Hands-On The Moser Heritage Tourbillon Skeleton, A One-Off Tribute To The Métiers d’Art

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of H. Moser’s concept watches, or its supposed affinity for fruity tech companies. This small independent watch company, based in Schaffhausen, may be comfortable with dials that display barely enough information to let you know what you’re looking at, and case shapes that parody the infamous Apple Watch, but everything it does is solidly grounded in traditional watchmaking. Case in point: the Heritage Tourbillon Skeleton.

h moser Heritage Tourbillon Skeleton

There’s nothing minimal about this Moser watch.

The Heritage Tourbillon Skeleton is a 46mm pocket watch–inspired timekeeper that owes much of its design to a 19th century model, signed by Heinrich Moser and recovered by the company during its new lease on life, some 150 years later. That discovery led to last year’s Heritage Tourbillon Skeleton, a similar wristwatch to our Tourbillon Skeleton but with a grand feu enamel dial and the company’s perpetual calendar movement. That watch received a nomination for this year’s GPHG in the Métiers d’Art category, partially for resurrecting an important relic of Swiss watchmaking and partially for expertly combining several artistic crafts in a single timepiece.

The Heinrich Moser pocket-watch that has inspired two Heritage wristwatches to date.

The Heinrich Moser pocket-watch that has inspired two Heritage wristwatches to date.

There are about as many ways to decorate a watch case or dial as there are specialized artisans, but the four staples of watchmaking, ever since people figured out that watches could be more than just functional, are engraving, gem-setting, enameling, and engine-turning. All four are used in the making of the Heritage Tourbillon Skeleton – most of them used for the covers of the double hunter-style case, which are engine-turned, filled with translucent purple enamel, and then baked to give the surface a nice even sheen. The 28 diamonds, which are assembled in a design echoing the original 19th-century pocket watch, are added afterwards. In fact, one artisan specializing in each of the four crafts worked on this watch and it took a total of approximately 60 hours to complete the case decoration.

h moser Heritage Tourbillon Skeleton case

There are 28 diamonds added to the purple enamel case.

h moser Heritage Tourbillon Skeleton movement

You can see the entire skeletonized movement under the blued hands due to the lack of a dial.

But it doesn’t end there. The decorative covers (front and back) hide a skeletonized movement with a one-minute tourbillon on the front and an engraved, open-worked rotor on the other. The amount of work that has gone into finishing the caliber is almost absurd. It doesn’t matter how much or how little experience you have with high-end watchmaking, this is very clearly an exceptional piece, both in terms of mechanical engineering and use of decorative arts.

h moser Heritage Tourbillon Skeleton case flank

Ever visible surface of this watch has some kind of over-the-top decoration on it.

While it still has a pocket watch–style case, this is in fact a wristwatch. It comes in at 46mm across with a thickness of 15.1mm – it’s wearable, but only just (though that’s clearly not the point here). That skeletonized movement inside is Moser’s own caliber HMC 803, which is a 34mm time-only movement with a one-minute tourbillon. That tourbillon is assembled and regulated as a single unit (balance, balance spring, escapement, and cage) before being placed in the watch; it uses the Straumann Double Hairspring. 

The movement is automatic and has a three-day power reserve; it’s an openworked version of caliber HMC 802, as seen in the Venturer Tourbillon Dual Time, which we covered in 2014.

h moser Heritage Tourbillon Skeleton HMC 803

The interchangeable tourbillon carriage assembly, seen above, as two outer balance spring studs (at 11:00 and 5:00) for the two balance springs, and the carriage is driven by gear teeth located on its outer edge.

h moser Heritage Tourbillon Skeleton winding rotor

Even from the back, you can see deep into the automatic caliber.

flinque enamel case h moser Heritage Tourbillon Skeleton

The translucent purple enamel is something you could stare at for hours.

The Heritage Tourbillon Skeleton is a piece unique creation, priced at $290,000. For some perspective, the Perpetual Calendar LE was available for 250,000 CHF and 10 pieces were made.  It’s worth noting that the Tourbillon Skeleton is actually delivered with a purple crocodile leather strap, and not the strap which was used for demonstration purposes when we handled the piece during SalonQP a few weeks ago.

For more information on the Heritage Tourbillon Skeleton, visit H-Moser.com.