Introducing the MIH Gaïa Watch

Affordable, clean, and for a good cause.

One of Switzerland’s most important timepiece museums, the Musée International d’Horlogerie (MIH), is raising funds with a limited edition, rising hours wristwatch that’s both cleanly styled and affordable.

Arriving some 14 years after the first, minimalist MIH watch created by independent watchmakers Ludwig Oechslin and Paul Gerber, the MIH Gaïa watch, named after the annual Gaïa Prize given out by the MIH, is the result of a collaboration between watch industry suppliers located in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the hometown of the MIH.

The MIH Gaïa watch will be crowdfunded, and a minimum number of orders will be needed for it to enter production. Importantly, the MIH Gaïa watch is priced at about US$2400, half what the original MIH watch with an annual calendar cost about a decade ago, making it a compelling value proposition.

MIH Gaia watch 2

A local collaboration

Each aspect of the watch, from design to the case, was the work of a local supplier. Some are little known outside the industry, like buckle maker Cornu & Cie, while others are famous – the dial was made by Jean Singer & Cie, best known for the dials it made for Rolex and Patek Philippe in the mid 20th century.

Slightly bowl-shaped, the case of the watch is inspired by the MIH building, while the domed dial is inspired by the spherical Gaïa Prize trophy.

MIH Gaia watch 1

Time is indicated on two discs: rising hours in a window at 12 o’clock, and the the minutes on a disc just below. It’s a classically sized timepiece, with a steel case that’s 39mm in diameter and just under 10mm high. Inside is a Sellita SW400-1, an automatic movement that’s a clone of the ETA 2824 modified to have a wider base plate to suit a larger case.

MIH Gaia watch 4

MIH Gaia watch 5

A small window on the back reveals part of the rotor

Keeping the past ticking

Profits from the sale of the Gaïa watch will mostly be allocated to restoration of two prized objects in the MIH collection.

The first is the Grand Magicien, a 19th century automaton with a clock and a wand-waving magician figure that answers a set of questions; and the second is a 19th century tellurium by François Ducommun that shows in real-time the movement of the Earth and Moon around the Sun. Both objects incorporate clocks, naturally.

Grand-magicien-automaton-MIH

The Grand Magicien automaton

Tellurium-Ducommun-MIH

Two watchmakers of the MIH with the tellurium by Ducommun

Limited to 200 watches, the Gaïa watch with a blue dial shown here is the “Series 1”, with subsequent series with different dials being a possibility.


Key facts

Diameter: 39mm
Height: 9.74mm
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 30m

Movement: Sellita SW400-1
Functions: Hours and minutes
Winding: Automatic

Frequency: 28,800, or 4Hz
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Calfskin with steel pin buckle

Price and availability

The MIH Gaïa watch is priced at 2,900 Swiss francs, or about US$2910. But early backers of the watch will only pay 2,400 francs, with a 1,000 franc deposit due upon ordering. Delivery is expected in summer 2020.

It’s available online from September 19, 2019, until January 19, 2020, at Montremih.ch.


Correction September 17, 2019: The time display incorporates a rising hours, and not wandering hours as previously indicated.

Correction September 18, 2019: The SW400 is a clone of the ETA 2824, and not the Valjoux 7750 as stated in an earlier version of the article.

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