If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that we, at Monochrome-Watches, have something for independent watchmakers, with their creativity and boldness. For some, it’s vintage watches, for others it’s divers or chronographs. Here, we always try to have a specific focus on the brands that people can’t see in the flesh everyday. One of them even has a more special place in our hearts, as we have been covering them for years and we’ve never been disappointed with their creations. This brand is named Hautlence and here is the full review of their sporty, round, flashy watch, the HLRQ-05 with its orange accents and its so-cool movement.
Hautlence – the anagram of Neufchatel, Switzerland, the city where the brand was created – was founded in 2004, three years after the first ideas and the first sketches. Guillaume Tetu, co-founder of the manufacture, wanted to create something unusual, different, mechanically innovative and unseen, a watch both conceptual in its shape and playful in its display. This concept lead in 2005 to the first Hautlence, the one that is still today an icon, the HL. Back in the days of its introduction, the Hautlence HL was a real ground breaker. The design was totally new – a large rectangular case – and the funtions, together with the use of an in-house movement were also something rarely seen on pieces back then. The trend around the actual independent watchmakers was not that important 10 years ago and Hautlence can be seen as a pioneer.
Since, the industry has changed and what we seen as innovative and impressive can now be figured out as something more classical. In the actual context of the industry, the HL is a classic, a reasonable watch – which doesn’t affect at all our love for this watch, especially the HL Ti 2 edition and the brand new Black Ceramic.
Within the last few years, Hautlence have introduced new types of watches, including the HLQ, the first round timepiece of the brand, with a new movement (based on the first in-house calibre) and with a date. Besides these already impressive pieces of horology, Hautlence also created a truly impressive watch, the 2010 Hautlence HL2.0, a 200.000 Euros beauty with a very, very cool display and movement. Last year, they went the opposite direction however – in order to catch new collectors with lower budgets but with the same envy of original and unique watches, and a wish of the new owner, Meylan Group, also owner of Moser & Cie – with the launch of the Destination and of the Invictus, their first chronograph.
Those two where not the only newly introduced watches in the collection, as Hautlence also came with another novelty, watches that boast the in-house movement and thus the unique Hautlence display: the Hautlence HLRQ04 & HLRQ05, two round, sporty, flashy watches.
The Hautlence HLRQ-05 is the sporty and flashy proposition of the brand. It shares both some of the DNA of the brand – the unique Hautlence display, the multi-layers’ dial, the transparency effects – with a another visual and sensitive approach – a round case, less technical than the HL Ti 2, no honeycomb dial, more colorful, sportier than the now classical and monochromatic previous editions. For sure, it is a Hautlence, there’s no doubt about it, but it has another taste.
Because of these elements, the Hautlence HLRQ-05 feels a little more conventional – as it looks like a watch and not a conceptual object – and at the same time it is a very unique, unusual object – because of the display, of the new, flashy color and of the several layers that creates a very complicated design. As usual with Hautlence, it feels – visually and mechanically – alive, as many of the technical elements can be seen (and heard) in a wink.
The main feature of the HLRQ-05 – and Hautlence’s signature for 10 years now – is the jumping hour and retrograde minute indicators. The jumping hour on the left side of the dial, makes an instantaneous jump, when the retrograde minute hand jumps from 60 to 0. What could be seen as a difficult way to read time, because of two separated indications with an uncommon layout, will in fact demand only a very short adaptation period to become a legible and easily understandable watch. This display is based on a movement conceived and assembled by Hautlence.
Visually, the Hautlence HLRQ-05 is different from the other creations of the brand. If you take a look at the old HL Ti 2 or the brand new Destination, they are based on 2 pillars: a rectangular bevelled case relatively small in its dimensions and a monochromatic look – well, at least, colors are cold and discreet. The same goes for the HLQ, that may be round but also share this strict and cold mechanical feeling. The HLRQ collection is neither rectangular nor strict. It is a round, sporty and colorful range of watches – as you can see with the 2013 HLRQ-02 and HLRQ-03, that were already coming with bright accents. With the HLRQ-05 (and the HLRQ-04), Hautlence goes a step further as flashy colors are also invited on the case for a resolute sporty feeling.
Case and Strap
As said before, the case of the Hautlence HLRQ-05 is round – we guess that with our introduction and the photos, you discovered it by yourself. Even if it could have been shocking (relatively speaking) when Hautlence came with a round case (in 2009 with the HLQ), we’re now used to this shape that finally pleasantly mixes with the in-house display. This case is in fact quite complicated and composed of several parts, made in different materials.
The 44mm case is composed first of a central part fully round and with flat casebands. It is made of black DLC-coated brushed grade 2 titanium. On the top of it sits a thin and bevelled polished bezel made of black DLC-coated stainless steel and a sapphire crystal, also bevelled and with anti-reflective coating. On the back, the movement is visible through a sapphire crystal circled with a black DLC-coated grade 2 titanium screwed ring. Finally, the whole case is surrounded by 4 horns, screwed to the central part. These 4 bright orange pieces are made of varnish-coated stainless steel. This is the main difference with the prototypes we’ve handled a few months ago, as these horns were made in anodized aluminum, with a brushed and matte finish. From the words of Hautlence, even if the look on these prototypes of the HLRQ-04 & HLRQ-05 was validated, the durability of the coating was not satisfying – this explains the choice of a classical glossy varnish applied on stainless steel. Small regret however, as the matte finish was more qualitative.
