H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Flying Hours: Great Expectations Just Got Greater (Star Wheels Tend To Do That)
Lowering expectations to raise willingness seems kind of counterintuitive. However, this basic psychology concept can be a powerful tool for priming a person’s mind to accept, and perhaps even excitedly anticipate, something a little different, which is why the technique is often seen in politics and business.
In politics, lowering expectations is almost always used to help push agendas that might be considered too intense on their own, but when compared to more extreme alternatives suddenly become a bit more palatable.
In business, this is almost always found in negotiations, with either extremely high or low offers being proposed to make the next offer seem much more reasonable. By priming someone with a low-ball offer that seems offensive, or an extremely high quote that seems extravagant, the offers that fall nearer to the average feel much better and are more likely to be accepted.
The technique doesn’t always need to be nefarious; sometimes it can be used to help shake off expectations so that good ideas are more likely to be welcomed with open arms. Technological progress can oftentimes be hampered by a public perception that something is “too much,” be it too small, too large, too heavy, too light, too expensive, too cheap, too complicated, too simple, or too anything else.
It is well known to those who study behavior that people don’t like change. It causes uneasiness, with great ideas sometimes losing out to fear or complacency.
In the past few years, I have begun wondering about a certain watch brand, its choices, and the reasoning behind them. The brand is H. Moser & Cie, and as an example of why I have brought this marque up, for three SIHH fairs straight it has launched watches intended to take jabs at the watch industry in one way or the other.
And, boy, has it created a stir in various watch circles.
It began with the Swiss Alp Watch in 2016, a high-end mechanical timepiece modeled almost exactly on the shape of the Apple Watch mere months after it launched.
That was followed up with the Swiss Mad watch in 2017, housed in a case made from Swiss cheese (mixed with a polymer resin). It launched with a very tongue-in-cheek video poking fun at Swiss watches, Swiss culture, even newly elected U.S. President Trump, all narrated by H. Moser & Cie CEO Edouard Meylan (see H. Moser & Cie. Creates $1 Million Watch Made Of Genuine Swiss Cheese).
As promotional videos go, this one is actually a stunning example of breaking the status quo into millions of pieces as a way to bring awareness to a small brand and a systemic issue within a niche industry. It also ticked off a lot of people who didn’t appreciate the joke, while the rest of us thought it was hilarious.
The brand even gave away red baseball hats at the SIHH printed with the words “Make Swiss Made Great Again,” clearly committing to the bit.
And then in 2018 there was the infamous Swiss Icons watch, a “Frankenwatch” composed of details pulled from at least a dozen different watches and brands. Sampling from every major player, it was a timepiece that never saw the light of day. Its plug was pulled less than 48 hours after the digital announcement.
Yeah, the Swiss Icons watch made a splash and then disappeared into the ether. But the impact was always more important than the watch itself: the point was to open eyes, change minds, and allow people to think something different.
At least, that is one result hopefully H. Moser is going to take advantage of.
But H. Moser hasn’t only been about those timepieces; it has continued to produce amazing watches in addition to a slow shift away from the clean, no-extra-indications format toward producing more visually complicated pieces, albeit in a very “Moser” way.
Moser & Cie wants to be more, as the Swiss Alp Minute Retrograde and the Swiss Alp Minute Repeater hint at.
But all of that shifting combined with the posturing, positioning, and conditioning of the “conversation” watches aids in getting people used to the idea of H. Moser & Cie being something other than ultra-conservative and, according to more than one unsolicited opinion, “lacking excitement.” While I don’t share those opinions, I can see where they come from.
Moser has focused intently on producing some of the best, nicely finished, clean mechanical watches with pure horological pedigree. This company just makes superb no-frills watches.
So to bring Moser where Meylan and the rest of management want to take it opinions need to be changed, hence the standout pieces. The decision to create them was layered to be sure, but I honestly believe it is part of a shift to allow H. Moser & Cie to be everything it can be and more.
Making way for awesome
Which brings us to the reason we are here today: the other big release from January 2018, the Endeavour Flying Hours. This is only the second piece to feature something less than perfectly traditional for a dial or time display, and yet it does it in a very Moser manner.
The new Endeavour Flying Hours is a take on the star wheel, and at first glance one might not guess it came from Moser if it wasn’t for the now-typical fumé dial and textbook minimalism. If this watch had been released out of the blue five years ago, it may have presented too sharp a departure for the ardent fans, and casual onlookers may have thought it looked too simple.
But in context with what the brand has been doing for the past few years, and seeing the extreme releases over the last two years, the Endeavour Flying Hours is a breath of fresh air as well as something familiar enough to not offend or turn off.
It is, in essence, a more reasonable offer when considered against something like the Swiss Mad watch.
And, of course, it is awesomazing.
