Firstly, I should explain that I’m a scientist and an engineer. After spending 12 years at university studying 4 degrees in different subjects I graduated with a PhD in Numerical Analysis. Since then my work has involved solving engineering problems by meticulously gathering detailed information about the subject at hand, converting it into mathematical form, and analyzing it using powerful computers. Cars, planes, electronics, medical devices – I’ve worked on every sort of application you can imagine, and probably a few you can’t. But in non-technical matters I’m a grievous sufferer from the ‘Paradox of Choice’. Hand me a menu in an unfamiliar restaurant and I’ll have a panic attack, with steam coming out my ears like a cartoon robot faced with a conundrum. But at the same time I have a history of falling irrationally in love at first sight with colorful shiny machines – a primrose yellow Harley Davidson, a fire-engine red Ducati, another red Ducati, another red Ducati (repeated annually).
The Bug Bites
Growing up I regularly destroyed automatic watches due to my hobby of crashing bicycles and later motorcycles, so as soon as quartz watches became a thing I was there – Seikos, Casios, problem solved. But sometime in the mid-nineties I saw a strange watch in a shop window – a white-dial 2-tone TAG S/el Quartz Chronograph – and fell in love with a watch for the first time. More correctly, I loved the beautiful almost fluidly anthropomorphic classic ‘Link’ bracelet in yellow gold and polished steel, with a decent looking watch holding the two ends together. So I guess that’s when the bug bit me, but it had a very long incubation period. Over the years I bought a series of TAG watches for my wife, largely because it was the only watch brand I knew and they looked nice and were reasonably priced. But around 3 years ago I looked at my own TAG, by then 21 years of age, and realized it was looking a bit tired and probably deserved a well-earned retirement. So as is my habit I started researching watches and spent almost a year comparing models from all the well-known brands. Starting with a sensible requirement for a big-date to aid my aging eyes, I was almost on the point of buying a Tudor model but then by accident I came across a Ulysse Nardin Classico Dual Time with a stunning white grand feu enamel dial – a brand I’d never heard of till then.
At more than ten times the price of my old TAG it seemed almost inconceivable to spend that much money on a watch. But I had to have it, and thus it came to pass, I did. This was soon followed by an assortment of pieces from Omega, JLC, Panerai, Bulgari, and finally, a Patek – the disease had metastasized.
Helplessly in Love
I’m not sure when I first became aware of Moser watches – probably from Federico’s YouTube channel. But shortly after having met Tim Mosso at a Watchbox event I saw his review of the Endeavour Perpetual Moon Concept Aventurine.
Whilst the moonphase complication has always struck me as pretty pointless, the idea of a small mechanical object being calibrated to predict a natural phenomenon for more than a thousand years hence intrigued me – plus of course it was nice and shiny. After further online research, I realized I appreciated this company’s combination of originality, engineering excellence, style and most of all their irreverent sense of humour – the Swiss Icons watch, the Swiss Alps watch, the Vantablack Black – the list goes on. So, definitely something worth checking out.
Living in central Singapore I’m fortunate in that I can visit AD’s and boutiques from almost every watch brand within 30 minutes from leaving home, so one day in February I headed out to the Moser AD and wandered in. Making my way over to the Moser section I was immediately struck by the almost unnatural blue glow of two pieces in a display case. Initially, I was convinced it must be some kind of promotional display with a hidden light source behind the dial or a carefully aligned UV spotlamp. Asking to see one the salesperson handed it to me, still glowing, and thus ruling out the spotlamp theory. After staring into the light for a few seconds I turned it over expecting to see wires and a battery, but there was just a beautifully finished movement, with immaculate double-stripes and a big gold balance wheel spinning away lazily. It’s named, the Venturer Concept Small Seconds XL in Arctic Blue – my jaw dropped…
Unfortunately, when I learned the price my jaw dropped even further – this was in Patek territory – and how could I justify spending so much on a simple three hander? With no indices or markings of any kind on the dial it barely even qualifies as a timepiece! Sadly I walked away and tried to forget the experience, but over the next couple of months it seemed that Google and Chrono24 were conspiring to keep showing me pictures of it, or maybe it was my subconscious desire leading my fingers astray. Then amazingly a search notification told me there was a pre-owned piece here in Singapore at a very reasonable price and only 6 months old. As fate would have it though, Singapore had recently entered its lockdown period and all the watch stores were closed. I’ve always had a strict rule never to buy anything without seeing and trying on the actual piece, so I had to bide my time. But on the first weekend after the stores opened again I went to see it, and the following day it was mine.
