The austere codes of vintage design have succeeded in almost obliterating the original aesthetic and purpose of the chronograph in recent years. In the pursuit of “clean” dials, chrono subdials have been scaled to unreadable proportions with few markings and zero lumination. But H. Moser & Cie, the king of minimalism, has found a way to put the life – and readability – back into the chronograph while gently preserving the minimalist aesthetic. The Streamliner is a new collection being launched today, and the Flyback Chronograph its debut model. “Streamliner” refers to the high-speed trains of the 1920s and ’30s, according to H. Moser, but the Flyback Chrono also calls to mind the sexy curves and sleek aerodynamics of Italian sports cars.
The steel case is rigorously integrated with the bezel and bracelet, which is constructed of rows of single, horizontal wave-shaped links that are overlapped and articulated in a way that makes them resemble fish scales. It is polished in a vertical “scratched” brush finish that gives them a sense of movement and absorbs rather than reflects light. The bezel is finished in the same way, with scratchy lines that gently curve downward toward the case. The case side is highly sculpted in a complex design of alternately polished and brushed layers creating fluid lines that meander around the off-center crown and then curve again to merge flawlessly with the lines of the bracelet. It’s a design that manages to be sporty and elegant at the same time in a way that few other chronograph designs have managed to achieve in the past few years. A slightly domed sapphire crystal also gives it a sporty, vintage feel. All these elements put together form a package that seems like a winner at a time when steel sports watches are at the peak of demand.
Technically, the watch was inspired by 1960s track chronographs. The dial, in typical H. Moser style, is pared down to the essentials, hiding the watch’s technical merits behind a deceptively minimalist design. It has a no-nonsense central display, with seconds and minutes indexes sharing space on the main dial rather than in subdials. The outer edge of the dial is printed with jagged two-tiered index, with seconds on the outside and minutes on the inside. It serves four hands: two chronograph hands, one for the minutes and a red one for the seconds, as well as the two central time display hands for hours and minutes. The thicker hours and minutes hands are also differentiated by inserts containing Globolight, a ceramic-based material that contains Super-LumiNova. The material is a first in watchmaking. It has never before been used on hands. At 12 o’clock, the numeral 60 dominates the dial, a nod to stopwatches of the 1960s and ’70s, when legibility and functionality were everything. As Edouard Meylan, CEO of H. Moser & Cie., explains, “We started with the bracelet, and then designed this model around the chronograph function, as this was what we really wanted to highlight.” Mission accomplished.
The movement, caliber HMC 902 is new, and it is also a first. It is the first automatic chronograph with a central display and flyback function, and it was developed in partnership with the elite movement developer Agenhor exclusively for this watch. It includes two innovations. First, a mechanism that allows the elapsed minutes hand to jump instantly, which adds to the readability aspect of the watch. And it displaces the central rotor. The movement can be seen through the sapphire caseback in its entirety, despite the fact that it is automatic because the rotor, normally placed between the caseback and the movement, is situated between the movement and the dial. This means the full movement, including the column wheel mechanism are on full display without the distraction of a rotor rolling back and forth to block the view. The watch features H. Moser’s signature fumé dial in anthracite gray, with a “scratched” decoration that mirrors the finish on the case and bracelet. The 42.3mm steel watch is priced at £30,000.