“It was creating huge losses and almost went bankrupt,” he tells Yachts. “Moser was too common and too under the radar. The watches were white gold with silver dials and centre seconds. It was too similar to Patek. Why would you buy a Moser if it looks like a Patek? We needed uniqueness and turned it around.”
Bold decisions on design slowly began to pay off and now Moser timepieces are seen as an attractive investment for collectors.
“We like to provoke,” says Meylan. “It’s very important to try things and become different. There is no limit or restriction on how far we should go. For brands like Moser, the only thing that can kill you is not going far enough. But it must be constructive, we have to be careful to not fall into gimmicks. I don’t want to create something that doesn’t have a meaning.”
Moser produce 1,500 watches per year and brand cohesion is of high priority for Meylan. “I want things to fit together,” he says. “The collections make sense now. I see so many watch brands in Mall of the Emirates or Dubai Mall and I ask myself: why is there a jewellery piece next to a diving watch next to a classic round enamel dial? How does that make it one brand?”
Meylan was born in Switzerland’s watchmaking heartland of Vallée de Joux and both his parents worked in the industry, his father a well-known figure who ran Audemars Piguet for many years. “I’ve loved watches since I was a kid,” says Meylan. Home to the major brands, Moser – based in Schaffhausen – remains proudly independent among the big boys.
“I don’t even think the big brands know we exist,” he says with a chuckle. “We need them as much as they need us, we’re part of an ecosystem. We’re here to push the boundaries and the bigger brands follow… but they don’t want to admit that.”
He continues, “Moser gets a lot of spotlight considering our revenue, and perhaps that frustrates the bigger brands who have a much bigger revenue but don’t get as much limelight as we do. It’s a very ego-driven industry. What business can you do a few million in revenue and be on the cover of a magazine? It’s goes to your head quite quickly.”
Later this year, Moser will return to Dubai Watch Week. “It’s a must,” says Meylan. “We’ve been there every year and it’s helped us to grow. It’s funny, in the first year everyone asked: who is Moser? Now people know us.”
The company has enjoyed huge growth in the last few years but beyond 2021, Meylan is in no hurry. “We know how hard it is to get here, we want to continue to build slowly, there’s no rush. We need to find those 1,500 people every year who are proud and excited to have a Moser on their wrist. I can tell you, five years ago finding those people was hard, today it’s much easier. The marketing world has changed a lot to our benefit, it levelled the field. Before, every ad cost so much and we didn’t have that budget. Today if you time your launches correctly and are creative, you can stand out. We don’t need to be Rolex, there’s only one Rolex.”