Richard S. Cunanan

The Roots of Mother Russia

H. Moser & Cie and their deep cultural roots.

Russia has been in the news a lot lately, but here is some news from Russia that is much, much older. H. Moser & Cie are going back to their origins, releasing a watch that hearkens back to the land from whence they came.

You know you’re a part of a place when they have folk songs about you. There’s an old Russian song whose lyrics go:

Don’t trust anybody,
Then your household will not lose:
Thirty meters of crepe-de-chine,
Powder, crème, eau-de-Cologne,
Two cans of kerosene,
A Leningrad-made gramophone,
A semi-shawl of pure wool,
A watch made by the firm “Moser”

The song reads like kind of a “These are a few of my favorite things” variation, albeit with kind of a dark beginning. But it’s that last line we want to talk about. The lyrics seem to list a few of the things that make up a happy household, including “a watch made by the firm ‘Moser.’” That’s a pretty strong endorsement. But then, H. Moser & Cie’s ties to the Russian homeland go way back.

Heinrich Moser founded his company in Saint Petersburg in 1828. Moser sold his watches in his own stores in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod and Kiev, and also via a network of independent retailers within the Russian Empire and along the Silk Road. He supplied both the Imperial Court and the Russian army.

H. Moser & Cie. became a synonym for quality and elegance. Their reputation was so esteemed that “Moser” actually became the generic Russian term for a high-quality timepiece. That name became a part of Russia’s heritage, and it was mentioned in the popular songs of the time like the one above, and in texts by poets and writers, including Dostoevsky, perhaps the most famous Russian writer of all time.

Indeed, the new H. Moser & Cie watch, the Venturer XL Stoletniy Krasniy (Centennial Red) is a timepiece made in commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the famous October Revolution. The watch’s deep red comes from that iconic Russian color. (In the film “The Hunt For Red October” the titular submarine Red October, or Krasny Oktobyr, was also named after that same turning point in history.)

Red has always been the signature color for Soviet Russia. It has deep significance within the culture, and even the language: “krasniy” or Red, has the same roots as the word “krasiviy” which means beauty.

Now, with the release of the limited edition 17-piece Venturer XL Stoletniy Krasniy Centennial Red, the house of H. Moser & Cie is returning to the land where it first came to be. This limited edition steel-case self-winding watch has a green NATO strap but a dial of deep fumé red. It bears witness to a pivotal moment in history, and it carries the colors proudly. Another son of Russia is coming home.