Introducing the H. Moser & Cie x The Armoury Endeavour Small Seconds Total EclipseBy Suan Futt Yeo
Men’s clothing brand The Armoury was founded by Mark Cho and Alan See in Hong Kong in 2010, with the aim of bringing classic styling to the contemporary consumer. This involves promulgating the culture of dressing well, an appreciation for the dress sensibilities of a more elegant era, and a respect for quality and craft. Today the company has stores in Hong Kong and New York. Complementing its menswear and accessories, it also just snagged a perfect watch partner in H. Moser & Cie.
A meeting in 2019 in New York between Cho and H. Moser & Cie. CEO Edouard Meylan got a conversation started about men’s clothing and watches, and the result is the Endeavour Small Seconds Total Eclipse.
Two references (ref. 1327-1200 and ref. 1327-1201) are being offered, both in 38mm steel case; but the latter reference sports a red gold flange and hands. The inspiration for the design is the total solar eclipse: when sun, moon and earth are aligned with the moon totally blocking out the sun, it goes dark, and in the sky, the moon appears as a solid black disc framed by a crown of light – the corona of the sun, the outermost layer of the latter’s plasma atmosphere. To parallel this astronomical phenomena, both references sport a stark Vantablack dial. By absorbing 99.965% of the light that falls upon it, Vantablack is one of the darkest coatings achievable, all the better to represent a backlit moon. The polished flange around the dial, in steel or red gold as the choice may be, then provides a faithful representation of the solar corona.
To preserve the stark beauty of the dial, there is no lettering advertising the merits of the timepiece, and no windows cut for date and other displays. Instead, hour markers are holes drilled through the carbon nanostructures of the Vantablack dial to reveal the plate underneath. Central hours and minutes with subsidiary seconds is a traditional layout borrowed from the heyday of the pocket watch, and the thin Breguet hands are an additional classic touch that amp up the drama without stealing the show from this most measured yet fascinating ensemble.
Turning over the watch reveals the power reserve indicator, and a beautifully finished manual-wind HMC 327 movement. The hand-finish is borne of tradition; at the same time, the HMC 327 is also a thoroughly modern movement, featuring silicon componentry (anchor, escape wheel) that offer greater resilience against friction and magnetic fields, and optimised number of wheels in the movement construction to increase energy efficiency. On a full wind, the Endeavour Small Seconds Total Eclipse will stay powered for at least three days. It is also one of few manufactures to have its own in-house hairspring.
Both references are available in a limited edition of 28 pieces each, from The Armoury stores in New York and Hong Kong, as well as on the online sales platforms of both companies. Each watch features a black calf leather strap designed and created by The Armoury that combines two different textures of leather, and ships with a pocket handkerchief developed by The Armoury for H. Moser & Cie.
To achieve a clever and harmonious meld of classical and contemporary, The Armoury could hardly have picked a better partner than H. Moser & Cie. Even before the latter branched into more modern-styled watches like the Streamliner or its periodic ribbing of the watch industry with tongue-in-cheek creations, its classically styled timepieces have always been clever and cleverly engineered: escapements in a module that can be replaced as one would a cassette, reducing the number of wheels to conserve energy, reducing the range of screw and ruby sizes to streamline production; and perpetual calendars with the cleanest, most efficient and intuitive displays by having the dozen hour markers double as indications for the months of a year.
Where lapis lazuli is usually used to represent the night sky, going to the extreme of using Vantablack to represent the deepest shadow of space – well, the dark side of the moon in our face – is not so common. And as H. Moser & Cie’s perpetual calendars borrow the hour markers to show months, the Small Seconds Total Eclipse utilising the polished flange to depict a corona is the same kind of genius.
Movement: Manual-wind HMC 327, 18’000vph, in-house Straumann hairspring, minimum 3 days’ power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, power reserve indicator (movement side)
Case: 38mm by 9.9mm (thick), steel or steel with red gold inner bezel, sapphire crystal, Vantablack dial
Strap: Hand-stitched black calf leather strap
Price: USD 25,900 (limited edition of 28 pieces for steel and steel/red gold, respectively)