For the most part, luxury watches are fairly serious items, and seldom do manufacturers have a sense of humor as an inherent part of their overall brand identity, especially if they operate at a premium price point. However, H. Moser & Cie. is one of the few exceptions and despite producing elegant timepieces with immaculate levels of finishing, the brand also enjoys having a bit of fun and occasionally trolling the luxury watch industry.
There is a certain irreverent charm to Moser that is present throughout the brand’s entire catalog, despite producing incredibly finely-crafted timepieces that offer legitimate levels of technical innovation. With that in mind, when Moser really wants to let loose and have a bit of fun, the end results can be truly comedic, so here are a few of the most noteworthy instances of Moser giving us a good laugh and trolling the luxury watch industry.
H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Icons Watch
The H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Icons Watch was intended to be a playful homage to some of horology’s most iconic timepiece designs. The watch itself is a hilarious mashup that takes a Hublot case with a Panerai Luminor crown guard and fits it with a Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi bezel morphed into the shape of an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. The dial is a strange mix of a Panerai sandwich design with the horizontal lines from a Patek Philippe Nautilus, Breguet hands, an IWC-style logo, and a tourbillon held under a Girard-Perregaux style bridge. As a whole, the Moser Swiss Icons Watch is a fantastic and comical timepiece that pokes fun at the incremental approach to design that characterizes many of the industry’s most celebrated designs.
While I personally find Moser’s Swiss Icons watch to be a hilarious parody that was created all in the name of good fun, the brands that it referenced did not find it at all amusing. Approximately 24 hours after H. Moser & Cie. announced the Swiss Icons Watch, the brand retracted the model after receiving numerous cease and desist letters from several different watch brand’s legal departments. Even though the Moser Swiss Icons Watch was created as a single unique piece that was going to be sold at auction to benefit a good cause, the single prototype that existed had to be dismantled and destroyed, and the watch itself was never displayed at SIHH that year.
H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Alp Watch
Image: Watches by SJX
The H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Alp Watch is the brand’s playful jab at the Apple Watch, which takes the best-selling smartwatch’s distinct case shape and fits it with one of Moser’s brilliantly finished in-house mechanical movements. The original Moser Swiss Alp Watch debuted in 2016 and was the first of the brand’s comical and controversial releases. The watch was such a success that Moser created a few different renditions of the Swiss Alp Watch design, including a tourbillon minute repeater that had no time-telling hands whatsoever and instead forced users to listen to the repeater function to reference the time of day.
However, while all of Moser’s various iterations of the Swiss Alp Watch are arguably worthy of a spot on this list, my personal favorite is the H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Alp Watch Final Upgrade, which double downs on the original’s playful jab at the ultra-famous tech company. Like its predecessors, the Swiss Alp Watch Final Upgrade features an unmistakably Apple Watch-looking case. However, what sets this version apart is its dial and running seconds display. Set against a completely sterile Vantablack surface is a pair of centrally-mounted hour and minute hands, and right below them is the Apple loading progress wheel, which functions as a running seconds indicator and adds an extra dose of Moser’s unique sense of humor.
H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Mad Watch
The H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Mad Watch is quite possibly the most Swiss watch ever produced, and it was created by the brand as a way to draw attention to what it believes are loose regulations about what the term “Swiss Made” actually means in regards to wristwatches. In 2017, the Swiss government changed the regulations so that “Swiss Made” would apply to timepieces where at least 60% of their total production costs originate inside Switzerland. However, this could now include things like research and development, meaning that significant portions of a timepiece can be fabricated elsewhere and the watch itself can still be considered "Swiss Made."
For brands like H. Moser & Cie. that are true Swiss manufacturers, the 60% cost requirement seems too low and they ultimately find it upsetting. In addition to removing the “Swiss Made” wording from its watches, Moser also launched the Swiss Mad Watch. Created as a unique piece to be sold at auction with the proceeds benefiting a fund to support independent watchmaking, the Moser Swiss Mad watch was so incredibly Swiss, that it even famously featured a case made from Swiss cheese. To prevent the watch from rotting and smelling, the cheese was bonded with resin, but the material’s appearance remains remarkably true to its original form. As a comical novelty that simultaneously makes a relevant statement, the H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Mad Watch is probably the single most famous instance of the Schaffhausen-based manufacturer having a bit of fun with the luxury watch industry, and stands out as one of the brand's most noteworthy and unusual timepieces.