Summer 2012: H. Moser & Cie. is on the verge of bankruptcy, with seemingly no buyers on the horizon. Its situation is desperateand its performance catastrophic, despite the many assets of the brand; namely a fully integrated manufacture that creates innovative products built on a rich and unique history. Enter MELB Holding, an independent Swiss family group owned by the Meylan family. After conducting emergency due diligence, MELB Holding becomes the majority shareholder of H. Moser & Cie. and its sister company, Precision Engineering AG. The acquisition heralds the start of a long process of reconstruction, transformation and revolution.
In the ten years since, what was once known as “the little pearl of Schaffhausen” has forged its own path and gained a new brilliance under the leadership of Edouard Meylan, supported by his brother, Bertrand. The last decade has seen a fivefold increase in production, an eightfold increase in turnover, with the group’s profitability significantly above average for the Swiss watchmaking sector. Today, the MELB Group employs around a hundred people across sites in Schaffhausen, Hong Kong, Dubai and New York. H. Moser & Cie. is now the clear frontrunner in the realm of independent watchmaking, drawing on tradition to drive its innovation, and adopting an offbeat and inimitably down-to-earth communication style.
A successful record
When MELB Holding took over H. Moser & Cie. in 2012, the brand was in a perilous state. Yet, despite being in the red with little brand awareness among the general public, the company had a certain aura and a potential that were immediately obvious to the Meylan family.
With a full-fledged manufacture at its disposal, it even mastered the production of regulating organs and balance springs through its sister company, Precision Engineering AG. It also boasted a rich and fascinating history spanning almost two centuries, as well as its own unique products.
With a keen appreciation of the finest watchmaking traditions, the Meylan family opted to use the brand’s existing strengths as a basis for its development: “The idea was to draw on what had already been done well – and there were lots of good things – and to further improve this by adding a bit of our own personality, i.e. by respecting the past but incorporating a contemporary and occasionally irreverent edge“. That was the result that Edouard, as CEO of H. Moser & Cie., set out to achieve, supported by his brother, Bertrand, as CEO of MELB Luxe Subsidiaries, and a loyal team.
There were numerous challenges to overcome, but the list of accomplishments and successes is astounding. Over ten years, the brand has built a global reputation, played a pioneering role in embracing the digital era, reached new audiences and connected with an engaged community.
Sixteen manufacture calibres have been developed, and five new collections introduced, including one-offs such as the Swiss Alp Watch and the Venturer, as well as permanent ones for the Heritage, Pioneer and Streamliner lines, which complement the core Endeavour collection.
A multi-phase process
This extraordinary project has been undertaken in multiple phases, requiring the involvement of all the H. Moser teams, from engineers to watchmakers and CNC technicians, as well as all other collaborators at the manufacture and around the world. The first phase – inevitably – was the restructuring. This was a necessary step to ensure the brand could start out on the best footing to tackle the re-engineering step, by streamlining and optimizing processes to improve efficiency.
As soon as it was financially feasible, the manufacture was completely redesigned, with an emphasis on modernization through the purchase of new machines dedicated to milling, but also for very specific tasks related to the manufacture of hairsprings, such as coiling and rolling. At the same time, in-depth work was carried out to reposition the brand’s image, with the adoption of an engaged communication strategy with a fresh, bold and transparent approach symbolised by enticing products.
Introduced in 2015, the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Funky Blue was the first example of renewal at H. Moser & Cie.: Equipped with the brand’s ingenious and award-winning perpetual calendar movement, with the added dynamism of an electric blue gradient dial never before seen on an Haute Horlogerie model, and a rugged, raw leather strap.
In the same year, Edouard decided to release a Concept watch devoid of logos and indexes, in a break with the prevailing overblown watchmaking trend. This proved that real luxury is a question of identity, with the central focus squarely on the product itself. The message hit home, and the direction was universally approved.
The following year, H. Moser & Cie. caused a stir with the release of the Swiss Alp Watch, a fully traditional watch that looked like a connected watch and which promoted the values of mechanical watchmaking.
In 2017, the Swiss Mad Watch, with its case made from cheese, threw down the gauntlet over what the company perceived as overly lenient Swiss Made criteria, and was followed in 2019 by the Moser Nature Watch, a genuine commitment to sustainable development.
As the new releases stacked up, the H. Moser & Cie. voice started to be heard and its reputation grew. Finally, in 2020, and in the midst of the pandemic, H. Moser & Cie. released its new Streamliner collection, featuring an integrated metal bracelet with a singular, fluid design.
It was an instant success, enabling H. Moser & Cie. to attain a level of stability that the brand still enjoys today.
A bright future
In 2022, H. Moser & Cie. embodies exceptional watchmaking, built on traditional roots and offering timeless elegance with an artfully provocative edge. The brand enjoys an independence and flexibility that offer it great freedom to act and respond.
With four complementary collections, each one beautifully balanced and exhibiting its own personality, it was one of the first brands to embark on the digital journey, launching an e-commerce platform perfectly in sync with the times. In terms of distribution, H. Moser & Cie. is supported by its three subsidiaries in Asia, the Middle East and America, as well as by a network of long-standing partners.
The company is also planning to strengthen its presence among its network of retailers, and will open its first boutique in December 2022 in Hong Kong, with more to follow shortly. The future looks very bright for the Meylan family and its teams.
H. Moser & Cie.’s own and unique take on Haute Horlogerie.