H. Moser (Finally) Introduces a Smaller Pioneer in Two Flavors of Arctic Blue Fumé

You know what’s satisfying? When a watch brand does the thing that just about everyone wants them to do, after a period of time where it seemed like they definitely were not going to do that very thing. Listening to customers and delivering what they want is a hallmark of the microbrand scene, and, at least to some extent, independent watchmaking as a whole. But it needs to be balanced – you can’t just turn out every request that comes in, lest a brand lose their identity in the process. So what H. Moser has done here with a pair of new watches in the Pioneer collection feels quite special, like they’ve heard the voice of the community and reacted in a particularly Moser way. 

When I reviewed the Moser Pioneer “Mega Cool” I commented that the immediate impression of the case, in terms of its size, was not a positive one. The 43mm Pioneer case in stainless steel is heavy and kind of clunky, with proportions that seem designed to make it recognizable from across a room rather than contour to the wrist. In principle, I don’t have a problem with that approach – there’s nothing wrong with a watch being brash and bold just for the sake of it. But even as I gradually got used to the size of the Pioneer during my time with it, the case’s oversized aesthetic was just never to my taste. Kind of a shame, because I absolutely love the dial, and the idea of an elevated, luxury sports watch in this style holds a lot of appeal for me. 

This week, Moser has gone a long way toward addressing the quibbles that I and many others in the watch community had with that original Pioneer case by releasing a pair of new Pioneers with a 40mm diameter. The case lines and unique features of the original case (those molded cutouts on the caseband with an intricate ridged pattern inside) are still here, but in a footprint that should be quite a bit more wearable. The case height here is only 12mm, and that’s with the sapphire crystal, which still has a pronounced dome shape. For comparison, the 43mm case has a thickness of roughly 14mm, crystal included, so this new case represents a tightening in all dimensions. Crucially, the 40mm Pioneer is still 120 meters water resistant, making it the most outwardly sporty Moser in the collection. 

To launch the Pioneer in 40mm, Moser is introducing two references simultaneously, both with their signature “Arctic Blue” fumé dial. The first is the Pioneer Center Seconds, what we could consider the base model Pioneer, with the automatic HMC 200 caliber inside with three days of power reserve. Unlike Moser’s dressier models, the Pioneer Center Seconds distinguishes itself by having indices at each hour, for easier at-a-glance time telling, which is appropriate for a watch on the sporty side. The other reference, the Pioneer Tourbillon, sits at the higher end of the spectrum, and is powered by Moser’s HMC 804 automatic movement with a flying tourbillon at 6:00. This is the same movement, by the way, in Moser’s excellent Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack that I reviewed a few months ago, but in a very different context here. A nice touch with both of these Arctic Blue dials is that Moser has hidden their wordmark near 12:00 in a transparent lacquer, which gives the sunburst pattern and fumé effect a chance to speak for itself with minimal distractions. 

While we don’t have any official word from Moser on the subject, it’s easy enough to speculate that these 40mm Pioneers are not simply one-offs, but rather the first of their kind. The 43mm Pioneer has had a dizzying number of variants released over the years, in a wide range of colors, and it would certainly track for Moser to take a similar approach with the 40mm version, particularly if the community responds to it in a positive way. The early indication from chatter on social media is that the smaller Pioneer is a hit, which is no surprise given the pent up demand for a more compact version of what should be the brand’s easiest to wear watch. 

The retail price on the Pioneer Center Seconds is CHF 12,900, with the Pioneer Tourbillon coming in at CHF 49,900. More information on Moser’s website here.

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.