Hands On: the H. Moser Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack

Honestly, I don’t really know how to evaluate a watch like this. The H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack is unlike any watch I’ve taken in for review to this point. Yes, it’s by far the most valuable watch anyone has entrusted to me. But even beyond the absolutely terrifying financial implications, it has more than its fair share of design quirks that set it apart from other Mosers, and most other watches. What I realized after a few days of (carefully) wearing this Streamliner is that its mouthful of a name, while not exactly rolling off the tongue, is essential in highlighting the critical mass of bonkers watchmaking happening here. 

The Streamliner concept was introduced in 2019 and in short order has become an H. Moser signature. If it’s not their most sought after piece, it certainly seems to be their hardest to get based on secondary market trends, with gray market prices easily exceeding the MSRP. It’s no wonder the Streamliner, whether in time only, chronograph, or perpetual calendar form, is such a tough ticket: it’s Moser’s sportiest watch by a wide margin, and – I don’t know if you’ve heard – sports watches are still really popular. 


You’ll forgive me, though, if I didn’t exactly have a list of activities planned for this particular Streamliner to put it through its paces. No, my own Out of Office will come later, and it probably won’t involve a watch made from a precious metal. The Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack (let’s call it the STV from here on out) was on my wrist throughout a few days of fairly uneventful working from home, followed by a crisp fall weekend in New Hampshire that included a delicious barbeque outing (shout out to KC’s Rib Shack in Manchester – not just “good for NH” barbeque, but actually just “good”). Then I was off to NYC to work out of the Worn & Wound offices, and to return the STV. Just as quickly as it entered my life, it was gone. 

It’s difficult to get a sense of a watch in a short period of time, but it’s not impossible. It helps when the watch is a little ludicrous – it aids in making an impression. The STV is ludicrous in at least four absolutely delightful ways, but I was a little surprised by how each of these attributes impacted me over the period of time I spent with the watch. Since this is a very different type of watch, both for me and for Worn & Wound to get a crack at, I figure now is a good time to take a different approach to a typical review. Without any further delay, here are the Top 4 Most Interesting Things about the Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack. 

#4. The Tourbillon 

I don’t want to sound completely nonplussed by something as objectively special as a tourbillon. It’s a credit to the STV’s strengths that the always spinning tourbillon carriage at the bottom of the dial is the least interesting about it. It’s perhaps the thing that most directly contributes to the STV’s six figure price tag, but I know for sure I’d have liked the watch even more if it just weren’t there at all (or, better yet, visible only through the back). 

A tourbillon, as most who are reading this are likely aware, is a somewhat antiquated watchmaking trick that’s meant to counteract the effects of gravity on a watch movement. An invention of Abraham Louis Breguet (ever heard of him?), a tourbillon wraps the escapement and balance wheel inside of a rotating cage, with the intention of canceling out differences in beat rate that naturally occur when a watch movement is poised in different positions. The thinking behind a tourbillon is basically that a movement will be at its most accurate when these positions are averaged together. 

Abraham Breguet, inventor of the tourbillon

If you think about the pocket watches that Breguet was making in the 18th century, you can see why a tourbillon has some appeal. A pocket watch is meant to sit in a pocket all day (probably a waistcoat pocket, close to the body), and thus doesn’t really move around all that much. A tourbillon in a pocket watch is potentially quite functional as it effectively simulates the movement being in every possible position throughout its runtime, negating any errors inherent with the position the watch is placed in and stays at throughout the day. 

A wristwatch is obviously a very different thing altogether. Unless you are quite literally trying to stay perfectly still during your waking hours, the movement in the watch worn on your wrist is going to see an enormous variety of positions over the course of the time it’s being worn. Some would argue that because of this, a tourbillon in a wristwatch is somewhat counterintuitive. But that’s not the reason tourbillons exist in 2022. Tourbillons exist in our current watchmaking climate as the ultimate watchmaking flex. They’re difficult and expensive to produce, and they’re incredibly dynamic. Even someone who isn’t well versed in the technical aspects of watchmaking can look at a tourbillon and understand that there’s something incredibly complicated happening here. That’s why, with only a handful of notable exceptions, modern tourbillons tend to be exposed on the dial side. 

