The Hautlence watch company, set up only ten years ago, are really on a roll. A milestone year, 2014 has seen CEO Guillaume Tetu welcome football legend Eric Cantona into the fold as brand ambassador and really, it’s something of a match made in heaven, because like the former midfield maestro, Hautlence do things according to their own set of rules. As they round out their anniversary year, Hautlence have announced one last piece to say adieu to 2014 with. The new Hautlence HL2.5 is of course a continuation of their Concepts d’Exception project, which has thus far been the physical platform for their profoundly innovative in-house Calibre HL2.0 automatic self winding movement.
Always recognising a good thing when we see it, here at Monochrome we have covered the H2 series extensively since its inception; see here, here and here, so our regular readers will know about the mind-boggling technical complexity of the movement, its hypnotic rotating escapement bridge construction, and the glass-house case which enrobes it all.
The Hautlence HL2.5 adds a brash sporty dimension to the collection, and sees the introduction of a high-gloss, bright red varnish to the highly eclectic mix, with the inverted ‘C’ of the retrograde minutes dial and the square hours plates outstanding in red, contrasting vividly against the mineralistic black DLC coated titanium frame of the mostly sapphire case, and the metallic hues of the mechanism within.
The Hautlence HL2 series’ unique approach to displaying the time features minutes via a stocky triangular pointer against a centrally situated retrograde counter, and just as the pointer completes its sixty-minute arc and springs back to start out again, the centre ‘boss’ with the italicised ‘infinity’ motif is catapulted into a frenetic spin as its energy dissipation regulates the passing just above of the 12-link chain with its hour plates, ‘half-trailing’ so that it moves into the position just vacated by its neighbour in an eye-pleasing leisurely 3-4 second span, as opposed to the almost violent jumping action it might otherwise have were it not for the speed regulator.
The asymmetric case design with its massive sapphires front and rear allows ambient light to flood in, and at the same time reveal the inner secrets of HL2.0, including the escapement and balance, whose constant interaction provides a mesmerising distraction, until at the passing of each hour from old to new, the entire escapement in its bridge assembly performs a 60° or quarter rotation in unison with the hour chain.
Taking the watch and inverting it reveals yet more expanses of sapphire, and here the oscillating weight is smaller than typical, taking up less area, and also opening up the workings of the movement, and in particular where its gear wheels couple with each other, sometimes at angles of 90°.
In the famous words of JFK when speaking about the US space programme back in the 1960’s when he declared that ‘we choose to go to the moon … and do these other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard’, one could easily apply the same to the philosophy adopted by Guillaume Tetu and his team at Hautlence. He even accepts that the challenge of constructing such an elaborate case means that due to them ‘exploding’ during the assembly process, it can take six crystals to build one case. For sure there are easier ways of creating a watch, but as in Kennedy’s Space Race there are very few who can claim to have left their footprints on the moon, and the effort to do so was immense, and in watchmaking terms, that is what Hautlence have done, and continue to venture into their own personal space-time continuum.
The Hautlence HL2.5 is a limited edition of 28 pieces and will be priced at CHF 180,000. For more details, please visit Hautlence.
- 2 barrels: one finishing barrel (power reserve for the entire watch calibre including power for the second barrel) and a complication barrel. Hours displayed by a 12-link chain hinged on a pallet system. The speed regulator ensures that the hours display changes in a controlled and jerk-free manner in 3-4 seconds instead of instantly. It completes 48 revolutions at each hour change. Hours system activated by a one-revolution mechanism mainly composed of a connecting rod and a rack. Mobile bridge-type calibre comprising the regulating organ and rotating through 60° at each change of hour. Movement kinematics featuring 90° changes of direction by means of special bevelled gears. Automatic calibre with oscillating weight in 18-carat white gold.
- Dimensions: 37.8 x 33.2 x 12.35 mm
- Manufacturing technology: multi-axis micro-machining, wire EDM. LIGA photolithography; Number of components: 552
- Power reserve: 45 hours
- Regulating organ: 18,000 vibrations/hour
- Number of jewels: 92
- Finishing: fine-watchmaking type (satin-brushed, hand-drawn, hand-bevelled, ruthenium- anthracite coating and mirror-polished steel elements
- Case: black DLC-coated grade 5 titanium
- Horns: black DLC-coated grade 5 titanium, screw-in
- Crown: polished grade 5 titanium with micro-machined HAUTLENCE logo
- Glass: 3 three-dimensional sapphire crystals, scratch-resistant, produced by multi-axis grinding
- Alternating finishes: sand-blasting, satin-brushing and hand polishing
- Horn and case-back screws: titanium
- Dimensions: 50 mm x 42 mm x 17.8 mm
- Weight: 49 grams
- Upper sapphire dial face: luminescent white minutes and hour-markers
- Lower sapphire dial face: rhodium (chrome) metallization, red transfer and black varnish- coated opaque zone
- Hour-markers: red varnish-coated metal plate and luminescent white varnish-coated hours numerals
- Minutes hand: rhodium galvanic plating with luminescent white tip
- Power-reserve hand: steel with red varnish-coated indicator
- 180,000 Swiss Francs (including taxes)