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

Jonas Köppel

“I wanted to hold these amazing watches in my own hands…”

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.

Chapter One
Enter the Entrepreneurs

In 2002, Roger Nicholas Balsiger received an unexpected phone call. Would he like to be involved, the caller asked, in a secret project of biblical ambition…

Let the Pioneer Tour begin!

The Pioneer Tour is off and running– as of today, the Pioneer Centre Seconds Funky Blue Black Edition has been placed in the hands of our first watch guardian. Oaths have been sworn, and the Pioneer is fastened securely to its very first wrist, off to destinations unknown– where will our revamped Pioneer end up?

Funky Blues From the Jazz Age: Past meets future in the latest Heritage Tourbillon

You could be forgiven for thinking the ‘Heritage Tourbillon Funky Blue’ was a 1920’s Jazz Club on NYC’s underground scene. In a sense, you wouldn’t be that far off. Because this Heritage Tourbillon is nothing if not a convocation of artistic genius, rich history, improvisation, avant-garde vision–a hybrid of classic and contemporary beauty.

The Perpetual Calendar

We are introducing Moser Maths, a tour through the complexities and ‘complications’ of our watches for both amateurs and collectors alike. Our stories will bring you a selection of unparalleled technological features that make us ‘very rare ’– a manufacture like no other.

Best of Both Worlds : The origin of our Swiss Alp Watch

A watch should measure time, not consume it. Our Swiss Alp Watch may be a nod to the highly popular ‘Smartwatch’ trend–but unlike those digital timepieces, this rare beauty won’t take more than it gives. Let us explain…

Chapter Six: The End of an Era

The ‘Moser dam’ makes history, and Henri gets a bit carried away with the celebrations. Heinrich Moser suffers a loss, but sees new love through a lucky pair of spectacles. Two new Mosers arrive on the scene, just before the end of an era…

Tour de Force

We recently introduced our Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon to the world, but like any Superhero, this Marvel has a backstory. Now, we’re taking off the cape and opening up the complex heart of our technical wonder–from a collaboration with the wizards at MHC to the workings of a subtly balanced soundbox, this is insider information at its best. So get your geek on, and be ready to impress those ‘in the know’.

Chapter Five: Captain of Industry

In true Pioneer spirit, Papa Moser expands into new territory, and writes the Moser name into the history books. Henri (reluctantly) admits that his dad was sort of impressive.