And the tourbillon on the STV is very nice indeed, at least to my eyes, which admittedly haven’t seen an inordinate amount of tourbillons in their day. It certainly adds a level of drama to the dial, but (spoiler alert, I guess) the key strength of the STV is actually something closer to stillness. In any case, yes, this watch has a tourbillon, and even if its primary function in the watch movement itself is somewhat outdated, it certainly accomplishes the goal of reminding you that you’re wearing something rare, expensive, and mechanically ingenious. 

#3. Gold 

I want to take a second to reflect a bit on the year I’ve had in the world of watch reviews. This watch, the Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack, is the second gold watch I’ve had the sheer luck of reviewing this year. The first, you may remember, was the Zenith Chronomaster Open in rose gold, which I had a chance to evaluate for a few days earlier this past summer. Having people reach out to me asking if I’d like to borrow a gold watch for a few days is never going to seem normal, but I’m probably always going to jump at the chance. Why? Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself this year in the name of personal growth, it’s this: I really like gold watches. 

Now, I can’t afford a gold watch at the moment. I mean, I suppose if I sold all my watches, my most collectible records, traded in my car for some kind of scooter, and committed to living off a steady diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on store-brand white bread for the time being, I could maybe swing the type of gold watch that would be really appealing to me (I won’t describe that quite yet for fear of spoiling a future column). But man, I am ready to admit that I am fully drawn to precious metals, and find myself in the strange position of wondering aloud when I might splurge and actually for real pull the trigger on a gold watch, and start the aforementioned fire sale. Getting a chance to spend some time with gold watches this year in the context of these reviews, and also at Watches & Wonders and a host of meetups and events in 2022 has hardened my stance. I’m a gold guy, in theory, if not in practice. 

And if you like gold, the STV is loaded with it. It’s 5N red gold used in the case and bracelet, which is traditionally an alloy made up of 75% gold and 25% copper. Moser isn’t saying exactly what’s in their alloy, but the copper color really shines through, if you’ll pardon the pun. It’s a beautiful tone and is undeniably impressive in its weight when held in the hand and of course when actually worn. 

It’s worth pointing out that this watch is not subtle. That’s largely (but not entirely) because of all the gold. When I say that I aspire to own a gold watch someday, I have to admit that something on the level of the STV is not what I have in mind. I’d go for something thinner, dressier, and more traditional. Wearing this watch around town for a few days, I was well aware of the fact that I did not blend into my surroundings. Gold is inherently blingy, but you can definitely find watches made of the stuff that are a level or two more understated than something like the STV. Obviously, nobody who buys this watch is going for subtlety or understatement, but there certainly are people who live a lifestyle where this watch doesn’t feel so out of place. Wearing it, I was well aware that I was absolutely not one of those people, but it was admittedly fun to pretend for a few days. 

#2. The Streamliner case and bracelet

We’ve had a few of these pass through the office at this point, and as integrated bracelet sports watches go, the Streamliner platform is at the top of the heap for me, personally. At a time when seemingly every brand is trying to get their foot in the integrated bracelet sports watch door, only Moser is doing it in a wholly original way. With just about every other entry into the genre over the past few years, you could easily critique it as being just a bit too much like the Royal Oak or Nautilus. But the Streamliner, particularly with its fantastic bracelet, offers something genuinely different aesthetically. 


This Streamliner case measures 40mm in diameter and has a lugless design and is vaguely cushion shaped. It’s roughly octagonal, but the lines are soft enough and extend gracefully through the flanks to make it completely distinct from other 8-sided watches you might want to compare it to. The case has a compact quality to it thanks to the lack of traditional lugs that makes it wear very comfortably despite its somewhat complex shape. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it wears small (hard to do with a solid gold watch) but it doesn’t have the overpowering feeling you sometimes get with an integrated bracelet sports watch.  

