With Georges-Henri Meylan at its helm, the Meylan family independently owns MELB holding, a group that houses watch brands H. Moser & Cie and Hautlence. Navigating the tough waters of the horological market today is challenging enough, but being independent watchmakers adds to it. However, the Meylan brothers remain confident of the ship they helm! The dynamic duo – Edouard Meylan, CEO, H. Moser & Cie, the flagship brand in the group and Bertrand Meylan, CEO of MELB Asia, driven by their passion for watches have surely brought about a fresh and dynamic touch to the traditional world of Swiss watchmaking. We caught up with the Meylan brothers on their various endeavours & challenges.
Brand performance – H. Moser & Cie and Hautlence?
For us, the performance of the brands in the market was very important. It is somewhat easier when you are small and there are a lot of markets that you have not penetrated as yet. With respect to the markets where we have been established historically, we see a lot of brand awareness and loyalty, and therefore a lot of sales. We especially see this with H. Moser & Cie.
What are the challenges you face as an independent watch brand?
The biggest challenge I would say is distribution. More specifically, getting the optimum space in the stores is certainly a challenge, in a context where we have multiple brands, many of them big brands, trying to fight each other to get space! In such scenarios, it does become challenging for smaller brands.
USP of brands like Hautlence or H. Moser & Cie…
Our history and where we come from is very appealing I think. The quality, finishing, innovation and creativity that we have been able to show offers value. Huge conglomerates are driven by marketing. But, our products tell a story. We have some really innovative products and the human energy present in all makes the feel of our watches very different.
After sales services…
We are present in major cities around the world. For instance, we have a presence in key cities in China and Hong Kong. We are in Tokyo, New York, Milan and of course, in Switzerland. We have trained watchmakers who look into the servicing.
H. Moser & Cie always has something unique, if not provocative! What’s there for this year?
The grass-covered Nature Watch that we presented during the SIHH 2019, was our take on ecological conservation. This was a unique piece, not for sale, and it really made a statement. There was a philosophical aspect behind it.
The Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon was also quite well received I think. There was a lot of painstaking work behind this exceptional simplicity. Here we have a twirling minute repeater with a flying tourbillon, highlighting the “ballet dance” performed by the complex mechanism to chime the hours. The purist look on a black lacquered dial stripped of both logo and indices- that’s really appealing I think.
We have been quite consistent in showing our support for the brand. Hautlence has always had innovative pieces. The HL NEWTON watch is a strong product. It is a product that is back to the core of the brand and has all the high-horological elements within!
Do you share a lot of movements between H. Moser & Cie and Hautlence?
Yes, we do. We use automatic movement from Moser as base movements for the complications developed by Hautlence. We have integrated the sales, marketing, finance and HR for the two brands. But the product development is independent.
Does the Brand Association with Eric Cantona continue…?
Yes. We try to bring new concepts and ideas and that will continue. He is a rebel personality!
Which is the best market for independents right now?
The word “independent” qualifies many companies and they are not really all at the same plane. For Moser, we have US, Europe and Middle-East. Hautlence is a bit different. Europe is a bit difficult here, but Asia is a good market for Hautlence.
Do you plan to incorporate more brands?
Not at the moment. There are many places where we are growing and there is much scope to work on what we have. So, we take one step at a time.
Being an independent, consolidating operations where necessary and yet retaining the intrinsic DNA of H. Moser & Cie and Hautlence, is a feat that the Meylan family has successfully accomplished! The future looks bright as both brands cruise along their journeys!
“Even if you’re small, you have a voice.”
– Edouard Meylan
Since its creation in 2004, HAUTLENCE has been a brand in a league of its own. It plays with design codes just as it does with its name – an anagram of the city of Neuchâtel in tribute to the cradle of watchmaking and to its expertise. HAUTLENCE is known and acknowledged for its original concepts in reading time. It adopts a think tank approach and brings a new vision to the art of watchmaking, while respecting its traditions.
With surprising and sometimes unprecedented ways of reading the time, a powerful and easily identifiable design inspired by architectural principles, as well as a majority of in-house made calibres developed and crafted in its own Atelier, HAUTLENCE has earned within less than a decade the recognition of its peers, the trust of the most prestigious retailers, the enthusiasm of the most knowledgeable journalists, and a top spot on the wish list of collectors worldwide.
H. MOSER & CIE.
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 annum. H. Moser & Cie. manufactures parts such as regulating organs and balance-springs, which are used for its own production as well as to supply its partner companies. With endeavours like making a watch out of Swiss cheese, a mechanical version of Apple’s smartwatch along with their famous fume dial watches, Moser & Cie has surely found its niche in a traditional watchmaking industry.