H. Moser Venturer Small Seconds Vantablack
You’ve taken the bold step of taking the brand name off the dials of some watches. Why?
It is a bold move, surprising customers. It creates trends, and moves away from the marketing trend of having the brand name on the dial. The purpose of the brand names on the dial is to create advertising campaigns, but we think our watches speak for themselves. Yes, people have told us that they miss the brand name, but this is because our brains are trained to look for the brand names. Eventually (in some cases) clients told us that they wished they had gotten the versions without the brand names! It might be a different matter if you have ‘Chronometre’ and ‘Water-Resistant to XXX,’ and of course ‘Swiss Made’ but we have gotten rid of everything. In any case, we don’t need everyone to understand, just 1,500 people a year!
To be real, we had long discussions about removing the logo from every single watch, and we didn’t do it. We felt that maybe not enough people would understand it, if it was for every watch. I’m still questioning myself today, whether we should have take that step a few years ago. One day we might be “brand-less!”
Give us an example of where you had an idea that you didn’t think the market was ready for, but went for it anyway.
We did this campaign about “size matters” and it was perhaps not the most elegant thing. (We saw it when it appeared, and it lacked the easy charisma of the videos featuring Meylan himself, but it certainly wasn’t terrible – Editor). It is better to try things, make mistakes and learn from them. As an independent brand, you have to try new things. The Swiss Icons Watch of course was extremely painful, for everybody in the team. It was difficult to go through this period when we received a lot of threats, and there was a lot of uncertainty. But we had to go through it because we learned how we can do things better. On one side, we need to grow the brand but then again, we also need to protect the brand. From this experience, we learned a lot about that balance. I still think it was a great idea, but it was not well-implemented, and that’s a mistake on my part.
(The Swiss Icons Watch was a combination of iconic design elements from very famous watchmaking brands, that was interpreted as either a tribute or an attack. It was never made available in any form – Editor)
On the other hand, we love the character Henri (of Ask Henri on the website) very much. How important are stories like this to H. Moser & Cie, and to haute horlogerie watches in general?
The idea came from our agency in Paris actually. After the episode with the Swiss Icons Watch, we decided that we need expertise to keep us from making big mistakes. We work with them to create content. I felt we were very good at provoking, as you said, but we weren’t very good at talking about our history and production capabilities. It can get boring very quickly. We wanted to still have a sense of humour while doing this, so that’s how Henri – the son of the founder Heinrich Moser – came into the picture. He really was a dandy, a crazy character…looking at our brand through his eyes was interesting and fun…rather than just (doing a history lesson).
It’s always about the human story. We also have Roger Balsiger (the Honorary Chairman of H. Moser & Cie, and the great grandson of Heinrich Moser) to tell the story of the H. Moser & Cie company. Unlike Henri (of Ask Henri), Roger is still with the company! So we have Henri, who’s dead, and Roger, who’s alive! We have our master watchmaker, Olivie,r too, to tell the story of the movements…whatever it happens to be, whether it is humour or something technical or historical, there has to be a human element. So it is not always about me, which it has been in the past, but it should not be. Because there are lot of people (at H. Moser & Cie) who are more important than me.