All Moser watches have something special happening in the caseband, and the Streamliner is no exception. The Pioneer I reviewed last year had small textured cutouts molded out of the sides of the case, and the Streamliner feels like a cousin to this design, with a narrow cavity running down the side of the watch with a pronounced brushed finish. This adds a level of tension to the different layers of the case that I enjoyed quite a bit, and provides a showcase for some rather impeccable finishing, as we transition from radial brushing on the top of the case, to a wide polished bevel, to that brushed cavity, and then back to mirror polishing. This design also makes the case feel and look thinner than it might otherwise. It comes in at just about 12mm tall, but you could have convinced me it was closer to 10mm when I was wearing it. 

The Streamliner bracelet is the watch’s not-so-secret weapon. It achieves a perfect drape on the wrist thanks to the narrow link design and the placement of those links immediately next to one another. The relatively small and tightly packed links allow the bracelet to conform easily to any shape. It strangely reminded me of vintage Omega “flat-link” style bracelets that you might find on an old Speedmaster. They too have narrow links that are practically nestled into one another.

As with the case, the finishing on the bracelet is exceptional, and borderline mind boggling if you stop to think about it for a moment. The surface of each link is vertically brushed in the same manner as the brushed elements of the case, but the sides of each link get a high polish that you only see when the links begin to articulate. Aesthetically, this is simply an incredibly attractive way to finish a bracelet. In practice, it means that the bracelet has its own sense of movement, not unlike the tourbillon on the dial, as light hits the polished and brushed bits simultaneously. You are never not aware of the intricate nature of how the bracelet is held together. 

Much has already been written and said elsewhere about the organic look of the Streamliner, and I don’t have much to add in that regard except to say that the unusual fish scale like design of the bracelet has surprising functionality in addition to being interesting from a purely visual perspective. It makes the Streamliner immediately identifiable in a sea of similar integrated bracelet sports watches, but it also makes it wear unlike anything else thanks to its construction. It’s among the most comfortable sports watches I’ve ever tried on. 

#1. Vantablack 

Even though I’ve been a pretty big fan of Moser as a brand for years, I’ve met Vantablack with a certain amount of skepticism. It always seemed, frankly, like a bit of a gimmick. Even if it “works,” what’s the benefit of a watch dial that absorbs all the light that’s thrown at it? Does it offer utility of any kind? Are there things a Vantablack dial can do from a legibility perspective that a normal black dial cannot? 

I won’t keep you in suspense. There is no benefit. It has no utility. And it doesn’t have any particular impact on legibility. But it’s still one of the coolest things I’ve seen on a watch since I’ve gotten into the hobby. 


Prior to my experience with the STV, my time with Vantablack dials was limited to trade shows and boutiques with lighting that doesn’t serve any watch particularly well. But taking the Streamliner outside where I could observe it in natural light, the appeal of a Vantablack dial began to click for me. The impression you get is simply unlike any other black dial experience you’ve ever had. The best way I can explain it is that it just appears as if nothing is there – that you can stare into the dial forever. 

You probably have a black dialed watch in your possession right now. If you do, go ahead and look at it. No matter how black it is, you can probably still “see” the dial. You can make out the surface, you can see a shadow cast from the watch’s hands, and if you bring it into the light you can see that the dial stops at a certain point. It’s like swimming in a pool; you can see the bottom if you take a look below.

Vantablack is like swimming in the ocean, when there’s a new moon. No bottom detected. When you bring it into the light, you can see reflections bouncing off the crystal, but the dial underneath remains a constant and impossibly deep black. It forces you to recalibrate on the fly what you’re actually seeing when you’re looking at a normal dial versus a Vantablack dial. The lack of shadows, once you notice, really stays with you, and will puzzle you if you start to think about how this effect is accomplished. 

On the first day that I had the STV, I ran into a friend (not a watch friend, just a normal person) while I had the watch on my wrist. I don’t usually have a $120,000 watch on my wrist, so I thought I’d show it to her and get her impressions. She immediately, without any guidance or prodding from me, identified that there was something unusual about the dial. I think it’s fairly easy to be cynical about new technology in an industry as old as watchmaking, but in a watch with an exposed tourbillon, a ridiculous amount of heavy red gold, and a case and bracelet design like no other, to be immediately struck by a black dial says something interesting about the impact this material has. 

