Luxury can’t be fun? Try us…

“Roger that”

Chapter Two
Heinrich, Man Behind the Myth

Interview with Roger Nicholas Balsiger - Honorary Chairman at H.Moser & Cie -

In Chapter Two we continue our discussion with Roger Balsiger– this time we cover great-grandpa Moser’s Industrial Era, a Dam good invention, and a certain ‘Outlaw State of Mind’…

We know what a respected watchmaker your great-grandfather Heinrich Moser was; by the mid-19th century, H. Moser & Cie. was already a hugely successful business. But in your opinion, what was the greatest invention of Heinrich’s lifetime?

If you look at it overall, I would say that as an entrepreneur and industrialist, his greatest invention was probably the water dam that he built from 1863 to 1866. The “Moser Dam”, as it was known, was the largest Swiss hydro-power station–it created mechanical power for the local factories, long before electricity was installed. Previously, Schaffhausen had been very poor, but the dam transformed the economy into a thriving and profitable one. It really got the local industry back on its feet.


How did it come about, this Watchmaker-turned-Engineer undertaking such an ambitious project?

It came about in a very unorthodox way. Heinrich held a plan for the structure in his safe for decades. But he always said “I will only pull it out if all other projects fail, otherwise people will think I am crazy!” In the end, all else did fail. And of course, during the years it took to construct the dam, he suffered a lot of setbacks– he even had to start over two or three times from scratch, but in the end it worked. It worked very well. 

And it stood the test of time?

Once the dam was up and running, from 1866, it lasted nearly a hundred years–all the way to 1959! So again, it’s a real sign of quality that it lasted for so long; in 1959, they only pulled it down because it was decided that they needed a more modern hydroelectric system. The Moser Dam had a huge impact for this area of Switzerland–I think it’s a remarkable legacy.

To have galvanised so many people to work on such a big enterprise, he must have been a rather charismatic person– what have you learned about his character from those who knew him personally?

He was certainly a very charismatic person. He was a strong leader, and could be quite adamant in some situations. He could also be rather blunt, even undiplomatic– but I suppose because he could afford to be. It seems he didn’t care much about laws: when he first started work on the turbine, they had to dig up a street every two weeks. To do that he would certainly have required permission, but his thinking was: “I don’t need permission–I am meeting people’s needs, I’m doing what’s right for them.” And so… he just went ahead and did it! He was an entrepreneur who ‘got the job done.

He sounds like a bit of an Outlaw (in a good way)?

Somehow, he never got into trouble with the law. Apparently it wasn’t a good idea to upset Mr. Moser! He could be a bit of a dictator, but a benevolent dictator– he did ask the people of Schaffhausen to vote on his plans. He held a vote for the dam, and I don’t think he would have built it without their vote. Which makes him quite democratic, and unusual from a 19th century perspective. Ultimately, whatever his defects, he was a great benefactor for the town– people respected that.

Next time, Mr Roger Nicholas tells us all about the social impact of his company on the small town of Schaffhausen… Stay tuned.

Latest posts

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.

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’.)

Chapter Three
Turning the Tide – Moser and the Revival of Schaffhausen

In Chapter Three, we discover the many contributions Heinrich made to his hometown of Schaffhausen.  From miniscule watchwork to revolutionary railways, there was no project too big or too small for Mr. Moser. Not even putting bread on the table. You can also catch up with Chapters One and Two here. 

Simon Blum

Simon maintains Moser’s impeccable standards–from the hundreds of individual, unique parts to the final finishing touches. Guardian of our watches’ inner lives, he’s a bit like a conductor, directing an orchestra of components and ensuring every single piece is beautiful both inside and out.

Magic Numbers – Our Big Date Display is a wonder to behold

Quite possibly the largest display from a single window ever seen on a watch, our signature Moser oversized date function ensures that you’ll never miss the dawning of Venus’ trine with a Jupiter-Pluto conjunction – whether that means taking out your NASA-style telescope and a star-mapping app, or making a bold romantic gesture to the object of your affections.

Dress Code: Black and White

Opposites attract in our new Venturer Concept Vantablack® Diamonds. As the saying goes, there’s no light without the dark – and when 313 brilliant diamonds encounter a dial that’s blacker than any on Earth, we’re inclined to agree. Meet the seductive, sparkling beauty that’s earning a name on every circuit – from the Ritz to the Riviera.

Drawing the future: two unique timepieces created by children, benefitting children

To celebrate our ongoing partnership with the remarkable organisation ‘Room to Read’, we’ve created two unique and enchanting timepieces. But they’re not just artistic gems – these watches will play an important role in our continued support for literacy projects around the world, championing education as a force for good.

Community Spirit: Moser-Lovers report from the Pioneer Tour

Moser & Cie. sent a newborn Pioneer Centre Seconds Funky Blue Black Edition out on an odyssey around the world, leaving the destinations– and wrists–unknown! Catch all the highlights from its latest locations.

Jonas Köppel

Our Head of Escapement Jonas Köppel is far from an Escape Artist– in fact, he can often be found tinkering at home after hours. This time-tamer ensures our watches don’t run wild, and is H.Moser & Cie’’s answer to a cardiologist– caring diligently for the ‘hearts’ of our watches.

Hot Dates

For the very first time, our Perpetual Calendar is dating – and we couldn’t be more proud. We’ve updated the latest member of the Pioneer Family with an easily-legible dual window date display– to keep all pioneers, adventurers, and heroes at the ready, whatever mission they’re on. Never keep a lady (or gentleman) waiting…

Moser’s Heart Has a Tale to Tell

For the curious, the adventurous, the maverick or the genius– Moser Maths stories take you behind the curtain into the heart of H.Moser’s magic.