As the head of an independent watchmaking brand, what are the challenges of making your brand known?
The complexity is in getting access to distribution. That’s why we need partnerships with people who understand that it takes time to build the brand. Communication is difficult because we don’t have the same budget as bigger brands, so we need to be creative and take risks. That’s the advantage of being independent. When I want to do something crazy, I do it, and then I write an e-mail to the board and my father [Georges-Henri Meylan, co-owner of H. Moser and former CEO of Audemars Piguet] saying, “I’ve done this, I hope you agree with it because it’s done.”
H. Moser has a very strong design identity, so much so that you can remove your logo from your watch, and it’s still recognisable through features like the fume dial. Why did you choose to go in this direction?
Moser has always been understated and minimalist, so I wanted to show the beauty of our product through those beautiful dials and create one unique piece with nothing on it. When I showed it to my team, they said, nobody buys a watch without logos. I said, “Let’s try.” We made 10 [the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Concept, launched in 2015], and they sold out in a snap. Suddenly, everybody was asking for it. Since then, we have been doing them in small series, so they sell quickly. We’ll see the same watch two to four years later at Christie’s or Phillips [auctions], and it will have gone up in price. That’s the way you build your brand.
Your tagline is “Very Rare”, and your Vantablack dial watches embody this slogan. What is it like working with such rare materials?
The challenge is finding those rare materials because everybody is always looking for something new, so we needed to find one that matched our philosophy and designs. The opportunity we had with Vantablack [a black coating made of carbon nanotubes that is supposed to be one of the world’s blackest blacks] is that it’s so complicated to work with that when you start adding logos or indexes, you destroy it. So, it was perfect for us because we don’t have logos or indexes.
What are your goals for the brand?
Today, we need to continue to grow in order to be safer. We produce 1,500 watches. I want to grow to 3,000 watches while maintaining our current retail network, because it gives us more power to fight. Now, there are those who try to kick us out of the networks because the bigger groups in the multibrand stores want more visibility. It’s always easier to hit the smallest player, and that’s where the threat is for us. I think if we were to grow to about 3,000, we would be in a position to get our space and advance further.
(Related: H. Moser & Cie goes big on simplicity)