The Review Bit
Now as I’ve intimated this is not a watch you purchase based on its specifications. I’m not a professional watch reviewer or even a barely competent photographer, so for anyone wanting to see a proper review and high-quality photos you should head over to aBlogtoWatch and check out the excellent review there by Bilal Khan. But here goes with what I can tell you after owning this watch for a couple of weeks.
Picking it up, the first thing you notice is that for a 43mm gold watch it’s remarkably light – likely due to the minimal bezel and deeply sculpted case flanks – there’s not an ounce of fat on this beast. The level of polish on the rose gold is not up to the mirror-like standard of my Calatrava, but there’s not a flat surface anywhere and looking head-on the visible area of gold is small and highly curved, so you don’t really notice any lack of clarity in reflections. And the mid-flank region where the watch may contact surfaces is a sensible brushed finish to avoid showing signs of wear. The case itself is a slender 8.8 mm thick, though with the gently domed sapphire crystal that rises to 12.6 mm at the centre. The lug width is 22mm and end to end it’s 48.3 mm.
The dial colour and quality is stunning, down to a microscopic level. I’m holding it now and it still doesn’t seem to be of this earth. At night I often glance into its case expecting to see it glowing still, but one thing it doesn’t have is any lume. The leaf style hands are elegant, and remarkably given the absence of markers you can still actually use them to tell the time. I’ve asked people to test me at random and worst case I’m a minute out. Turning the watch over one finds the power reserve indicator, and as promised the hand-wound HM 327 movement delivers 3 days of use with sub 5 seconds per day accuracy right up until it stops. I haven’t put it on a time-grapher, but that hardly seems the point with this watch. The large inverted cone crown affords easy winding and a clean transition to time setting mode, which is best accomplished on the hour when the seconds and minutes hands are conveniently aligned with an imaginary centre line passing through both pivots.
The light brown kudu suede strap with Moser trademark lime-green calf lining is supple and gives the watch a wonderfully casual feel. Its semi-distressed finish tends to pick up scuff marks easily, but these can soon be buffed out using a piece of white cotton cloth over a fingernail. The Moser signed buckle with polished pin and anglage is easy to use and suits the rest of the watch. As purchased the strap appeared scarcely worn, and it immediately moulded itself round my 7.25” wrist, with zero break-in. As someone who generally prefers the convenience of deployant clasps one of those might be on my shopping list in future, but for now I’m getting on fine with the original pin buckle.
Wearing the watch it feels light, comfortable and well planted. My wrist is broad and flat but with a pronounced bone, and larger watches tend to either fit me well or not at all. For example I can comfortably wear my 45mm Radiomir 1940 but not an equivalent Luminor. The Venturer is very comfortable and indeed the only problem right now is I tend to forget I’m wearing it and start working on household chores, when I shouldn’t be wearing any watch let alone a $25K piece of art. Given the current situation I haven’t worn it out much so far, but it’s certainly been a talking point at the various AD’s I’ve visited in the past couple of weeks, though with most struggling to identify it before being told.
Well, that’s about all I’ve got to report this far, so if you’ll excuse me I’m back off to the Moser store to look at a green one. I can see this is not going to end well for my life savings…
Model: Moser Venturer Concept Small Seconds XL – Arctic Blue
Case: Rose Gold, 43mm x 12.7mm, polished and brushed surfaces – sapphire crystal on both sides
Water Resistance: 30m
Dial: ‘Arctic blue’ fumé with sunburst pattern and rose gold leaf hands. Indices, branding and other markings – none whatsoever
Movement: Calibre HMC 327 18,000 vph hand-wound with 3-day power reserve. Hours, minutes and small seconds, with power reserve indicator on the movement side. Fully in-house made featuring a Straumann Hairspring with Breguet overcoil, ruby set escapement and gold balance wheel with hacking function.
Strap: Light brown/beige kudu suede leather with Moser signed rose gold pin buckle
Ref: 2327-0409 – 100 pieces limited edition.
David Byrne is based in Singapore, having lived in several countries around Asia over the past 30+ years. Though born in England and educated in Wales he pretends to be Irish or Scottish to avoid embarrassment. His interest in watches is entirely superficial and he just can’t resist a pretty dial.