H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Perpetual Calendar On The Wrist
Back in 2005, most people – even people intimately involved in the watch industry – had not heard of Heinrich Moser or H. Moser & Cie.
That is because at that time, H. Moser & Cie was a new brand entering the luxury watch scene. A new brand in a way, yes, but one comprising experienced faces, longtime industry players, and the pedigree of an historical watchmaker/inventor.
Having the chance to wear the H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Perpetual Calendar for several weeks reminded me a great deal of the evening the brand launched in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. So in addition to reporting here on the watch itself, I’m going to also provide a few details of recent history.
It was Dr. Jürgen Lange, a German engineer previously employed by big players like IWC and Eterna, who struck out on his own in 2002 with the idea of registering a new brand called Moser Schaffhausen AG. He made Moser’s great-grandson, Roger Nicholas Balsiger, honorary chairman of the board of directors (Moser’s name had died out with the passing of the sonless Henri Moser).
Lange recruited some great names from behind the scenes in terms of freelance watchmakers and creative heads to help design movements and come up with new and improved technical solutions. These included Andreas Strehler (prominent A.H.C.I. member), Rolf Lang (formerly of A. Lange & Söhne and father of Marco Lang of Lang & Heyne), and Jörg Spöring (famed for his collaboration on the Türler clock restored by Ludwig Oechslin).
What struck me at the launch of H. Moser & Cie perhaps the most was the MB&F-style transparency (as we have come to know it) the new brand practiced in revealing of the origins of it components, especially the movements and technological expertise behind them. All of the suppliers and watchmakers involved were invited to the launch and encouraged to freely move about the room filled with mainly Swiss and German journalists to talk about the project and their involvement in it.
At the time, the company didn’t even own its own factory – but Lange surely knew how much he would change that at the time of the launch. Only a short few years later, by 2007, Moser would not only boast its own factory, but was even manufacturing its own balance springs. By the end of the decade, Moser’s Precision Engineering had become a sought-after supplier of balance springs.
Moser Perpetual 1
Moser & Cie. premiered three timepieces in 2005. One of these was the Mayu with a large subsidiary seconds dial outfitted with hand-wound Caliber HMC 321. The classic three-handed watch with a large date window at 6 o’clock was dubbed the Monard. It, too, was a manually wound caliber outfitted with twin spring barrels to guarantee power reserve for at least seven days.
However, the most spectacular piece was the perpetual calendar christened the Moser Perpetual 1, whose movement was designed by Strehler.
Not only did it include classic good looks and a few technical niceties, this perpetual calendar was unlike any other on the market at the time, most of which were generally crowded with functions and difficult to read.
The Moser Perpetual 1’s extraordinarily clean dial was fully in line with the classicism and elegance of the entire line of debuts. And it was the first in the world to be outfitted with a so-called flash calendar, a patented mechanism that allows the date to jump immediately to the first of the next month at the end of one month, regardless of the month’s length and without showing any intermediate dates.
The incorrect date is never seen, meaning that February 28 is immediately followed by March 1 in the window.
The large date located at 3 o’clock is also a patented Strehler invention that utilizes two disks placed on top of each other, but both using the same gear wheel.
The Perpetual 1 is also a perpetual calendar that can be adjusted both forward and backward, an absolute rarity in 2005, with only Ulysse Nardin’s calendar and GMT functions to rival it at the time.
Manually wound caliber HMC 341 is outfitted with twin spring barrels for a power reserve of seven days – particularly important in a perpetual calendar. The display of the month is ingeniously solved by a neat little hand located underneath the hour and minute hands that uses the hour markers simultaneously as month markers.
The leap year indication was delegated to the case back and can be adjusted by activating a recessed pusher with a stylus. A power reserve display has been integrated into the arrangement of hour markers between 8 and 10 o’clock so that it does not disturb the continuity of the very classic dial.
An optimized gear tooth shape, which Lange called “Moser toothing” at its launch that “guarantees the longevity of the entire gear train” is as unique as the bevel gears in the winding mechanism, a technology that was not yet very common at the time.
This balance contains a true screw balance, used as originally intended in place of an index, with the little white gold screws containing threads of less than 0.35 mm screwed in tightly for mass and four regulating screws made of steel to adjust the rate.
Moser’s double-pull crown – also a Strehler invention – allows the wearer to select the various positions of the crown more precisely than on most other watches.
Solid gold LIGA
And though this is no longer important to the watches in Moser’s current collection, I feel I must bring this up here as it thoroughly foreshadowed the enthusiasm for technical elements that characterized the new Moser and obviously continues to do so today.
