H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Tourbillon Concept Tiger’s Eye: When Less Is More
Successful visual designers and brands who manage to establish, and sustain, distinctive visual styles have my deep admiration. I’m pretty good at a few things that have managed to put food on the table over the years, but the ability to conjure from a blank page anything to look at that is both harmonious and attractive is absolutely not among them.
Luckily, the watch industry has many very talented designers and some discerning brand chiefs! Some brands do better than others at sustaining a visual identity, of course: to my eye an A. Lange & Söhne watch doesn’t need the brand’s name printed on the dial to be instantly recognizable, for instance, and Max Büsser’s collaborations with Eric Giroud and other “Friends” aren’t easily mistaken for products from anyone else.
But what about trying to make the identity of a watch’s maker easily evident when there’s absolutely nothing on the dial? At least of late, I’d argue that no one has done a better job of that particular feat than Edouard Meylan and his gang at H. Moser & Cie.
Something from nothing
By now we’ve all seen the distinctive Moser fumé dials with and without indices and brand logos. And when it comes to minimalism, it’s hard to top the Swiss Alp Final Upgrade with its maddening-to-photograph Vantablack dial and ruthenium-toned hands.
So, I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised when Moser introduced two versions of the Endeavour Tourbillon with blank stone dials punctuated by a view of the tourbillon doing its work, following on earlier versions with fumé and Vantablack dial treatments.
The overall designation of the new sub-line is “Tiger’s Eye” with two variations: the Falcon’s Eye in white gold with a blue-toned dial and the one that I handled and photographed, the Ox’s Eye with brown dial in a red gold case.
A clutter lover’s dilemma
Looking at the watches that I’ve owned over the years, as well as the ones that I love the most during each year’s cycles of new introductions and Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève evaluation, it’s pretty clear that I’m a fan of a certain amount of what I call “pleasant clutter” on a watch dial – or what the design chief of a major brand, who shall remain nameless here, calls “sex on the dial.”
As a result, there are many fantastic watches out there, including some of Moser’s larger fumé-dial pieces, that I admire but that don’t command my wallet to open.
It was with a mix of pleasure and relief, then, that my first view of the Ox’s Eye after cracking the seal on the box revealed a deep and constantly shifting play of light as the Tiger’s Eye stone dial caught the afternoon light coming in through the window.
Over the days that I had the watch in hand, it became my quest to capture the variety of moods conjured up by this dial. I’ll confess freely that my hard drive is full of failed attempts, but a bunch of different lighting schemes, including a trip outside, ultimately yielded results.
Yes, there’s a movement
There is a movement, and a fine one at that!
The two Tiger’s Eye watches are the seventh and eighth Moser references to incorporate the HMC 804 movement with its double hairspring 60-second flying tourbillon visible dial side. Its base can be seen on the reverse of the watch.
Finishing is to the usual Moser standard – while a loupe or macro lens reveals signs of machine finishing, the clean angles and tidy stripes provide visual pop and are very pleasing as seen by the naked eye, and a prominent screwed gold chaton and the laser-relief engraved gold winding weight provide added visual interest and tie the movement to the red gold color of the case.
One thing that I particularly like about Moser’s movements is that they are suitably sized to their cases; this prevents the disappointment that comes from flipping a watch over only to see a sea of bezel surrounding a tiny movement. For the Endeavour Tourbillon this also allows the tourbillon cage to be positioned near the bottom of the dial rather than being crowded up toward the center of the watch.
And a case and buckle
The external bits of the Tiger’s Eye are beautifully done and in the accustomed Moser style as well. The flowing shapes of the case and lugs and the use of vertical brushing on the case band coupled with bright polishing of its curved recesses invites frequent and enjoyable contemplation.
There are two bits of identification visible when the watch is on the wrist: the M initial on the crown and the script logo on the buckle. For me, the flowing look of the buckle logo is a pleasant counterpoint to the otherwise austere look of the watch and having it on the underside of your wrist as you wear the watch makes it seem a bit like your own little secret.
But the dial is the star
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to eat at one of New York’s finest restaurants, one that specializes in seafood dishes. At a later point, when I couldn’t bring its name immediately to mind, I deeply offended a foodie friend of mine by calling it “that fish place.”
In my defense, the password for the restaurant’s wifi connection is “fishisthestar” – and, no, I wasn’t the one who wanted to get on the Internet during a transcendent dining experience badly enough to ask the waiter.
If the Ox’s Eye had its own wifi network, the password would definitely be “dialisthestar.” Moser’s Concept design with its total absence of markings is ideal in my view for the use of the Tiger’s Eye stone; any interruption to the shimmering horizontal bands of light would diminish its appearance.
Depending on light and position the dial varies in appearance from vivid to moody, and while for a photographer it can be a bit tricky to make the red gold feuille-shaped hands stand out from the background, when the watch is seen in person the time is always quite legible.
And if for any reason the play of light on the stone fails to captivate you for a few seconds, there’s always the crisp-looking flying tourbillon to entertain you as it makes its way around its axis in the opening at the lower edge of the dial.
The H. Moser & Cie Ox’s Eye on the wrist
At 40 mm in diameter, compared with some of the other Endeavor Concept Tourbillons at 42 mm, the Ox’s Eye is still not a tiny watch, and despite its downturned lugs and significant convex bezel it wears big to the eye compared to its actual size, at least in my estimation.¨
Wearability is significantly aided, however, by the watch’s reasonable 11.2 mm thickness, and I found that it sat comfortably on my wrist.
Making a blank dial fascinating is quite a feat, and if you have a chance to see one of the H. Moser & Cie Tiger’s Eye pieces in person and watch the light dancing across the veins in the stone I’d strongly recommend it.
Total production of the Ox’s Eye and Falcon’s Eye variants will each be limited to 50 pieces with a maximum of 20 per year of each to be made due to constraints in finding and finishing appropriate stones for the dials. Despite the costs of the dial, the Tiger’s Eye watches are priced the same as the other Concept Tourbillons in the line, so if you are particularly drawn to this look you won’t pay a big penalty for your good taste.
And with its combination of tourbillon and double hairspring as rate-stabilizing mechanisms, the HMC 804 movement has the technical chops to keep up with the aesthetic appeal of this watch.
I’d be very surprised indeed if this were the very first fine watch in anyone’s collection, or even the first by H. Moser & Cie – but I suspect that among Moser enthusiasts, and with collectors of artistic craft pieces such as Patek Philippe’s lapidary works, the 100 pieces to be made across the two colors will quickly find welcoming and appreciative homes.
For more information, please visit www.h-moser.com/product/endeavour-tourbillon-oxs-eye.
Quick Facts H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Tourbillon Concept Tiger’s Eye Ox’s Eye Reference 1804-0401
Case: 40 x 11.2 mm, red gold case with polished bezels and brushed and polished case band; sapphire crystal front and exhibition back crystals; concave front bezel; water resistance 3 ATM
Dial and hands: polished brown-toned Ox’s Eye Tiger Eye stone with horizontal veining; visible flying tourbillon with skeletonized bridges; feuille-shaped hands in red gold
Movement: automatic Caliber HMC 804 with one-minute flying tourbillon and double hairspring; 72-hour power reserve; 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: introductory 2021 retail price CHF 69,000 / $75,900
Limitation: 50 pieces in red gold with brown Ox’s Eye dial (additional 50 pieces of Ref. 1804-0222 in white gold with blue Falcon’s Eye stone dial); no more than 20 pieces in each color to be manufactured in a single year