H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Alps is back with another Apple Watch lookalike. The $350,000 Watch Concept Black is a ludicrous take on the classic minute repeater design. And on this version, the wearer can only tell the time by chiming the watch.
These sort of watches have a storied history that predate wristwatches by hundreds of years. Called minute repeaters they allow the wearer to hit a button, and the watch will respond with chimes indicating the time of the day. The movements were developed before artificial illumination made it possible for watchmakers to add glow-in-the-dark markings. But this is far from a working man’s watch. H. Moser worked with Manufactures Hautes Complications SA to develop the custom movement for this watch.
Flip the watch over, and the watch’s cost is explained in the custom movement. This minute repeater has a rectangular-shaped movement. It’s special. To chime two small hammers strike a gong that runs around the outline of the rectangle casing. Despite the odd shape, the watch is capable of producing a chime Hodinkee calls “crisp, clear, and resonant, with none of the dampening you’d expect from a heavy precious metal case.”
To set the time, the wear chimes the watch using the slide on the side of the casing. Then the wearer adjusts the time using markers on the crown. I like it. It’s a simple and clever way to set a watch without hands.
This watchmaker started using the Apple Watch’s design in 2016 and now has a range of timepieces that mimic the rounded square look in its Swiss Alp Watch line.
H. Moser is known for its concept watches. Don’t expect this watch to be in your local Tourneau. It’s a publicity stunt for H. Moser’s custom watch business that lets the ultra-rich develop one-off timepieces. As for this concept, I’m a fan. The watch demonstrates everything special about the watch industry right now. After years of getting beat up from the Apple Watch, it’s finding its grove in producing both beautiful and affordable mechanical watches and wonderful unattainable timepieces. To be justified, watches do not have to have apps; they just have to delight the wearer and this $350,000 watch does just that.