Needless to say, I was fairly transfixed by the Vantablack effect and the way that it seems to defy physics at every turn. I’ve heard some critique the execution of the Vantablack coating on this watch in particular out of a belief that a completely sterile dial without any hour markings (or a tourbillon) would be more interesting, and in keeping with some established norms within the Moser design language. I might have had some of the same concerns prior to seeing this watch in the metal, but I think the hour markers, once you realize that they’re attached from the back of the dial to protect the delicate Vantablack coating, offer plenty of drama on their own. Having tangible “stuff” on the dial that contrasts with the Vantablack coating helps to make it that much more impressive and visually striking. The dial is basically an endless black void, but punctuated acutely with gold markers and, of course, the tourbillon, which literally tears a hole through the nothingness. 

One of the better expressions of how Vantablack works in practice comes from Moser’s CEO Edouard Meylan, via his Instagram. In a recent post, you’ll see his wrist shot of the STV with a rainbow extending across his shirt sleeve and the watch dial. This is an optical effect we’re all familiar with, but notice how the rainbow is visible on this shirt sleeve, and on the tourbillon, but doesn’t reflect off the dial itself. The Vantablack dial acts as a literal black hole from which light is unable to escape. 


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A post shared by Edouard Meylan (@edmeylan)


An idea that I’ve been kicking around in my head and that has popped up in my reviews from time to time is that as I’m exposed to more watches, I’m less interested in pure functionality, and more concerned with aesthetics. The appeal of watches, to me, is that they are beautiful objects, and aesthetically pleasing. That doesn’t mean that watches you might normally classify as tools won’t find their way to my wrist – I literally just picked up a new-to-me IWC 3706, which is a watch as toolish as they come, but has a strong visual and aesthetic draw for me because of its case finishing, the understated dial, and the way the design does so much in a quiet and subtle way. But I’ll probably never use the chronograph to time anything of consequence, and the soft iron inner cage is similarly useless in my possession. It just looks awesome. 

Same with the Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack. This thing, to me, is just drop dead gorgeous, and even if it’s wildly impractical for someone like me, it’s hard to deny the very obvious and over the top visual appeal. 

As Worn & Wound has aged and matured, this website has also covered watches that are not in the normal affordable wheelhouse that our longest term readers (including myself) became comfortable with in the early days. At Windup Watch Fairs, on Instagram, and at in-person meetups, I’m sometimes asked about a shift to covering and exploring the higher end, what that means, and how we approach it. I certainly can’t speak for every editor, but to me reviewing a watch like this completely ridiculous solid gold tourbillon comes out of the same type of enthusiasm I’ve always had for affordable Seikos and the like. My curiosity about watches isn’t price dependent, but is driven by something more intangible that draws me to watches at all price points, and in just about every genre. 

Most importantly, it’s worth remembering that we don’t generally approach a written review with a “Buying Guide” mentality. I’m not suggesting anyone go out and buy a Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack, just as I’d never suggest anyone go out and buy a Seiko Turtle. But even if you can’t afford a watch that sits at this price point, we like to think there’s potentially something enlightening, educational, or (hopefully) entertaining with respect to reading our approach to a watch in this category. Restricting the watch content we consume to only include watches that we might purchase seems extremely limiting to me, and the notion that you need to possess something to appreciate it has always befuddled me. Imagine walking around an art museum being angry that you can’t afford the Monet on the wall. You get the idea. 

This is just to say, it’s not lost on me that the STV is a deeply unusual watch to write about. Having worn it for a bit, it seems somehow beyond criticism. I don’t mean that in the sense that it’s perfect, but rather in the sense that in making this watch, Moser seems to have accomplished exactly what they set out to do, without making any compromises. This watch is in a rare category: the Spare-No-Expense Super Watch. I found that my reaction to it was an emotional one, more than one based on logic and reason. And that, I think, is the point of a watch like this. It’s meant to titillate, and to take your breath away with the luster of all that gold, the movement of the tourbillon, and that confounding dial. On those terms, it’s hard to classify the Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack as anything other than a complete success. H. Moser

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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.