WATCHESPEDIA: How important is the SIHH for H. MOSER & CIE.?

EDOUARD MEYLAN: I expect my answer is the same as the other Maisons: it is a key event! I think the SIHH is the opening event of the year. It is a fantastic platform, and it is managed by an extremely well-run team. This is the second year we have exhibited at the SIHH, and there is so much professionalism. We have access to international media in a well-structured and managed format. You know that when you meet people there, it will be the right people. Sometimes in Basel, you can spend an hour talking to people, and ultimately, they are just trying to sell an ad. I am of course aware of the importance of advertising, but we have to set priorities and fairs are really dedicated to customers and press. When you have meeting after meeting, it can be very tiring, and I think at SIHH we can really make the most of this presence. We have press conferences that give us access to many people that we could not reach out to otherwise. This gives us both a legitimacy and credibility that we benefit from.

WATCHESPEDIA:  Following your latest viral video, “H. Moser & Cie. – The Swiss Mad Watch”, we heard that you reached over half a million views on YouTube in a few days.

Our question is, how has the industry responded to your video?

EDOUARD MEYLAN: My peers from the Carré des Horlogers have been very positive. I believe that they agree about the way we are doing this. Some have already removed the Swiss Made label from their watches, but they did not communicate this change the same way. I think the bigger brands did not want to react, or they could not react, but they are aware of this issue with the Swiss Made label, especially at the SIHH, so I don’t believe they have anything to feel threatened about.

Regarding the FHH, Fabienne Lupo, who organizes the SIHH, was very pleased. She said to me, “Congratulations! It is really in line with what we believe. We are fully behind you.” This was important for me, because we are not questioning the value of Swiss made watches. We are asking for more transparency.  I also wrote to all the CEOs exhibiting at the SIHH to explain what we were doing and to invite them to join our campaign. It is important that we bring more transparency to the Swiss Made label. Obviously, we are below the radar of the big Maisons in our efforts, but the reaction was very, very positive from within the industry.

I also wrote to the FH (Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry) to explain that we are not criticizing the Swiss Made label. We value what they have been doing, and we know they wanted the threshold to be much higher [than the 60% Swiss value needed to qualify as a Swiss Made product]. This is in line with our direction and what we wish to communicate.  We have the same goal: promoting and defending traditional watchmaking.

There was some mention of our criticism of the Swiss Made label, but this is not the case. I invited the FH to discuss it, and we have a meeting at SIHH on the subject. The Swiss Made label is vital for Swiss industry in general, and even more important for high-end brands.

Today, the other issue is that there is no control for the Swiss Made content. There should be. Moreover, I think there should be another label, for high-end brands that are comfortable providing absolute transparency. What we are implementing is not just for fun. We are making a strong statement: we stand 100% behind 100% Swiss watches, even providing a 100% Swiss certificate for every one of our watches starting in 2017.

It is our approach to follow through our entire process on this topic. Some said, “Oh, you are doing this again just to create a buzz.” This is not the case. Every year, we aim to take up a big topic, talking about it in our own language, with movies, humour or even satire, because that is the way we want to communicate. It helps us have fun as well.

WATCHESPEDIA: Tell us more about the H. MOSER & CIE. brand personality.

EDOUARD MEYLAN: Well, we are Swiss, independent and family-owned. This gives us more flexibility and freedom to take risks. Two weeks ago, the movie was coming together, and it made me realize: am I going to show that to our chairman? Do I want to be the clown of the SIHH? [Laughs] But on showing it to my brother and my parents, I realized this provocative approach was good. My father used to work for a big brand, but he is free-minded, and he has always been direct and transparent. He said, “You have to do it. I think it is important that you stand behind it if you believe in it.” A few days later, we released the film. However, I did not sleep the night before. It was the same with the Swiss Mad watch made of cheese. There was a risk. I was expecting more criticism. Many people in the media loved it and understood it. I believe we said something that many people thought, but few were willing to come out and express.

This only confirmed our decision to remove the Swiss Made label from all of our watches from 2017 onwards. We have been working on the subject for 18 months. We prepared the field starting with the Concept Series two years ago which were already going in that direction: no indexes, no logo and no Swiss Made label on the dial, and which already represented a risk. We have customers coming from all over the world, and they can turn around and ask if these watches are Swiss. It does not say Swiss Made on it. We have to explain to some of our retailers how we are going to support them and make it an even stronger argument to sell our watches. We did take a risk with this.

WATCHESPEDIA: What are your current outlooks for the next five years?

EDOUARD MEYLAN: We had a great year in 2016. I think our positioning has been excellent. Our average price went up. All markets grew, with the exception of Europe, and other markets compensated for this. We had double-digit growth last year, and we are planning for 25% growth in this year. January started very well. I think Europe is coming back and will be more stable, but it is still very fragile. So, I do not know what will happen in the next five years. I would love to produce 1,200 watches this year. My objective is eventually 2,000 or 3,000 watches by 2022. With a clear, continuous increase like this, you can invest in marketing, development, and persist even with pressure in the market.

WATCHESPEDIA: How has digital media and social networks influenced your business?

EDOUARD MEYLAN: Tremendously. Without it, we would be far behind where we are today. I believe we are ahead of many brands in comparison, but we also are compelled to use Facebook, Instagram and WeChat. This was a problem that became an opportunity, and it was one of the first activities we focused on. I think bigger brands are trying to catch up but many have not mastered these tools. Some do, like AP or Richard Mille, and they invest much more than we do, but many brands are far behind, and that is good for us.

WATCHESPEDIA: If you have a message for yourself now, what would you say to yourself in 50 years?

EDOUARD MEYLAN: In 50 years!

I do not know what I will be doing in 50 years, so I am not sure. In 50 years, I will be 90. I hope I am still alive and I am involved in the industry for 50 more years. I hope that I can look back and be proud of what has been achieved. I hope this is a project I can hand over to the next generation! I also hope that I will continue to support my children the way my father is supporting us today. I have young children, and I would like it if they think, “Your watches are the most beautiful, Daddy. Thank you!” [Laughs] I hope I can continue to feel the same way about my work 50 years from now. I also expect that the next generation will be taking care of things by then.

WATCHESPEDIA: What is a typical day at work for you?

EDOUARD MEYLAN: I wake up quite early. I try to see my children before leaving for work because the office is 45 minutes away from home. I try to have breakfast together with them around 6:30 am. I never used to, but I think now it is an important, if brief, time that we can share together. Then I drive to work, and I call my brother who is in Hong Kong. He manages the subsidiary there. When I arrive at the Manufacture, I try to say "hi" to most of the team, as we are 55 people. Then I have meetings one after the other. I try to find time for creative thinking. In the evening, I call my agent in the US on the way home. It lets me stay in touch with the various markets on a daily basis.