Once again they manage to surprise us, from ironic rectangular horology to a hypnotising collaboration with MB&F, to this, where Moser enter the ring for the strongly contested Integrated Steel Sports Watch Bracelet contest. Yes, I tried it on – and did not want to take it off – the H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Centre Seconds.
OK, the competition in this category is tough, but so is this smooth nugget. The case and bracelet is familiar from the GPHG-winning Streamliner Flyback Chronograph, but this time Moser sticks to their speciality, which is a beguiling time-only fumé dial. Except for a certain Italian angular svelte creation, nothing beats this for being different, and refreshingly free of inspiration from the top grails. The inspiration is here, but from the age of streamlined trains and cars of the ’30s with their smooth, honed speed-centric shapes.
A case and bracelet, both setting new standards
When you slip it on, the feeling is that of smooth comfort, or a flexible cuff-like piece of jewellery, not a watch with a bracelet. In its 40mm case this is an experience of one-ness, immensely refreshing in a time of homage and re-editions, and Genta derivatives ad nauseam. I actually have no words to describe the slim 11.8mm thick case other then cushion-esque. However, the non-technical term is delectable.
It feels perfectly normal to immediately take the watch off again, on again, and off, and lose myself in the details. There is no bezel to speak of, but an ultra smooth edge just slightly higher than the sapphire crystal, dramatically sloping towards the case edge, with the entire top section radially brushed. The slim side profile is made tauter through an inset brushed section, delicately sandwiched between curved polished slightly bevelled edges.
The bracelet echoes the slightly concave profile, with intricately shaped polished sections between each solid link. The brushwork is subdued but prominent, and the edges have a polished bevel accentuating one of the best bracelet integrations of the decade. I love the fact that the source of inspiration is the age of streamlining, as any fan of industrial design of the previous century (now I feel old …) will appreciate. The aerodynamic sense of speed and agility is palpable, only to fade slightly into the background when you slip it back on, marvel at the smoothness and look at that green void.
Unlike the tough-looking sports visage of the Flyback Chronograph, the Streamliner Centre Seconds gives us a healthy dose of fumé, an H. Moser speciality that’s always welcome. A dial finish only 10 years ago associated with the browns and oranges of the ’70s, has now become almost ubiquitous, but wildly varying in expression and quality. This is a deep forest green sunray, its darkened edges perfectly measured to coincide with the castellated minute track intersected by slim indices.
H. Moser & Cie. does exquisite minimalism like no one else, and I can only imagine the number of greens were on the design table before this dark void became the choice. The classicism of the flowing script in the logo perfectly counteracts the sharp design, while the main surprise is in the hands. As introduced in the Pioneer series, the chunks of lume on the delicate baton hands is a solid material called Globolight, ceramic-based and including Super-LumiNova, fresh white and super legible. As befits the pure minimalist aesthetic, the green gloss is sans a date window, and the seconds hand is a sharp, polished needle.
Turn the Streamliner around and you’ll be met by a movement, mostly – and frustratingly – hidden. It is beautiful nonetheless. The HMC200 calibre offers visible perlage on the recessed edges, and Côtes de Genève on the mainplate, with only the balance wheel, sharp anglage present, peeking out to titillate your senses. The 72-hour movement is 100 per cent in-house, with the escapement being produced by a sister company of H. Moser, Precision Engineering.
A rose gold rotor frames what is a traditionally finished calibre, as always one of the high points of a Moser, no matter how ironic, traditional or, in this case, retro-futuristic the watch is. The armadillo-micro-tank-like braceleted Streamliner does sit within a niche of its own, and being more refreshing for it. Rarely have I come across such design integrity while also ticking that comfort box. With a big tick indeed.
H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Centre Seconds price and availability:
The H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Centre Seconds is $21,900 US, and is available from authorised Moser dealers.