Unless you’re really into watches, you’ve probably never heard of the brand, H. Moser & Cie. But Undefeated co-owner Eric Cheng, a keen watch enthusiast, had certainly heard of it. In fact, he counts himself as a Moser collector. So when Cheng reached out to Moser CEO Edouard Meylan for a collaboration, the partnership felt natural. Using Moser’s Streamliner as the base for the design, they came up with a new twist on the brand’s sport-inspired model.
There’s an obvious dichotomy between traditional heritage watch brands and streetwear brands. With the shift in watch culture over the past few years, we are seeing a younger demographic becoming interested in what, up until now, was essentially a very niche playing field. The bigger Swiss houses, although garnering more attention, still remain pretty conservative in design output. And with vintage trends dominating the market, we are seeing Daytona, Royal Oak, and Nautilus obsession to the point of saturation.
With smaller, independent brands such as H. Moser & Cie, there is room for a lot more creative flexibility—it can take risks. Meylan describes it as “Haute Couture versus Ready-to-Wear,” which is not only true in terms of creative parameters (or lack thereof), but also in terms of actual quantities produced. Moser produces on average 1,200 watches a year, a tiny figure when you consider Rolex is pushing out almost a million units annually.
With Undefeated working alongside a brand like Moser, they are bringing the independents into a wider social arena. It’s exciting to see a small brand which is mostly recognized by the enthusiast community becoming part of the wider conversation. “For several years now, streetwear players have been interested in watchmaking,” Meylan points out. “What is more recent and unprecedented is a luxury watch brand mixing its universe with that of streetwear.” Does this new marriage between the two signal the direction in which the watch industry is headed? Meylan is certain of one thing: “Independent watchmaking will never become mainstream, but people who are sensitive to street culture will become more and more interested in independent horology.”
The H. Moser & Cie. x Undefeated collaboration started with the “blank canvas base” of a Moser Streamliner, the brand’s take on the sport watch. It has an almost retro-looking curved case shape used to evoke the very first high-speed trains from the 1920s and ‘30s whose name it adopts. The watch features an anthracite gray DLC coating on its cushion case and integrated bracelet links. It’s almost like a richer Apple “Space Gray” (a comparison I am shamelessly making to drop in the Moser Swiss Alp watch).
The dial is engraved with a Black Tiger Camo motif, an Undefeated signature finished with Moser’s fumé effect. It features an integrated bracelet, which looks almost vertebrae-like and feels sort of reptilian to the touch. The Undefeated logo is placed at 12 o’clock, while the H. Moser & Cie. signature sits just below in a discreet light gray, a balance that feels synonymous with the ethos of both brands.
Cheng was keen to point out that this is a watch for true enthusiasts, not resellers. It’s a really hard thing to control, he reminds us. “We’ve seen it in sneakers and street culture for over 20 years,” he says. Limited to a number of 76, the allocation process for this watch isn’t going to be easy, and with the resale market having reached such crazy heights in the watch space, the plan is to meet with all 76 people who will eventually be allocated a watch.
With a pretty hefty price tag and a very small run, this collaboration clearly wasn’t made for your average consumer. But it does serve a more important purpose: it’s a porthole into the world of independent horology, something I'm sure both Moser and Undefeated hope will eventually infiltrate the wider watch sphere over time.
The Streamliner Chronograph UNDEFEATED will be available online from June 22 and in selected UNDEFEATED stores, as well as on the H. Moser & Cie. e-commerce platform. It is priced at $55,000.