The H. Moser & Cie. Pioneer Cylindrical Tourbillon is a new direction for the independent brand that showcases its technical proficiency
Of late, H. Moser & Cie. has let its watchmaking and design do the talking—things that the independent brand had mastered long ago, but sometimes overshadowed by its irreverence and provocative cheese– or plant-based one-offs. Not so these days; behind recent hits such as the wildly popular Streamliner collection and the much-applauded collaboration with MB&F, the brand is—dare it be said—maturing.
The Pioneer Cylindrical Tourbillon Skeleton is H. Moser & Cie.’s next move. Aside from a few one-offs and limited runs, it is the brand’s first skeleton watch—certainly the first of a modern interpretation, with the skeletonised calibre HMC 811 exposed with a dark finish. It boasts of a flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock, as well as the piece’s real technical highlight in the cylindrical hairspring.
The hairspring, which dances at the heart of every mechanical watch, is something of a pinnacle benchmark for a manufacture. It is an incredibly difficult component to make, and only a handful of entities in Switzerland have that capability. H. Moser & Cie., through its sister company Precision Engineering, is one of them.
Unlike the usual flat, spiral hairsprings, cylindrical hairsprings have a height, like a spring. Its concentric nature and two Breguet curves (one at each attachment point) make it a more consistent oscillator than the flat hairspring. It is not a new invention, and was common to marine chronometers of centuries ago. However, one of the many challenges to creating this one was to make it compact enough to fit in a wristwatch. They also take a lot more time to make, and there is a high rate of defects that have to be discarded. “We had to develop a lot of knowledge,” says Edouard Meylan, CEO of H. Moser & Cie., noting that it took a couple of years of production before the brand was able to produce truly high quality cylindrical hairsprings.
One of the main motivations behind this movement, Meylan adds, was to show the world what the brand can do. “It’s part of the knowledge of Moser. We do our own hairsprings. We don’t go to somebody else. We do amazing things for others. Why not show it to the public?” he says.
Precision Engineering has supplied quite a number of cylindrical hairsprings to other manufactures, but the first time it went to an in-house timepiece was in 2020 for the H. Moser x MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon. That limited edition was an exploration of three-dimensionality, and this philosophy is further explored by the Pioneer Cylindrical Tourbillon Skeleton. The entire watch was designed with this in mind—the cylindrical hairspring is no afterthought, its height an integral part of the composition. The dark grey bridges of the movement thus have real depth to their architecture, while the Funky Blue fume subdial at 12 o’clock is curved and has prominently raised ceramic-based lumed markers. The steel case comes in at just under 43mm in diameter, while the domed sapphire crystal raised the height to 15.3mm—without the sapphire, it is a more wearable 11.7mm thick. In keeping with the sportiness of the Pioneer collection, the watch is water resistant to 120m.
Thanks to its highly recognisable design codes, the brand these days uses a translucent logo or often drops it entirely from the dial—but this is not the case for the Pioneer Cylindrical Tourbillon Skeleton. “This is the first time we are venturing into this… it’s kind of new for Moser, so let’s make sure people know,” Meylan explains.
H. Moser & Cie. enjoys a burgeoning demand, but collectors in Malaysia and Singapore have a different avenue to get a similar watch. In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Cortina Watch, the brand has produced the Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon Skeleton in a limited run of 10 pieces. It uses the same movement, but the case this time is in red gold, with details such as the crown in the Endeavour’s more traditional style. The subdial has no lume, and instead sports gold leaf-shaped hands, railroad markers and Roman numerals. There is an overall different mood to this watch—whereas the Pioneer’s more contemporary styling was in sync with the modernity of the movement, the proposition here is one of subtle contrast.