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Independent Watchmaking - May 27, 2020

Moser Pioneer Perpetual Calendar Fumé

We had read a lot this review about Moser for some time now, yet in hindsight, taking additional time to digest the Moser Pioneer Perpetual Calendar is a good thing for several reasons. Most importantly, it’s a matter of not letting the sparkle and sheen of its visual characteristics distract from a thoughtful evaluation. Moser watches have that effect on people—the vivid color of their fumé dials is a hallmark of the brand—and 9 times out of 10 a conversation about Moser is either about their dials or about their cheeky marketing strategy. We’re always taught not to judge a book by its cover, and while a watch purchase can (and often is) driven primarily by aesthetics, it’s best for all involved to dig just a little deeper.

Moser Pioneer Perpetual Calendar Fumé

Never the last, this is not the brand’s first perpetual calendar, however, from a design and function standpoint I would argue it’s their best effort to date. Previous perpetual models have included the Endeavour —a perpetual calendar only showing the date (not the month) as well as a tiny hand for its leap year indication. There has also been a prior version of Pioneer Perpetual, though not one with this boxed dual disc display. This new Pioneer cleans things up quite a bit with its two step-boxed openings for the date and month, and a power reserve indication on the opposite side at 9 o’clock, balancing out the dial layout. The dial configurations on perpetual calendars can be an oddly contentious topic, as I’ve learned over the years, but at a personal level I far prefer this clear legibility over the smaller pointer subdials seen in more classical offerings. With a modified dial, the layout comes a new caliber—the HMC 808 hand-wound movement, which Moser produces themselves in their facilities in Schaffhausen. Of its key developments, its power reserve of 7 days (via a twin mainspring barrel setup), and the function of its perpetual calendar is most noteworthy. Unlike many perpetual calendar calibers on the market, the HMC 808 in the Moser Pioneer Perpetual can be advanced or retarded without risk of damage. This ‘Flash Calendar’ function, as Moser calls it, allows the date to be set in either direction at any time of day without risk of damaging its movement. It’s worth noting that Moser relies on machine finishing, rather than hand finishing, but as you can see in the images above and below, it’s quite a handsome movement regardless of this fact.

H. Moser Cie Pioneer Perpetual Calendar

At the end of the day, do I like it? Yes, I do. Is there anything I would change? I’d love to see better AR on its crystal, as photographing this thing was a real treat for my somewhat amateur level. Would I buy it? At $39,900 in steel, it’s not an inexpensive buy, but I’d at least put it on my shortlist. I lean towards indie brands, to begin with, and when the time comes for a perpetual calendar I would have my heart set on something casual that I could wear regularly, which would put me between this and maybe the Journe Octa Perpetual, however, the latter is more expensive and unavailable in steel. Some will argue that there should be some hand finishing to this caliber at this price point, but this is a trade-off that comes with the fact that the brand is actually producing so much of their movements, as well as the level of detail found in their cases and dials. At apples-to-apples build cost, would I rather have a much more plain looking watch from outsourced parts if I got a hand-finished movement out of the deal? Probably not.