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Review: H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Mad Watch

Hands-on analytical review with high resolution live photographs.
by Frank Chuo on March 6, 2017
Review: H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Mad Watch

Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined that the most talked about watch from SIHH 2017 is a watch made of Swiss cheese. Well truth is indeed stranger than fiction, all thanks to Moser. The Schaffhausen-based manufacturer has indeed outdone itself this time with the one-of-a-kind (literally, it is a piece unique) Swiss Mad Watch. Here, we will bring you all the savoury details of the cheese watch, but first, a little background is in order.

As of 1st of January 2017, the Swiss Made label has been revised to now require 60% of the value of a watch (up from 50%) to be of Swiss origin. From the eyes of H. Moser & Cie., this is a clear insult as all of its watches are at least 95% Swiss by value. The brand feels that the label is too lax and prone to abuse. And for those reasons, they had elected to remove the Swiss Made label from all of their new watches from 2017 onwards, as a form of protest. Never one to shy away from the limelight, the brand decided that wasn’t enough and took their stance further by creating the most Swiss watch ever. Enter the 100% Swiss, Swiss Mad Watch.

The case, dial, hands

The case of Swiss Mad Watch is indeed made of cheese, specifically Vacherin Mont d’Or médaille d’or. But how? You certainly wouldn’t craft a case out of pure gold, and yet soft cheese? Well, much like combining gold with other metals to create an alloy, the cheese was combined with a special resin to form a composite material that could then be machined into a case and polished. To answer the two burning questions that are probably running through your mind now: Does it stink? No. Does it crumble? No. If anything, the case is really well-made – incredibly solid in spite of its cheese-like appearance and lightness. At a case diameter of 42 mm, the watch is contemporarily-sized but not overbearing in the slightest.

Does it stink? No. Does it crumble? No.

To match the case, Moser equips the Swiss Mad Watch with a red fumé dial that is as gorgeous as the resin-cheese case is outrageous. The dial goes from dark on the periphery to an intense red in the centre. We feel that this is the most stunning Moser dial yet and indeed, pictures don’t do it any justice. In stark contrast, the hands and double indices on the dial are as white as snow from the Swiss Alps. Together with the red dial, the white double indices at 12, 9, 6 and 3 o’clock form what is reminiscent of the Swiss flag – this was intentional of course. Overall, the dial manages to maintain Moser’s signature minimalist design while also being highly interesting.

The red fumé dial is one of the most beautiful we’ve seen from Moser. The contrast between the red dial and the white hands and indices is captivating.

Also worth mentioning is the unique strap that comes with the watch: a cowhide strap. Naturally, you won’t find any alligators floating around in the River Rhine. As such, it is only fitting that the strap be made from cow (perhaps from the same one that provided the milk for the cheese) to maintain the all-Swiss theme. We feel that the cowhide strap – a really furry one no less – and the cheese watch are a match made in heaven as they are both udderly ridiculous (and we say this with utmost compliments).

Do not let the furriness of the cowhide strap unnerve you – the watch wouldn’t be complete without it.

The movement

The Swiss Mad Watch is powered by the in-house designed and manufactured calibre HMC 327. The manually-wound movement has a minimum power reserve of 3 days, which is indicated by the power reserve display on the top plate. The balance wheel, which features the brand’s in-house Straumann® hairspring, beats away at a traditional 18,000 vph. The beat rate of the balance wheel isn’t the only thing that is traditional as the movement also features traditional finissage. The bridges in the calibre HMC 327 are decorated with the Moser “double striping” on the top surface while chamfered and hand-polished on the edges. The Moser coat of arms and brand name also adorn the bridges in the form of gold-filled engravings.

The calibre HMC 327 is sober compared to the outrageous cheese-resin case and eye-catching red fumé dial.

Concluding thoughts

The H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Mad Watch is priced at a symbolic CHF1,081,291 denoting the signing of the Swiss Federal Charter on August 1st, 1291. Last we heard, the watch was up for bidding and there were bids put forth by multiple parties. While the watch itself is a gimmick meant to attract publicity, the message behind it is fantastic. This is Moser defending what it means to be Swiss Made, a quality label that is present on fine watches and, quite regrettably, on inferior ones as well. According to the brand, all proceeds from the sale of the Swiss Mad Watch will be used to create a fund to support independent Swiss watchmaking suppliers. In our books, H. Moser & Cie. deserves a pat on the back, if not for producing watches that are almost wholly Swiss, then at least for leading the charge in support of Swiss watchmaking values.

Wrist-shot of the Swiss Mad Watch. We have a feeling the watch is going to serve as a great conversation starter for the eventual owner.

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