Many watch lovers that I know adore the star wheel concept since it combines simplicity, complexity, and uniqueness – and it is something you won’t see on too many people’s wrists.
Simply put, it’s always kind of special to wear a star wheel complication.
So for Moser to go for this complication in its first atypical time display exclusive (so far) to H. Moser & Cie, it shows that the brand is horologically well versed and itching to expand what it is about.
The star wheel mechanism comprises one of the most sought after models from Audemars Piguet, one of the most traditional big brands, so using this complication puts H. Moser in with very good company. But Moser still likes to do things its own way, and the Endeavour Flying Hours is no exception.
Star Wheel with a twist but no turns
The Endeavour Flying Hours is, as I stated before, based on the star wheel mechanism. But it actually doesn’t function the same way. In fact, the method the Endeavour Flying Hours uses is technically a bit less difficult to adjust and get working since the majority of the components don’t need to rotate around the dial and are instead positionally fixed.
This reduces the mass that needs to be constantly moved and simplifies the adjusting process for springs and positions.
The way it works is based on three hour disks distributed around the central staff at 120 degrees. Each disk has a star wheel attached to it for proper indexing. The hour disks don’t fly around the dial (which makes the Endeavour Flying Hours a misnomer I’m willing to accept), but maintain their positions at 4, 8, and 12 o’clock. The stationary disks point to the minutes as they rotate.
In the center is a circular bridge that supports the jeweled pivots for the disks and provides a background for the minutes indication. The minutes are printed on a sapphire crystal disk rotating in the center, with the minute track taking up 240 degrees of a circle. This allows the minutes to be indicated continuously, alternating between hour disks.
The activated hour disk utilizes an arrow to point to the minutes as they pass by, and as it reaches 60 the zero point is aligned to be indicated by the next hour disk that advances.
Behind the hour disks is a small sector of white that only shows when the disk is rotated into the display position, with numerals and arrow pointing toward the center. Otherwise, the hour disks are in an in-between position where the color behind the disks are dark so the cutouts in the disks don’t stand out as sharply.
So while the design of the mechanism is friendlier to the watchmaker, the display is a bit more difficult to get used to since the position to read the minutes changes every hour, as does the position of the hour numeral. Instead of tracing a repeated path, each hour presents a new way to read the time, repeating every three hours obviously.
But that is really a minor issue since wearing something like this is about the variability in the time display, a change from the standard hands that travel 360 degrees every hour or 12 hours. The design, like most H. Moser pieces, is free of superfluous details that would complicate the watch.
The dial has enough on it to require more than a quick glance to check the time, so the typical minimalism of Moser keeps it visually on track, avoiding clutter.
What is most important is that the Endeavour Flying Hours is another shift from normal for H. Moser & Cie, something that helps the brand attract new clients and expand options for existing fans. The controversial pieces Moser has released in the last couple years may have been highly polarizing, but the Endeavour Flying Hours feels like a return to the middle, almost, as something unexpected yet welcome when taken in context with everything the brand has released.
I can only theorize that Meylan thought about this as part of his brand strategy, but, regardless, the practice (inadvertent or not) worked well to create a more receptive audience for this shift from traditional Moser aesthetics. The look and feel of the Endeavour Flying Hours is different while being familiar, which is always a winning combination if people are open to the change.
Even though it doesn’t fly per se, we can still break it down!
- Wowza Factor * 9.8 Star light, star bright, first star wheel I see tonight!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 98.5 » 965.955m/s2 Anything that displays time with a star wheel-esque design is going to make me lust deep into the wee hours of the morning!
- M.G.R. * 66.9 A new take on a star wheel mechanism sitting atop a Moser movement is kind of hard to beat right now.
- Added-Functionitis * N/A Time only yet again! Some of the coolest pieces focus on unique time displays over complications and I can’t complain. Still, no need for Gotta-HAVE-That cream even though it is dang awesome!
- Ouch Outline * 11.6 Taking a sharp chip crumb to the gums! Anyone that has snacked has probably experienced the rogue chip fragment jabbing you in the gums, or worse, getting pushed into the area between your gums and your teeth. Youch. Yet I would do it again for this watch to find its way to my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * If not immediate, wait an hour and then try again! Seriously, if you aren’t immediately smitten, by the next hour the connection should be cemented. Just make sure you send out the invites for the reception!
- Awesome Total * 990 Multiply the number of disks in the display (3) by the number of pieces in the limited edition (60) and then multiply the result by the thickness of the movement (5.5) and you wind up with a triply awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.h-moser.com.
Quick Facts H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Flying Hours
Case: 42 x 12 mm, white gold
Movement: automatic Caliber C806, developed in partnership with Hautlence and based on H. Moser Caliber HMC 200
Functions: hours and minutes via rotating disks
Limitation: 60 pieces
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Also published on Medium.