Swiss Alp Watch Concept Black: Look Ma, no hands
In what could be the most minimalist watch yet, H. Moser & Cie has come up with the Swiss Alp Watch Concept Black, which not only lacks numerals or markings, but doesn't have any hands either. The blank black dial only shows a flying tourbillon at six o'clock and the time is told by way of tiny chimes and gongs for the hours, quarter hours, and minutes.
At first glance, the Swiss Alp Watch Concept Black looks like a joke – albeit a very elegant one. Dress watches are noted for their minimalism, since their main function is one of fashion and status signaling, much like the executive's briefcase that's so thin that it can barely hold a sheet of paper. But the Concept Black takes what looks like a step too far.
A dress watch isn't expected to be functional. In the interests of aesthetics, numerals and marks are often done away with, seconds hands removed as a gauche concession to real life, and the hour and minute hands reduced to mere gold or platinum slivers. If you try, you can just about tell the time, but don't count on getting to within more than a couple of minutes.
The Concept Black, on the other hand, doesn't have hands. It doesn't even have a logo. Instead, it only shows off a tourbillon because who is going to put one in a watch unless it can be seen? If you want to tell the time, you press a stud on the side and a repeater mechanism sounds a pair of tiny chimes and a pair rectangular gongs in increments of hours, quarter hours, and minutes.
Repeater watches have been around for centuries and were originally made in the days before reliable artificial light so people could tell the time in the dark. It's a very practical function, but one that is incredibly complicated and difficult to produce – especially when it has to fit inside a shaped caliber in a 45.8 x 39.8 mm platinum case. As to setting the time, this is done by way of engraved marks on the crown that allow the wearer to adjust the time to within five minutes.
According to H. Moser & Cie, the hand-wound HMC 901 caliber was developed with the help of MHC Manufactures Hautes Complications SA, who are experts in the making of repeaters. Aside from the tiny chimes and gongs, the caliber also boasts a resonance chamber to amplify the sounds and provide purer tones. The workings of the movement are visible through the sapphire crystal on the reverse.
The Swiss Alp Watch Concept Black is going for US$350,000.
Source: H Moser & Cie