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A Guide to Gilding the Lily

What’s the equation for improving on perfection? If you’ve joined us before on Pioneer Chronicles, you’ll know that we don’t just produce our own movements – unlike most watch brands, we also make our own escapements and hairsprings.  (It’s been said we’re ‘very rare’.)

Because these creations are so vital, we’d hate to leave the calculations to just anyone… after all, as Heinrich himself once said, ‘to make the best watches in the world, you’ve got to have the best suppliers.’  

Eternal Return

Ok, it’s not quite Nietzsche’s theory of universal expansion and contraction – but it’s close! The hairspring (that spirally thing coiling and uncoiling in the balance wheel) is quite literally at the heart of a mechanical watch movement. Finer than a human hair, the hairspring attaches to the balance wheel and controls its motion by expanding and contracting – limiting its rotation, before returning it to the start.  And repeating the process in the opposite direction again and again… around 200 million times a year, in fact.

Precious Metal

While size, shape, and mounting position make up the balance’s frequency, it’s the qualities of the hairspring’s composition that determine its performance and – along with a few other factors – the long term accuracy of a watch.  And even though there have been recent developments in spring construction – composite materials and non-metal hairsprings (think silicon) – over the last few years, at H. Moser & Cie. we don’t think they cut the mustard. For instance, they don’t allow watchmakers to make adjustments, and can’t be produced by traditional watchmaking methods.  Which really is the name of the game when it comes to a Moser. 

Protected Class

 Rule number one? Your material must be impervious to damage from the elements. That’s Ground Zero.  And it may seem like a given, considering the various types of metal, alloy and composite used today in watchmaking – but it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Whatever material is used for the hairspring has to be resistant to oxidation and corrosion, because any change in the chemical properties of a hairspring would have a negative (unacceptable!) impact on precision.  

Unshockable

 No wobbles allowed.  We’re looking for ‘invariable elasticity’ in our materials.  That means no changes in response to its environment. With any metal component that has to contract and expand several times per second, elasticity and malleability are essential – to prevent what’s known as ‘metal fatigue’ over time. But when it comes to hairsprings, we have to take that basic elasticity up a notch. It can’t be affected by any changes in temperature, ambient pressure, or any sort of shock – as this would distort the material and make its performance inconsistent. Translation? Inaccurate watch!

Para-Magneto

It’s not just those geniuses beetling away at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider that have to be concerned about the effects of (epic-scale) magnetism on their watches… not to mention wormholes and rips in space-time.  And it’s not only Magneto who has invisible superpowers! Magnets are all around us, often undetectable to the naked eye. From hi-fi speakers, to your tablet’s fancy folding leather cover, or even airport metal detectors – magnets are everywhere.  And while smaller, weaker ones may not affect a hairspring, the larger ones most certainly do! Luckily, there are new metal alloys which have ‘paramagnetic’ properties – meaning that they are protected from magnetic fields. At H. Moser & Cie., we (along with sister-company Precision Engineering AG) have developed our very own paramagnetic hairspring with a unique combination of metals

The Philosopher’s Stone (A.K.A. Isochronism)

Alright, this isn’t some precious jewel that can turn back time or magic water into wine.  But it is a Holy Grail of sorts – the watch-word of every great watch-maker. Without dwelling too much on the physics, let’s try and explain the ins n’ outs of Isochronism (which literally translates as ‘equal-in-time’). As a watch’s mainspring barrel winds down, the torque and the amplitude of the escapement decrease.  In other words? Everything slows down a bit. And while true Isochronism is more to do with the way the energy is transmitted between the ‘organs’ than their actual form, a modern hairspring still needs to have the right shape and properties to provide an isochronous performance – no matter where you’re at in the movement’s power reserve. Simply put, it must keep things balanced, coordinated, and ‘on-time’ no matter what.   

Latest posts

Back to Vantablack®

We’ve created three new editions that’ll take you into another dimension – with a mysterious glamour to give even the most refined of aesthetes pause for thought.

Raphael Frauenfelder

Expert engineer, true artist, mad scientist, 21st century alchemist… you decide what title fits Raphael Frauenfelder best. We just call him our Head of Watchmaking, for want of a better term. Charmingly modest, he’d never tell you what a fantastic leader or inventor he is… but we will. 

When Fumé Says It All

In 2020, we’re giving Moser-lovers around the globe the gift of Simplicity in three new Concept pieces – with a flair for fumé.

A New Era in H. Moser & Cie. History: Meet the Streamliner

Marking the start of a new era in the H. Moser & Cie. story, the Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic is an unprecedented reimagining of the Stainless Steel Chronograph. Redefining the traditions of design, movement, and composition, the debut timepiece in H. Moser & Cie.’s latest collection unites our trademark codes of minimalism and contemporary elegance.

The dawn of a new era

Time at its purest. 
Coming January 9 2020… and it’s rewriting the rules of watchmaking. Expect the unexpected when meeting the Streamliner.

Chapter Five
The Meaning of Luxury – Very Rare, Now and Beyond

In Chapter Five, we talked to Mr. Balsiger about Moser’s unique identity– and his predictions for the future. From the meaning of luxury, to what makes Moser ‘very rare’, and a particularly fateful meeting with a Stranger on a Train. You can also catch up with Chapter One through Four here. 

Martina Egy

Meet Martina Egy– with her famously dexterous fingers all but permanently attached to a pair of specialised tweezers, our deputy head of watchmaking is a perpetual calendar whizz, and a real artist of engineering. Her quiet exterior belies an inner passion– much like the impeccable watches she creates. 

Vantablack® Beauty: Meet the Endeavour Tourbillon Concept Vantablack®.

If you’re a true Moser Pioneer (aka you’ve been following Pioneer Chronicles for a while), you’re probably familiar with the modern miracle that is Vantablack®. But our latest creation, a Concept design that’s minimal enough to be mistaken for modern art yet ambitious enough for an astronaut, is flying to new heights. 

Chapter Four
Keeping the Legacy Alive – Moser in the World of Watchmaking Today

In Chapter Four, we discuss what a time-travelling Heinrich would make of Moser’s revival, and the world of Swiss watchmaking today. Mr. Balsiger explains why Social Responsibility is a watch-word both behind the scenes and on the public stage at Moser. And why a timepiece covered in moss is making headlines. You can also catch up with Chapters One to Three here. 

Stephan Christ

One of only 60 Spring-Masters in the world, you might imagine Stephan Christ would be somewhat ‘tightly-wound’. In fact, his impressive patience is the stuff of legend. Stephan takes precision to the next level, tuning the details of the details and minutiae so fine you’d think his fingers were made by fairies. But don’t be fooled–mention ‘dust’ and you’ll see a sterner side of Mr. Christ.