One of the most conspicuous and unmistakable watch cases on the market must be Hautlence’s retro TV-shaped case with ample viewing room to enjoy the brand’s novel time displays. Founded in 2004 and christened Hautlence – an anagram of Neuchâtel – the brand became part of the MELB Holding Group in 2012, packed its bags and relocated to Schaffhausen to share technology with its sister H. Moser & Cie. Hautlence’s latest take on its Vagabonde wandering hours is now accompanied by a flying tourbillon with a superconductor dial made by lume man and material innovator, James Thompson, aka Black Badger.
The wandering hours complication is hardly a new invention. Inspired by a night clock built for Pope Alexander XII by the Campani brothers in 1656, this complication replaced conventional hands with a single indicator for the hours moving along an arc indicating the minutes. Relying on a satellite construction with three or four arms, the next numeral would pop up when the hour elapsed. Hautlence’s wandering hours complication, which we saw in 2018 with the Vagabonde 01, was revived, refreshed and revisited last year in the attractive Vagabonde Series 4.
Although logic would dictate that the latest Vagabonde be accompanied by the number 5, the new wandering hours with tourbillon has been christened the Vagabonde Series 3. Following last year’s makeover, the signature TV-shaped case is sleeker and more streamlined now with an integrated white rubber strap and matching rubber ring around the crown. It still has a commanding wrist presence, mind you, with its 50.8mm diameter and 43mm length, but the stainless steel case has a midnight blue PVD coating that visually attenuates some of the mass. The relatively slim height of the case – 11.9mm, including the extra-hard bevelled sapphire crystal – also collaborates to make the watch less bulky. To accentuate the geometry of the extended octagonal bezel and case, the surfaces have alternating polished and brushed finishings. Thanks to the bumper on the left side of the case and the crown guards protecting the large rubber-clad crown, the case has a water-resistance rating of 100 metres.
Hautlence has always had a soft spot for honeycombs, and the geometric pattern is used as the structure of the base dial. Crafted by James “Black Badger” Thompson, the copper-niobium superconductor material used for the dial is the same material used for particle accelerators. Consisting of copper with hexagonal niobium filaments, the silvery-grey superconductor material is cut across the grain at a specific angle and then soaked in an acid bath – which attacks the copper but leaves the niobium intact – to reveal a contrasting raw metal honeycomb lattice. The ripple-like pattern on the superconductor dial base is created by removing material.
The time display relies on three jumping hour satellites hidden under the static matte black hour discs. The hour numerals rotate behind the discs until the current hour pops up in the blue window just above the central axis. The sapphire minutes track provides the motion on the dial, which rotates on top of the hour satellites aligning with the current hour. Ensuring optimal legibility, the white numerals on the minutes track are made from Globolight, a ceramic compound loaded with Super-LumiNova. By placing the one-minute flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock under a blue openworked bridge, the hallmark trefoil arrangement of the wandering hours becomes a lucky four-leaf clover.
A circular sapphire crystal on the caseback reveals the automatic calibre B30 movement with its bidirectional pawl-winding mechanism and newly designed rotor with Hautlence’s infinity rotor delivering a robust 3-day power reserve. The synergy between Moser and Hautlence can be appreciated here; the base movement is Moser’s automatic HMC200, while the modifications for the planetary display were courtesy of Hautlence. Equipped with a flying tourbillon, the movement has a double hairspring produced by sister company Precision Engineering AG.
Availability & Price
The Hautlence Vagabonde Tourbillon Series 3 is a limited edition of 28 pieces and retails for CHF 65,000 (incl. tax). For more information, please consult hautlence.com.