Don’t visit H. Moser & Cie’s website unless you’re ready to live a little. And when following the homepage’s cues to the “Pioneer Chronicles,” don’t expect to be greeted by a super posh sales employee via live chat, or a drama series-esque video on how important family is in the watch industry.
Instead, prepare to be welcomed by a small disclaimer on your screen that reads: “The luxury industry doesn’t tend to go in for humour. We, however, do. If you like beautiful things and you’ve remained a lucid human being, first of all, congratulations. Second of all, welcome home.”
H. Moser & Cie, accompanied by its “very rare” slogan, hasn’t abandoned the traditional values of quality craftsmanship, materials, and design—they are, however, throwing daggers at the age-old tradition of taking a serious tone with their marketing campaigns.
“When we took over H. Moser & Cie. in 2012, we wanted to refresh the brand, to modernize it,” H. Moser & Cie CEO Edouard Meylan tells Luxury Society. “With our very limited marketing budget, we couldn't compete with the big groups so we had to find another way to communicate. Our management team is young and has quite a sense of humour. During one of our meetings, we started to discuss the topic of smart watches and we ended by saying that H. Moser has been creating smart watches since its foundation, in 1828.”
It was then that the idea of wordplay between smartwatches and connected watches vs. smart, complex and mechanical 100 percent Swiss made watches first came to light.
“We then launched our Swiss Alp Watch in 2016. The success was immediate and we created the buzz. As a result, this disruptive, provocative and sometimes humorous communication became naturally our language,” Meylan says.
It’s a bold move in an advertising sphere that’s been primarily dominated by grandeur, sex appeal and edginess.
“We realized that many people, not only from the new generation, were tired of the traditional luxury communication using always the same topics in a very traditional way,” Meylan explains. “After the first few campaigns, we saw ‘Moser fans’ emerging and we wanted to further strengthen our bond to them. An important point is that we do not have professional influencers: the Moser fans are our influencers and the best ones.”
To strengthen its relationship with the watch community, H. Moser and Cie launched the Pioneer Chronicles website, a dedicated portal where the company and watch fans express their vision and opinions.
“This community, emerging from all over the world, is made up of a larger audience, young and open-minded, less traditionalist, and with a certain sense of humour. Through these chronicles, and also thanks to an increasingly strong presence on social networks, we maintain a close dialogue with our fans and customers. Above all, it allows us to exchange around the same affinities in order to increase this spirit of community,” Meylan says.
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This spirit-- a spirit of lightness, approachability, and community (while still maintaining exclusivity) is an integral part of the redefined brand. While brands like Gucci have toyed around with the concept of humour on a far smaller scale, the intersection of humour and luxury is still very much an untapped market. H. Moser & Cie’s approach to brand DNA has us all wondering: Does it work?
“It has been very successful. We have tripled sales in five years. Our existing customers have followed us and stay faithful to the brand. They recognise the brand and know that we have kept what makes H. Moser & Cie. very rare and exclusive. And we have gained a lot of new customers, amongst new generations. Which for us means future. Many people need and want to identify themselves and the fact that Moser is very engaged and opinionated creates an attraction and a bound to the brand,” Meylan adds.
H. Moser & Cie believes that disruption, provocation, and humour will remain a signature part of the brand, and that they will continue going in the same direction for the future. As for the brand’s well-documented occasional jabs at other industry leaders, well that’s all part of the fun.
“No one said that making Swiss Made great again would be easy... Sometimes, messages can be misunderstood. It is part of the game with disruptive communication. This will not stop us,” says Meylan.