H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Mad Watch Unique Piece. The Watch with a Cheese Case Priced at $1.07 Million USD.

In response to new legislation on the Swiss Made ordinance for watches, H. Moser & Cie. launched the Swiss Mad Watch unique piece earlier this year. To make a statement as they usually do, they released the Swiss Mad Watch which is truly a 100% Swiss watch. With its in-house movement encapsulated in a 42 mm case made of Swiss cheese mixed with Itr2 composite —almost like a resin— and fastened by a hand-stitched cowhide strap from a Swiss cow, this is truly a 100% Swiss Made watch from top to bottom. Well, even the packaging is a recycled Swiss cheese wooden box from the Vallée de Joux that is also Swiss made. In reality it doesn't get more Swiss than this, especially nowadays when 'Swiss Made' really doesn't mean that much anymore.

According to the 'Swissness' law Ordinance 232.119 from December 23, 1971 by the Swiss Federal Council regarding the utilization of the label 'Swiss' on watches, the law defines a 'Swiss Made' wristwatch, as a time measuring device where its movement does not exceed 50 mm in width, length or diameter and its movement is not thicker than 12 mm including the main plate and bridges. Additionally, a 'Swiss Made' wristwatch has to have a 'Swiss' movement, has to be cased up in Switzerland and the final quality control inspection by the manufacturer has to take place also in Switzerland. However, in reality, this law includes a huge loophole where the Swiss law states that a 'Swiss' movement, is a movement that has been assembled in Switzerland, that has been controlled by the manufacturer in Switzerland and that at least 50% of the 'value' of all its components/parts were made in Switzerland—without taking into consideration, the cost of labor for its assembly. Here the key word to keep in mind is 'value', and that's how some watch companies are able to get around the law. Therefore, what this means, is that a large number of entry-level and mid-level timepieces that bear the designation 'Swiss Made' are in fact mostly manufactured in Asia —cases, dials and bracelets— and fitted with a designated 'Swiss movement' that in reality is made up of components also manufactured outside of Switzerland. Therefore, is very important to decide who you buy from.

With its Swiss Mad Watch and the Venturer Swiss Mad model, H. Moser & Cie. is highlighting the weakness in the Swiss Made legislation for watches. Its message is simple but powerful: no to Swiss Made, yes to Swissness. H. Moser & Cie. has decided to remove the Swiss Made label from the dial of all new watches created from 2017 onwards. Per the revised ordinance, the value of components can account for the cost of the dial and hands, if they have been installed in Switzerland, regardless of their origin. Additionally, the cost to assemble the watch, can be taken into consideration only when an international certification guarantees that due to an industrial strategic partnership, there is equivalence in quality between the foreign components and the 'Swiss' components. As you can see, it is fairly easy to get up to that 50% 'Swiss' manufactured that the law stipulates and some companies —especially the micro-brands— are getting away with it by designating their watches as 'Swiss Made' when in reality they are more Asian than anything else.

The Case & Strap

Because the 50% relates to value and not to the number of components, it is not surprising to find some watches out there where probably no more than 20% to 25% of their components were indeed made in Switzerland. This is one of the things that differentiates a true in-house Swiss Manufacture —that makes their own components at the manufacture— from others. Additionally, a watch case is considered 'Swiss' when the case undergoes at least one essential manufacturing operation —such as polishing, turning or stamping— in Switzerland, if it has been assembled and tested in Switzerland and if at least 50 percent of the cost of manufacture —excluding the value of the material— is accounted for by operations carried out in Switzerland.

However, this is a huge loophole as the actual case could be coming straight from Asia in an unfinished state and as long as the finishing touches and testing is done in Switzerland, the case can be considered a 'Swiss' component. Another big loophole of the ordinance and one that allows for some companies to get away with Asian made cases being sold in 'Swiss Made' watches. Here's where the brilliance from H. Moser & Cie. gave the Swiss watch industry the biggest punch by making the case for their Swiss Mad watch out of Swiss cheese and the strap out of Swiss cowhide.

The Dial

Honoring its 'Swissness', the H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Mad Watch is fitted with a red fumé dial with sunburst pattern and white lacquered applied indexes and hour and minute hands in the shape of a swallow's tail to allude to the white cross in the Swiss flag. The dial is a true chameleon that presents different hues of red depending on the lighting conditions.

The Movement

As far as mechanical watches are concerned, this revision to the ordinance might not have a huge impact on how much of the watch is indeed in reality 'Swiss Made'; however, it might deter some companies from continuing to maximize profits by virtue of getting most of their significant components made in Asia opposed to Switzerland. For now, we can tell you that H. Moser & Cie. movements are fully developed and manufactured in-house, which is a sign of a true manufacture. The H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Mad Watch Unique Piece is powered by the in-house manual wound movement HMC 327. This 29-jewel movement beats at a frequency of 18,000 vph to provide a power reserve of 3 days. The movement is equipped with a power reserve indicator visible via the display case back.

On the Wrist & Pricing

On the wrist, the H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Mad Watch Unique Piece wears true to its size and light as a piece of Swiss cheese on a cracker. A great initiative by H. Moser & Cie. to uncover the veil that hides the loopholes of the 'Swissness Law Ordinance' regarding the 'Swiss Made' designation for watches.

To make things even more interesting, H. Moser& Cie. decided to price this watch at CHF 1,081,291, Swiss Francs and all proceeds from the sale of this watch will be used to create a fund to support independent Swiss watchmaking suppliers currently suffering under the difficult economic situation and outsourcing to Asia. The unique price tag alludes to the date —1st of August, 1291 which outside of the U.S. would be marked as 1.08.1291— in which the Swiss Confederacy was born via after the Federal Charter of 1291 was signed.

Well done H. Moser & Cie.!

Sticker Price CHF 1,081,291 Swiss Francs —approximately $1,070, 000 USD. For more info on H. Moser & Cie. click here.