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Watch Industry Insider Interview: Edouard Meylan, CEO of H. Moser & Cie.

Edouard Meylan

What has been the biggest change in the watch industry over the past ten years?

For us, digital has transformed everything. Not only can we create interesting dialogues and engagement with our collectors across social media, but there are all kinds of tools that mean we don’t need to invest in a big, bricks-and-mortar boutique. These days you can provide that brand experience and sell directly to your customers, which has been massive for us.

It’s one of the reasons independent brands like ours can exist. I remember talking to Richard Mille years ago about the difficulty of investing in those boutiques around the world and getting to know your customers; now it just takes a few guys behind screens and costs a fraction of what it used to.

What do you consider the golden age of watchmaking and why?

Gerald Genta Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Drawing Original Sketch

Gerald Genta’s original sketch of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.

We’re in the golden age of independent watchmaking right now! Before the modern era they simply didn’t exist. Even 20, 25 years ago it was the likes of Franck Muller, Richard Mille, Hautlence, Urwerk, MB&F, etc, it was hard for collectors to accept that level of watchmaking coming from smaller brands. Since Covid, things have exploded and it’s just the beginning.

There are more and more people that know independent watchmaking, that care about that kind of unique, creative brand, and demand is just increasing. There’s something about the combination of creativity, rarity and exceptionality that is has captured collectors’ imaginations. Prior to that, the 1970s was an amazing era of creativity. People like Genta really contributed to everything we know about watches today.

What is the biggest misconception about the watch industry?

H Moser and Cie Pioneer Perpetual Calendar 3800-0900

H. Moser & Cie. Pioneer Perpetual Calendar ref. 3800-0900

Probably around the label ‘Swiss Made’ and the lack of transparency there. That’s a big misconception from the end customers. It’s not something we work towards as an industry and we seem happy to let people misunderstand what it means. That might be slowly changing with smaller, newer brands bringing in things like traceability and transparency to what they do – which is largely customer- generated – but I’m always surprised to see how few collectors understand what ‘Swiss Made’ means and how brands can abuse the system.

If you could change one thing about the watch industry, what would it be?

H. Moser X MB&F Streamliner Pandamonium

H. Moser x MB&F Streamliner Pandamonium

The supply chain. It’s so complicated and in a way that’s the beauty of it, but there are always delays, there are always problems. When you run a small company like ours, you’re so dependent on external factors. After all, there’s people behind everything, everything’s handmade. We need to learn and become more efficient, but at the same time without losing that personal touch; it’s a difficult equation.

If I could ensure that people deliver on time with the right level of quality, it would be amazing – but then I guess everyone could do it and we’d be working in a completely different industry! Still, when I talk to my father about it and complain that something wasn’t delivered, he reminds me that it’s always been like that. Apparently we don’t learn.

What do you think the next big thing in the watch industry will be?

H Moser and Cie Endeavour Centre Seconds Genesis

H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Centre Seconds Genesis

It’s not just the watch industry but in general: AI. It’s going to fundamentally change the way we work, the way we create, how we plan, how we anticipate our customers’ needs. It will help on the production side, the consumer side, everything. Even things like translation are going to be massive for us. It means I can make one movie, one presentation explaining something and instantly everyone in the world can understand it. There’s so much potential that it’s going to completely change the industry.

How do you see technology impacting the watch industry in the next 10 years?

Again, AI will be important, but it will be a case of seeing just how it develops and trying to make the most of the new technology without losing the human touch. We don’t want to replace people with robots! The human approach is what saved the watch industry for many years, but I do think that if we use it wisely in planning, reducing waste, understanding what our clients want (without losing the element of surprise of course; we love to create the unexpected) then the next ten years will all be on the up. We just can’t let it kill creativity.

What style trends do you predict for the next few years?

H Moser and Cie Streamliner Tourbillon Wyoming Jade

H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Tourbillon Concept Wyoming Jade

I think we will go back to classic elegance and smaller sizes. I wouldn’t be surprised if things like yellow gold come back in a big way. It’s always cyclical and we’ve seen a lot of steel, a lot of integrated bracelets over the past few years – which will continue to be interesting and important for watches as a whole – but for me the big comeback will be gold in classic designs and smaller diameters.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.