January 27, 2023

H. Moser & Cie. has just opened the doors of its first flagship in the world. While the watch brand technically had roots in Russia more than a century ago, this is the first physical flagship for the brand’s modern direction since it was led by the Meylan family.

Located in the heart of Hong Kong’s financial district between Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe, the H. Moser & Cie. flagship boutique breaks with tradition with its design-focused interior, high ceiling, contrasting deep blue furnishings, and vertical displays. If it weren’t for the watches, you might think the space is an art gallery.

“Hong Kong is an important market for us. We have a dedicated team in Hong Kong since 2013, doing a great job of spreading the spirit of Moser. Our strategy here, as in the rest of the world, is to grow the Moser family, get to know our community as best we can and provide them with the best level of service. We are proud to open our very first boutique, especially in a prime location like Pedder Street in Central, and expect to meet many Moser enthusiasts and friends there, which will strengthen our relationship with them.” Mr. Edouard Meylan, the CEO of the brand, notes.

In collaboration with King Fook’s Masterpiece, the two kicked off the event by presenting the Endeavor Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon Aqua Blue in Hong Kong for the first time. Paulette Sum, CEO of King Fook Holdings Ltd, comments: “Masterpiece by King Fook and H. Moser & Cie. is pleased to enter into a partnership based on the philosophies and values ​​we share and cherish. We look forward to introducing the fascinating timepieces of H. Moser & Cie. to Hong Kong watch collectors and enthusiasts.”

Interested in learning more, we sat down with Edouard Meylan, CEO of H. Moser & Cie., to find out exactly what went into bringing this flagship to life. As the independent watch brand continues to grow, we wanted to take a look back at the evolution of the brand and how it made it to Central’s Pedder Street in just ten years, as well as some of the lessons Meylan learned while running the “Very Rare” brand.

A first boutique is big news, especially one in Central, Hong Kong. Has this been in the making for a while?

The idea has been in our heads ever since we took over. The goal was to eventually open boutiques and we thought this would have happened sooner, but we didn’t quite understand the dynamics needed. We put it on hold because there was so much to deal with with the brand, and in 2019 we revisited the idea and looked at locations.

We started talking to potential partners and looking for opportunities. It was between Dubai and Hong Kong. Dubai absolutely wanted to be first, but it came down to finding the right place. King Fook approached us with this location and it worked. We had looked at many places in Hong Kong and were not 100 percent sold, except for this one. So for this location it’s been less than a year, but the interest has been there from the start.

Why Hong Kong? Do you see a particularly high number of sales here?

Not really. We have global clients, but it is true that Hong Kong is a very mature market, and we have a strong team here that can lead a project like this. Even if we can’t travel, we have a trusted team. And yes, there is that little added benefit that people in Hong Kong are especially attuned to the Moser brand.

You said you had to figure out some things with the Moser branding in the earlier stages. What were things you needed to work on?

It was all about keeping some and changing some that was already set by the previous owners. There are too many brands, so what makes our brand relevant? How can we make it sexy in combination with a great product? We had to improve the language. It’s not about having the biggest marketing budget, it’s about being different, provocative and having fun. This is what attracts our loyal fans.

You guys are known as disruptors in the watch industry. I feel like some of the playfulness has slowed down in recent years. Is this because you changed strategy?

You need the right ideas. It was always about exploring new areas. We try to be very human. In fact, a major launch is coming soon. It doesn’t have to be sassy, ​​but rather about pioneering things. The entrepreneurial spirit. To be independent. The product is always serious.

As Moser grows and the watch brand becomes a standalone entity, will that ever take away some of Precision Engineering AG’s attention? Will we ever see a trade-off at the scale of each respective entity?

We would probably never scale that part of our business. Making 200,000 coil springs is much easier for us than making 2,000 watches. We can scale that up to 500,000 in the coming years. Our focus is to expand our capacity and our capabilities. We’re trying to integrate some of our suppliers and master things that we don’t do today. We want to expand our skills.

Would Moser ever step outside of watches if the branding grew to a higher level, say something like jewelry?

That’s not the plan. We want to stay close to our core business. We are not Cartier or Bvlgari. Look at Rolex. They could probably sell anything – skis, bikes… but they don’t. The smaller you are, the more important it is to be clean and clear. Even wearing women’s watches can make your image fade.

In the field of lifestyle, the collaboration with UNDFTD was unexpected. What was it like working with a team from such a different industry?

It was a great experience. It was LA style meeting Schaffhausen’s style. Our work processes are so different. We brought all kinds of elements from different worlds. I am always looking for opportunities to enter into fun collaborations. 2022 has been about the fashion world with UNDFTD and The Armory, and I think the next exploration we have will be on the history of the Moser brand.

While Moser has its four pillars of watches, it seems the Streamliner has its own fan base and has branched out on its own. Is Moser going to double the success of that model?

The Streamliner is polarizing. Many old customers didn’t like it, but eventually came back as it grew on them. It’s something you have to hold and see in person. It’s a complex design, so it takes some time to understand. That said, we’re keeping things balanced. The Streamliner gets love, but we also released the Pioneer Cylindrical Tourbillon and the Lime Green Endeavor. Balance is important, but so is keeping each model separate.

How much emphasis does Moser place on the research and development of its products? While the brand itself is rooted in the traditional watchmaking of 200 years ago, many of the new releases are quite technical.

We have a team of four and all they do is work on development full time. Some developments are for next year and others until 2028. We have ambitious projects that take 5 to 6 years to complete.

What are some things you learned that you had no idea about when you took over in 2012?

It’s funny because we recently met with all of our partners and I dug up a presentation from 10 years ago. Many of the things we actually implemented. I was surprised because I thought we were mostly learning on the go, but we actually had a lot of these ideas at the time. For example, the Streamliner was an idea I had 7 years ago. It’s evolved, but the idea I had back then was pretty much the same. The brand just wasn’t ready at the time. There were certain things that I was sure of and thought boldly about, like when I thought we were going to quickly grow to 3,000 – 4,000 watches. I thought it would be much easier. Then there were things I had no idea about, like positioning and solving our money crunch.

It’s really a process. There will always be people who challenge you, and you don’t have to change if it works. Social media was hard for us. No matter what we did, people would destroy us on social media. When we launched “Very Rare,” people said it was stupid, but how many brands have memorable slogans? Have faith. We have no choice but to be different, and if you are different, there will always be people who question you. The worst that can happen is that you fail, get back up and start over.

My previous job was also in the luxury category and it failed. A lot of people would be like I wish that had never happened or how horrible, but on the contrary a lot of things we do now are because of the experience of our previous job. It helped me a lot.

It’s funny because in Switzerland you see failure as such a negative thing, but in America it’s more like you have to go through failure to become successful. That is really a different mentality, and I agree with the Americans.

H. Moser & Cie. Flagship Boutique
Store 11, G/F, Central Building,
1-3 Pedder Street, Central, HK

For more interviews, Van Ness Wu discusses how xVESSEL found its way into Footwear.

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