The case is also composed of a black DLC-coated steel crown (engraved with the Hautlence logo) and a push button located at 12 that is used to quickly correct the date. The Hautlence HLRQ-05 comes on a hand-sewn rolled-edge Louisiana alligator rubberized leather with large square scales. It has a proper matte look and feel that gives the watch a real modern and sporty design. It comes on a choice of a pin buckle or a folding clasp, both made in grade 2 titanium with black DLC-coating.
On the wrist, the 44mm are relatively reasonable and the gives the feeling on the wrist that you have a 41 / 42mm watches. Combined with a 12.5mm height, short lugs and a lightweight (thanks to the titanium), the Hautlence HLRQ-05 is perfectly balanced and comfortable to wear.
Dial and hands
What doesn’t change with this HLRQ-05 are the depth and the transparency of the dial. One of the hallmarks of Hautlence had always been the complexity of their dial, composed of multiple layers of sapphire, several 3D applied tracks and semi-transparent discs. These watches are playing with light and reflections to create depth and legibility. If you look at most of the watches created by Hautlence, you’ll see that they are all featuring several layers of sapphire crystal that can be treated against reflections or not (in order to create a depth effect) and translucent or partially tinted (to reveal or hide some indications). It is the case with the recently revealed Destination (that uses an intermediate crystal with applied indexes and numerals to create floating parts) or the Hautlence HL2.4 with the tinted sapphires that reveals partially the indications.
This same concept is used in the Hautlence HLRQ-05. Under the main sapphire crystal that protects the dial, we can find another crystal that features an applied logo at 12, a black surface that circles the entire indicator with a metallized HAUTLENCE inscription. On top of it are printed the quarters with Orange Luminova numerals and a white minute track. On the other side, the hours are printed also in orange luminous material. This intermediate crystal is partially tinted except for the central part – to reveal the hours and the minutes – and a small circle at 6 – to reveal the date. On the top of that, there is another disc for the hours. This disc is partially tinted to reveal the actual hour, pointed with a triangular orange index.
This dial is really complex because of this superposition of these several layers, because of the several zones that are tinted or not, reflecting light or not. The mechanics are also fully exposed – like for instance the mechanism of the retrograde hand between the 30 and 60 indexes or the jumping hour mechanism in the middle of the hour dial. However, once used to this particular display, legibility is great and the pleasure of looking through the dial (and not at the dial) is immense.
This watch features Hautlence in-house movement, meaning that it comes with the very cool and unique display of the brand. Even if very close from the one cased in the HL Ti 2 (they share the same base), it is not the exact same calibre – not only because its round but also because the arrangement of the indicators are different and because some features are specific. Before going into the complications, here are some facts: 40 hours of power reserve, 255 components, 21,600 vibrations/hour, jumping hours / retrograde minutes / quick date.
The movement is based on a Peseux 7001 – mainly for the gear train and the storage of energy – but for the rest, everything is specific. What you easily spot are the bridges, with their unique shapes and finishing’s – large Geneva stripes, polished bevelled angles by hand and a logo engraved on an applied plate. Then comes the technical parts, located on the top and visible through the dial. As said, the Hautlence HLRQ-05 comes with the Hautlence display but in a slightly different arrangement compared to the HL series. While the latter comes with a rod and cam mechanism for the retrograde minute (explained here), HLRQ series features a connecting semi-wheel (visible between 30 and 60) instead of a connecting rod. The other difference concerns the indications, as the Calibre HLQ replaces the small second by a date.
The other part of the display is well known. The jumping hour’s mechanism is the same in-house movement all the other Hautlence watches. Instead of a disk displaying the jumping hour through a fixed aperture, Hautlence displays the hours on a fixed disk. On top of that a sapphire disk with an aperture jumps to reveal the hour. Technically this is no walk in the park, because this kind of jumping hour display requires more energy and inertia. This jumping disc (that you can see working with a notched wheel in the middle of the hour sub-dial) is linked to the retrograde minute hand. Thus, both are jumping or returning to zero at the exact same instant (with a mechanical and impressive click noise).
With this HLRQ-05, Hautlence managed to mix its classical and iconic display with major changes in the case, the feeling and the colors. This watch, without denying its roots, renews the concept of Hautlence with a sporty, playful and colored feeling that could be worn more as a toy for big boys than something serious and rigorous like the HL series. The build quality remains the same (even if the glossy finish of the orange part is not our cup of tea) and it is still a pleasure to feel, hear and see the work of the mechanics. Hautlence’s display is definitely cool – and so is this HLRQ-05. Price is not forgettable at 35.000 Euros but explained by the complications and specific movement.
More details on the official website of Hautlence.