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H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds

Angus Davies reviews the H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds, a timepiece which combines 18-carat red gold with black DLC-treated titanium, delivering a sporty aesthetic.

This detailed review of the H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds includes live images, specification details and pricing.

H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website

In 2014, H. Moser & Cie renamed its existing collection of models, grouping them under the nomenclature ‘Endeavour’. The name paid due reverence to the founder of this small Swiss watch company, Heinrich Moser.

Heinrich, a son of Schaffhausen, was born in 1805, a third generation watchmaker. At the tender age of 19 years, he left his family’s home and commenced a watchmaking apprenticeship in Le Locle. His innate tenacity led him to work long hours in humble surroundings. It was this period of Heinrich’s life which the modern-day company chose to reference with the soubriquet, ‘Endeavour’.

Venturer

Heinrich’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to embark on a gruelling journey to St. Petersburg in the pursuit of commercial success. His journey in 1827 nearly cost him his life as he battled ferociously cold temperatures and hostile seas in order to reach his destination. Heinrich established H. Moser & Cie. in St. Petersburg in 1828. His timepieces were soon readily in demand and his exquisite creations proved popular with Russian princes and members of the Imperial Court.

When H. Moser & Cie renamed its existing collection ‘Endeavour’, it also released a new family of models, the ‘Venturer’, named after the second phase of Moser’s life, featuring more youthful aesthetics.

Pioneer

In 1848, Moser returned to Schaffhausen and established a watch case factory. Moreover, his passion for commerce led him to embark on a venture in 1853, promoting local enterprise. One of his incredible achievements was his instrumental role in harnessing the power of the local Rhine Falls by building a hydro station.

Later in 1857, Florentine Aristo Jones, an American engineer and watchmaker from Boston, utilised this hydro energy in order to power the machines within his newly opened watch factory, the International Watch Co (IWC). The factory continues to sit adjacent the Rhein and interestingly near its entrance sits a statue of Heinrich Moser.

H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website

It was the ‘pioneering’ spirit of Heinrich which provided the inspiration for the naming of the third family of models from H. Moser & Cie, the ‘Pioneer’.

Appealing to a wider audience

The Endeavour collecton has always appealed to my aesthetic sensibilities. It masterfully imparts time in a seemly, considered and graceful manner. Despite some watch companies making outré, highly conspicuous watches which needlessly flaunt the wealth of their owner, Moser has always taken a more understated, muted approach to design. Earlier this year, I wore an Endeavour Perpetual Calendar in platinum in order to write an ‘on the wrist review’ for IW Magazine. I adored the understated lines and elegant expression of time this watch offered and was sad when the time came to return it.

During the time of my temporary ownership, my wife described it as ‘an old man’s watch’. Indeed, I accept its traditional mien may not be to everyone’s taste. However, with an annual production of approximately 1200 watches per annum, the number of likeminded souls who share my passion for Moser, outnumbers the available watches, making these timepieces much sought after.

The Venturer Small Seconds, first released at Baselworld 2014, has subsequently been joined by the Venturer Tourbillon Dual Time. The Venturer collection evinces a younger character and, once again, appeals to my own personal taste. Furthermore, the introduction of the Venturer provides an alternative to the more traditional appearance conferred with Endeavour ownership.

H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website

Now, Moser has enlarged the potential market for its watches still further with the release of a new family of models starting with the timepiece, the Pioneer Centre Seconds. This watch exhibits an agreeable modernity to its design whilst remaining recognisable as a fine watch from H. Moser & Cie.

The dial

Moser offers three dial options for the Pioneer Centre Seconds, namely, red gold fumé, ardoise fumé and argenté. It is this latter variant which I fine particularly appealing.

H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website

Pioneer Centre Seconds with ardoise fumé dial

During each working year, I literally handle hundreds of watches and appraise their forms. The dial of a watch, like the face of a person, is the initial focal point on first acquaintance. On seeing this particular version of the Pioneer Centre Seconds, it was undoubtedly ‘love at first sight’.

The problem with some watches is that in the pursuit of dial detail and interest, the notion of lucidity is lost. Thankfully, no such allegations could be directed at the H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds. Its dial brims with beautiful details, but never at the expense of clarity or ease of interpretation.

