swiss-born watchmaker Heinrich Moser, in 1928. He soon opened manufacturing premises in Switzerland, building a dam and turbine on the Rhine to power his industry. The business had great success in Russia, with Moser becoming synonymous for quality watchmaking, with the name quoted in popular songs and even in the works of Dostoevsky.
When Moser died in 1874, the company continued to thrive under new ownership – and in the early 20th century Carl Fabergé used Moser movements in his table clocks.
Following the Russian Revolution in 1917 the St Petersburg arm of the company was nationalised and the name was no longer used. The Swiss side of the business did well through the middle of the 20th century, but then like many others became a victim of the world turning to cheap, battery-powered watches in the 1970s. But mechanical watches came back, and so did Moser.
This watch is made to celebrate pre-Revolutionary Russia, and displays H. Moser & Cie’s old Russian logo over a beautifully uncluttered red dial designed to bring together “the style of 1917 Russia with the inimitable aesthetic codes of today’s H. Moser watches”. Over the last few years Moser has made some of the most understatedly beautiful watches around, and this smoky Russian number is no exception, whatever your take on the history.
The H. Moser & Cie Venturer XL Centennial Red has a hand-wound movement and is limited to 17 pieces.
The first SAR Rescue Timers were made in 2002. A tough tool watch with 1000- metre water-resistance, it has become popular and Mühle has introduced a limited-edition bronze version to commemorate the watch’s 15th anniversary. The middle section of the case is made of aluminium bronze, a material also used to make ship propellers. A nice touch, but perhaps more usefully the dial is coated in luminous material for optimum legibility in low light.
The Fears Watch Company was founded in Bristol in 1846. It survived for more than a century, including being bombed in the Bristol Blitz, leading to its relocation outside the city centre before ticking its last in the mid-1950s. The brand has been revived by the founder’s great-great-great-grandson and its line-up began with a quartz watch, the Redcliff. This has now been joined by the Brunswick, which pays tribute to cushion-shaped Fears watches from the 1920s and 1930s.