What is it like to be a true pioneer in your field, where there's no past experience to guide you? Inspired by the H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds, we got Michael Callahan, 28HKS founding bartender and bossman of soon-to-be-opened Barbary Coast and Deadfall, to do something he has never done before: scale the city's only natural rock-climbing wall.
In the crowded realm of classical three-hand watches, the H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds is an extremely rare find. But you may not realise this at first glance, because the magic of this elegant gentleman's watch lies in a profusion of special touches indicative of Swiss craftsmanship.

Run your fingers along the smooth curves of the case. Admire the beauty of the sunray finished fumé dial – that alone is an experience unlike any other. Inspect each and every facetted hour marker and those beautifully polished hands. Pore over the finely finished self-winding Calibre HMC 200, which is completely manufactured in-house.

See that balance spring and escapement? H. Moser & Cie is one of only a handful of watch companies equipped with the know-how to fabricate its own regulatory components. Yet the Pioneer Centre Seconds is not your average gent's watch.

It is better described as an all-terrain watch. The perfect point where dressy meets adventurous, as evinced by the following: deep water resistance, long power reserve, superb legibility and great ergonomics. It is a luxury watch created to be worn, and most importantly enjoyed, no matter where life takes you. Both work and play, indoors and outdoors, from day to night, and repeat.

In many ways, the Pioneer Centre Seconds reminded us of Michael Callahan, the charming founding bartender of 28HKS. He and his team at 28 are often credited for pioneering the city's cocktail movement and putting Singapore's bar scene on the world map by nabbing awards left, right, and centre. Since opening 28, the fitness-obsessed (he once challenged himself to achieve zero per cent body fat), style-conscious Callahan has opened almost 50 bars all over the world in the last seven years as a consultant. If all that doesn't embody boldness, refinement, grit and versatility, we don't know what does.
What was the vision for 28?
The thing with all great establishments is that it is greater than the sum of its parts. Our vision was to strive to be the best we could possibly be in all aspects of the business: the best spirits, the best cocktails, the best service, the best lighting, the best music. Our motto is to offer an honest pour for an honest price. We also wanted people to feel like they could be anywhere in the world while they're in 28 — be it Manhattan, Tokyo, Melbourne or even Auckland.

Do you feel like you've changed Singapore's bar scene?
We changed two things. One, the way the world looks at Singapore. 28 made it to World's 50 Best Bars list just six months after opening. Two, we changed the way Singaporeans looked at the (bartending) job. Back then, it wasn't something your family would have wanted you to do. It wasn't a viable path to success. But together as a community, we helped build, you know, some pride and some respect for the job. I always believe that the greatest legacy you can ever leave is the doors you open for others, so what I'm proudest of is how our bartenders have gone on to start their own bars and winning international competitions.

What does it take to be a pioneer?
Well, drive, really. Never give up. I have always been taught that a challenge is just temporary. You just have to push forward. What's your other option? Crying won't solve your problems. It's one foot in front of the other. You can't always worry about stepping on a nail, or falling into a crevasse. Because you will, and you have to get up, dust yourself off, and keep on moving.
How did 28HKS come about?
I was in San Francisco working on a project, and a friend of mine told me about an interesting posting for a bartender in Singapore. I wrote in and met Paul, one of the partners, in the city the following week. I got an offer very quickly, but they gave me only 24 hours to decide. I was like, 'I don't need 24 hours.' If you need to figure something too much, then you're probably not going to do it. I was in Singapore in two weeks.
"The greatest legacy you can ever leave is the doors you open for others."
Pioneer Centre Seconds Funky Blue Black Edition, by H. Moser & Cie.
What made you want to open a new bar?
I know I'm reaching the end of my trajectory for F&B. I will be leaving the industry soon; in fact, I left a couple years ago. I feel like I've accomplished as much as I... Not that as much as I could, but as much as I've ever wanted to. Life shouldn't be just about one journey, one chapter, and there's something else I really want to pursue next. But my partner, Celia, said: "Why don't you build one more bar? Why don't you take everything you've learned, all the lessons, and create what would be the ultimate expression of your journey in F&B? There are still lot of things people can learn from you. You shouldn't just close the book and walk away. You should build a repository for all of your knowledge, and let other people in. Open that door, one last door." So this bar will be my last.

Between style and comfort, where do you stand?
Style and comfort are equally important to me. Suits are a great example: you can look and feel fantastic in a well-tailored suit when it's built to conform to your body. On the other hand, you can buy a 100 percent cotton T-shirt off the shelf and it doesn't fit quite right. Comfort comes in different packages, but style is always a choice.

What were the hardest lessons you learned building 28?
We're a family, and — I think a lot of places don't do this — we wanted to help our staff members through their struggles. Some of them had issues with substances and we worked hard to help them get over their demons. We were able to provide a stable base here, so they weren't going out, partying, and getting into trouble. But we weren't able to save everyone and, at some point, you have to let them go.

I also had to learn to slow down, find work-life balance. I was married. That didn't last because I chose the industry over family. While we didn't break up during the 28 days, but the marriage suffered a lot during that time. I needed to learn that yes, my work family is important, but I have friends and family beyond that that are also important.

Pioneer Centre Seconds Funky Blue Black Edition, by H. Moser & Cie.
Text: Celine Yap
Interview and production coordinator: Crystal Lee
Director: Vanessa Caitlin
DOP, 1st AD, Sound & Editor: David Bay
Grooming: Fiona Bennett
Location: 28 HongKong Street
Special thanks to: Andy Su / Oyeyo Gym