On another level, this was actually the element that propelled me personally into the research of LIGA and new materials, which I might not have done were I not so intrigued by this.
LIGA (a German acronym standing for lithography, electroplating, and molding) is a manufacturing process for microstructures developed by the German Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe Institute for Microstructure Technology (KIT) in the 1980s. It was made eminently applicable to horology by the Swiss companies Mimotec and CSEM, who modified the process for the watch industry.
Dr. Jürgen Lange, aware of the LIGA process, was inspired by Patek Philippe’s work with CSEM on that brand’s silicon balance wheel. He thought he might be able to harness one of the new technologies for use in an assembly meant to pay homage to Moser’s past: using it to manufacture a solid gold escape wheel and pallet lever.
Lange’s idea was to modify the LIGA process to manufacture the elements in solid gold, which would make them perfectly smooth, thereby eliminating the need for lubrication (and finishing). This caused the research institute to later found a commercial department for manufacturing and selling such components for the watch and medical industries called Microworks.
These solid gold elements were made to be part of a most striking subassembly: the movement’s interchangeable escapement module. It is the escapement that often causes many luxury watches to be sent to the factory for adjustment, repair, or maintenance, leaving the timepiece’s owner without his or her watch for months at a time. The detachable escapement securely screwed to its plate makes it possible for the watchmaker to just replace the faulty escapement with a “loaner” – or even just exchange it – while it is in for servicing or repair.
This interchangeable escapement module is a Strehler design that was patented by Moser; the patent names both Strehler and Lange as inventors.
Endeavour Perpetual Calendar
Moser’s Endeavour Perpetual Calendar is the direct descendant of the Perpetual 1, which took home the prize for best complication watch at the 2006 edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
The Endeavour is very similar to the Perpetual 1, the biggest change perhaps being its name and slight changes in dial appearance.
When MELB took over the financially ailing Moser in 2014 – along with Hautlence, for more on that see Hautlence, Branding, Eric Cantona, And The 10-Year Anniversary – new CEO Edouard Meylan instituted a number of changes aimed at raising brand awareness and appeal to a younger audience, while being careful not to lose the appeal for fans already attracted in nine years – of which there are many among connoisseurs.
One of the modifications Meylan instituted was to revamp the collection names, so the Perpetual 1 became the Endeavour.
What thankfully remains is that this perpetual calendar is exceptionally easy to use and read, retaining its gorgeously restrained dial, classic styling, and great reliability. It is truly hard to peg this watch as a perpetual calendar because its dial is so clean without the typical registers to clutter it.
The leap years (an unessential piece of information for daily use, but necessary for setting) are placed on the back, while the months are still shown in a very unique way: the little arrow emanating from the center points to the general direction of the 12 hour markers. If you use these markers to represent months (1 = January; 2 = February, etc.), you’ll find it works just as well without taking up any dial real estate.
There have however been a couple of technical changes inside the movement, but not due to the brand’s new ownership. These came about as a result of the founding of Moser’s own factory in 2007, Precision Engineering, Aside from making its own balance springs, the next biggest change coming along with the new manufacturing premises was to modify the gold pallet fork and escape wheel.
After a few years of working with the 24-karat gold components, Jürgen Lange moved the production of that in house. Instead of being LIGA-manufactured, these two very important components were now manufactured in-house on a wire spark erosion machine using a special alloy that is a bit harder than the 24-karat LIGA gold. Though it was initially quite difficult to manufacture to the precision needed, this production method now works perfectly and is found inside the perpetual calendar’s movement.
The interchangeable escapement system and the Straumann balance springs manufactured by Precision Engineering are also sold to high quality third-party brands including (but not only) Laurent Ferrier and Armin Strom.
Finally, I would like to address the price of the Moser Perpetual 1 at $70,000. When compared with perpetual calendar timepieces of other reputable companies, this seems very reasonable. When you think about the fact that Moser manufactures less than 1,000 pieces per year almost entirely on premises, this is quite a feat. As is the whole watch.
Case: 40.8 x 11.05 mm, platinum (also available in white or pink gold or blackened titanium)
Movement: manually wound Caliber HMC 341 with seven-day power reserve (twin spring barrels) and Straumann (in-house) hairspring and pallet fork and escape wheel in gold; 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz) frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, (hacking) seconds; large date, power reserve display (up/down), perpetual calendar with months (shown by small arrow), leap years on back
Price: € 60,000 / $70,000