When it comes to watches, there is one country that stands above every other. Switzerland has an august history of making beautiful, finely crafted watches that take trained artisans many many hours to construct. Odds are, your favorite watch brand is Swiss. Rolex, Omega, Patek Philippe, IWC, Cartier, and Breitling are all based in Switzerland.
That is why the arrival of the Apple Watch and other smartwatches presented somewhat of a national identity crisis for Swiss watchmakers. But one brand refuses to sit idly by as the Cupertino behemoth encroaches on its turf.
Heinrich Moser incorporated his watch company in 1828 in Russia and relocated H. Moser to Switzerland the following year to ensure superior quality. With its most recent creation, the Swiss Alp Watch, the company is firmly planting its flag in defense of that watchmaking tradition and taking a not-so-subtle jab at Apple.
A statement from H. Moser about the new watch says, “Faced with the threat of these heavyweights, there are a number of ways a Swiss watch company could react. They could do nothing, the course most watch brands are adopting; they could take a short-term, opportunistic approach to combine tradition with technology, or, lastly, they could fight for the values underpinning the reputation of several centuries of Swiss watchmaking. This last path is the one that H. Moser & Cie. has decided to pursue, and the Swiss Alp Watch is the symbol of this fighting spirit.”
The Swiss Alp Watch features the familiar rounded rectangular case of the Apple Watch, but instead of powering the watch with microchips, the Alp is entirely mechanical. The movement is Swiss made and the distinctive gradient on the dial is something that H. Moser is known for. The brand is not shy about the other differences between its creation and the Apple Watch.
The company’s CEO Edouard Meylan says, “The Swiss Alp Watch does not allow you to make calls, or send messages to share the latest gossip; it does not give you the option to send beautiful sketches you have created on a two-inch screen or to share your heart rate. It does much more than that: it lets you reconnect to what matters in life. Most importantly, it is something you can pass on to your children one day without having to upgrade it!”
Them’s fighting words and H. Moser even made an Apple-esque video—complete with lost of white space, voiceovers and slow-mo product shots—to make its case.
Only 50 pieces will be made (the Apple Store in NYC’s Meatpacking District probably sells that many by lunch) at a cost of $24,900, compared with the $15,000 that a rose gold Apple Watch will set you back.
It will be interesting to see how Apple reacts. Tying up H. Moser in endless lawsuits would be no big deal for Apple. Still, it’s nice to see a David, even a high-end luxury David, stand up to Goliath.