Why would someone make a watch out of cheese?
Food for thought
I love cheese. With very few exceptions, I love all kinds of cheese. From the day my eyes met a pizza commercial on TV (I think it was Milano's), I've hankered after its ooey gooeyness and after the first time I tasted its rich, briny tanginess, it's become a special kind of dope to me. There's just something about the salty-melty-creamy-stinky-yumminess that elevates me to that state of euphoria known as cheese heaven, know what I'm saying?
But my appetite for cheese has its limits, as I've recently discovered. It appears that not everything that has cheese in it would warm my heart and satisfy my soul – not even if it's my favourite cheese in the whole wide world, the prized Vacheron Mont d'Or (or Haut-Doubs if it comes from the French side of the Alps). And for a million bucks a pop.
I'm referring to the H. Moser Swiss Mad Watch. No, there's no typo. Swiss Mad is correct, not Swiss Made. But that is not to say the watch is not Swiss made. It is! Very much so, and in fact, its utter Swissness – or should I say udder Swissness – is the giant, great big message behind this watch. In a bid to make, in the words of CEO Edouard Meylan, the most Swiss (Swissest?) watch ever created, H. Moser went and made a watch out of... cheese.
First of all, no, this is not a hoax. Well, the watch is kind of a joke (I'll explain in a bit), but the news is totally legit. In January this year, H Moser made the piece unique watch and priced it at 1,081,291. In which currency? Pffft... Do you even have to ask? Swiss francs of course, and the jaw-dropping price tag is yet another wry reference to Switzerland; it is the country's founding date, 1st August 1291.
Secondly, if you were wondering, the watch does not need refrigeration and neither does it stink, so it's not an "in case of emergency craving, break glass" kind of situation.
This is not a hoax. Well, the watch is kind of a joke (I'll explain in a bit), but the news is totally legit.
To produce its 42mm case, H. Moser combined real Swiss cheese with a composite material known as ITR2 (Innovative Technique Resin Revolutionary) to create a stabilised polymer, which is then machined and polished to the usual H. Moser standards (read: very high). Think of it as a kind of petrified cheese. And if you asked, Meylan would very proudly tell you the source of the cheese, which by the way is a Vacherin Mont d'Or, and it comes from his very own hometown – talk about in-house manufacturing!
From a distance, the watch doesn't look half bad. But up close, all those blobs and striations on the case make themselves seen and are frankly not easy to love. It's not the same as the markings on mother-of-pearl, which is delicate and nuanced and beautiful. And did I mention that dappled cowhide strap? That's my year's quota of kitsch right there.
The only saving grace, aesthetically, is its red fumé dial where the four white doubled indexes are only subtly reminiscent of the Swiss flag. For those who don't already know, fumé dials are a H. Moser signature and indeed the company does them well. Conspicuously omitted are the words 'Swiss Made', which brings me to the whole point of the watch.
MADE IN SWITZERLAND?
H. Moser remains one of the very few watch companies that hold true to the Swiss made label; about 95 per cent of every H. Moser watch is proudly Swiss made. So when the Swiss government recently updated the regulations on this term, decreeing that only watches with 60 per cent Swiss origin may qualify for this label, up from 50 per cent previously, the company was incensed. But wait, that means the law has become stricter, so why was it all bent out of shape?
Turns out, the new rules also allow R&D costs to come under that 60 per cent, opening it up to potential misuse by some companies to inflate R&D costs, have their watches manufactured outside of Switzerland, which everyone knows means China, and still qualify for Swiss Made. In protest, H. Moser made the decision to stop using the label altogether, stating that the new ruling "renders the label meaningless".
Belligerent? Yes. Facetious? Not really. In 2009, another Swiss company also wanted nothing to do with another prestigious industry label because of general misuse and poor regulation. That company was Patek Philippe and the label was the Geneva Seal.
From the company that spoofed the Apple Watch with an anti-smartwatch called the Swiss Alp Watch, another key issue in modern watchmaking has been raised with this peculiar timepiece: What does it mean to be Swiss made? Admittedly, I'm not overly concerned about how many per cent Swiss my watch is (I'm not sure how many people are) but wilful misrepresentation is an entirely different thing, and I think H. Moser definitely has a point – I just don't think that cheese has any business whatsoever in watchmaking... such a waste of perfectly good Mont d'Or.
Whoever buys the H. Moser Swiss Mad Watch, you're literally on your own there. I'm not sure how many likes you'll get for it on Instagram but do remember to hashtag #makeswissmadegreatagain – what's the point otherwise, right? Oh, and if some asks, "Is that the latest Apple Watch?" you've earned the right to deadpan, "No, it's the new Cheese Watch."
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to sit back and wait for someone to make a watch out of chocolate.