H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website

The applied red gold indexes wonderfully define the hours, proffering depth in the process but always succinctly conversing with the wearer. Encircling the dial area, is a fluted flange which provides further structure to the composition. It is punctuated with circular luminescent dots, positioned adjacent the indexes, aiding interpretation in restricted light.

Sinuous hour and minute hands majestically impart the time. They are partially open-worked, revealing some of the dial canvas below, and their curvaceous profiles engage with ambient light delivering a gleaming splendour.

The H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds is seemingly simple in its delivery. However, it is when each detail is examined in macro view that its complexity is revealed. The aforementioned indexes are adorned with numerous facets. The super-svelte central seconds hand is an exemplar of style with its charming open-worked counterweight. Basking in ambient light, the sunray motif on the dial dances sparkles, evincing sumptuous lines which captivate the wearer’s interest.

Moser has produced a delightful dial I doubt I could ever tire of. It is imbued with differing depths and flourishes of style whilst always retaining a notable degree of functionality.

The case

Looking at the H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds directly from above, provides a few clues to its contemporary styling. The black DLC treated titanium crown offers a modern and rather striking juxtaposition with the 18-carat red gold case. The inner part of the lugs is also formed of black DLC treated titanium.

H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website

Turning the watch onto its side, the caseband comes into view and it is stunning. Its golden framework of the caseband sits proud of inlaid black DLC treated titanium. The surface of the black DLC features a series of lines, bestowing an interesting texture to the composition.

H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website

Where the design of the case triumphs is by delivering something wholly new, whilst not eschewing some of the design DNA which makes Moser special. Similar to the Endeavour and Venturer models, the H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds still features swooping lines near the central area of the caseband and the crown continues to be adorned with an ‘M’ logo in relief.

The caseback, retained with eight screws, is presented in black DLC treated titanium and features a sapphire crystal centre stage.

H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website

Note – this is a prototype, hence the movement will feature additional engraving / text

The H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds measures 42.8mm in diameter with a case height of 15mm. The latter figure seems surprising as when I placed the watch upon the wrist it certainly felt thinner, readily nestling beneath the cuff and according a very comfortable fit.

H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website

Completing the sporty quotient of the specification is the black rubber strap, featuring a black DLC treated titanium pin buckle adorned with a motif which echoes the pattern found on the caseband.

H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds - ESCAPEMENT - watch review website

The movement

The in-house automatic calibre HMC230 is equipped with the company’s ingenious bidirectional pawl winding system and a hacking seconds, proving useful when synchronising the watch with a reference clock.

The black oscillating mass, constructed of a suitably dense and undisclosed material, is adorned with the company’s hallmark which is presented in gold.

There clearly has to be some economies made in the specification to justify the comparative difference in price with some of the costlier Endeavour models. Indeed, there is no Straumann Double Hairspring®, nor is the hairspring equipped with a Breguet Overcoil. However, be under no misapprehension, this is a superbly executed movement with the same sublime finishing for which the watch company from Neuhausen am Rheinfall has become known. This is a movement which delivers a superb array of attributes given its relative price point.

Closing remarks

I have been a long time admirer of H. Moser & Cie and have observed with interest the evolution of the company under the stewardship of its present owners, MELB Holding. The brand seems to be ‘on a roll’. Earlier this year, I became smitten with its wonderfully named, ‘ Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Funky Blue’.

The release of the Venturer collection was a shrewd decision by the company’s owners, enlarging the audience for its exquisitely crafted watches.

The launch of the H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds is arguably a very bold and brave move by the historical watch company. While it had the potential to alienate its loyal, existing clientele, I believe the risk was worth taking. I adore this watch and can think of few ways its specification could be enhanced further and predict it will prove a resounding commercial success.

It seems that the steady flow of new modern-day Moser watches represent a fitting tribute to a remarkable entrepreneur whilst proffering fine timepieces to a wider and younger audience.

Technical specification

 

  • Model: H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds
  • Reference: 3230-0900
  • Case: 18-carat red gold and black DLC-treated titanium; diameter 42.8 mm; height 15.0mm; water resistant to 12 bar (120 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds.
  • Movement: Calibre HMC230; self-winding movement; frequency 21,600 vph (3Hz); power reserve minimum 3 days
  • Strap: Rubber strap presented on a black DLC-treated titanium pin buckle
  • Price: £15,800 (RRP as at 2.12.2015)

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