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H. Moser & Cie. - In Defence Of Staring

H. Moser & Cie. In Defence Of Staring

The New H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack irresistibly draws the eye...

In any polite society, it’s considered improper to stare. Staring is associated with a deficiency of social skills, an attribute of children (who we reprove for rude behaviour), out-of-touch dreamers (like stargazers) or the terminally self-involved (“omphaloskepsis” is the fancy Greek word for navel-gazing). Don’t stare at people, we’re taught from our earliest days. Don’t stare at the sun. Stop staring at yourself in the mirror. This sort of social and cultural conditioning can be hard to break, though sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. But don’t judge us too hastily!


In Defence Of Staring

Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack © H. Moser & Co.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, presenting exhibit number one: The H. Moser & Cie Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack. 

Anyone who’s ever held in their hand a creation from the Neuhausen fine-watchmaking brand will have experienced how difficult it can be to tear your eyes away from something so fundamentally attractive to the senses. The Vantablack watches take this to the next level, since their nano-engineered dials absorb 99.965% of all incident light, confounding our perceptions and intriguing us in a way that no other watch does. I guess it’s appropriate that a material that captures nearly all the light that touches it should also capture our attention. The total and uniform blackness of Vantablack is particularly desirable in the area of astrophysics, in which the material has most of its commercial applications — coating the insides of telescopes, for example, and improving the quality of the images obtained. 

You could say that Vantablack is a visual simulacrum of a black hole, the astronomical phenomenon with such a powerful gravity field that not even light can escape it. Physicists postulate that black holes hold the key to some of the most elusive mysteries of our universe, which would go a long way towards supporting our profound fascination with something that is essentially a dark blob millions of light years away from us. Recent astronomical advances have allowed scientists to give us our very first glimpse of an actual black hole, surrounded by an enormous halo of energy that appears in photographs as a glow of orange-gold solar hues. In my mind I’ve already nicknamed the rose-gold Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack the “Black Hole Sun”, inspired by the chart-topping song by seminal 1990s band Soundgarden.

Against this context of cosmic energy and ravenous gravity, we have the tourbillon — a notoriously energy-hungry horological mechanism designed to counter the effects of gravity on the regulating organ of a watch. (I’m slowly building the argument that the H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack is one of the most conceptually perfect watches ever created, because I need something, anything, to explain why I can’t stop staring at it.)

In Defence Of Staring

Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack © H. Moser & Cie.

Gazing into unfathomable depths tends to bring out the philosopher in all of us, and the Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack reminds me of something once said by one of the leading thinkers of the 19th century: Friedrich Nietzsche.

The thing is, I was never really a fan of Nietzsche, except when I was a young and angsty student at university. He doesn’t seem to have been very much fun to be around, which is pretty much par for the course in his profession — cheerful philosophers are kind of like the H. Moser & Cie. tagline (i.e., “Very Rare”). Every single existing photograph of Nietzsche features him wearing a ludicrously large moustache whose entire raison d’être appears to be to conceal his mouth behind an enigmatic keratinous shroud of obscurity; ironic, since his utterances are presumably aimed at bringing understanding and clarity to our existence. 

Almost everything he says sounds portentous and ominous, like it should be prefaced and followed by thunderclaps and lightning bolts. “If you gaze into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you” — one of Nietzsche’s top ten greatest hits. Listen, pal, if that abyss happens to be the H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack “Black Hole Sun”, I will gaze into it anytime I want, for as long as I like. And I will be popping the champagne and rolling out the red carpet in welcome, if it decides to gaze back. 



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H. Moser & Cie. was created by Heinrich Moser in 1828. Based in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, it currently employs around 60 people, has developed 14 in-house calibres to date, and produces more than 1,500 watches per year.

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