Founded in 2004 by Guillaume Tétu, Hautlence (an anagram of Neuchâtel) has been one of the most active independent watchmakers of the 2000s, creating characterful watches with unique displays. Creative, dynamic and unique in its design, the brand has known rather difficult times and has been acquired by the MELB Holding in 2012 – an independent family watchmaking group that also owns H. Moser & Cie. Not overly active in the past few years, the group has decided to blow some fresh air into the brand, with a new structure and a new strategy. And the result comes today, with the brand new Hautlence Linear Series 1, a watch that takes on the classic cues of the brand but also marks a new step in Hautlence’s history.
Hautlence has known some rather complex times but it’s now back in action, and some drastic changes have been made to the company. Now with a new structure based in Schaffhausen and operational support from its sister company, H. Moser & Cie., the brand is now being headed by Samuel Hoffmann, who has also introduced a new brand concept and product strategy. While ensuring continuity in the concept, design and mechanical audacity, the new collection is also breathing a new wind with some evolutions to be noted both in the design and the movements.
The new Linear Series 1 is unmistakably Hautlence. For many years, and since its creation, the TV-shaped case has been the brand’s design hallmark. Right from the earliest days with the HL series, watches by Hautlence have been different from the crowd, first thanks to this imposing and striking rectangular case, opening up on original displays often consisting of retrograde and jumping indications. Kinetic watchmaking and mechanical ingenuity have long been part of the brand’s DNA, together with this creative design. Both have been kept alive with the new collection.
Even though familiar at first sight, the case of the Hautlence Linear Series 1 has been reworked slightly to become sportier, sleeker and overall more modern. It of course adopts Hautlence’s signature TV screen shape, yet with a bit more refinement and more finesse. More dynamic, with more elements in the equation, the case shows more volumes and more angles than in the past. Made of stainless steel, with retains the classic shape, a rectangle with cut angles, but also introduces integrated lugs and recesses into the flanks. The case, measuring a sizable 43mm × 50.80mm, remains relatively thin at 11.90mm. It shows multiple finishings, with brushed surfaces and polished bevels. Also, as part of its sportier personality, the Linear Series 1 offers water resistance to 100m. The crown has a rubber insert in blue, matching the colour of the integrated rubber strap closed by a folding clasp.
As you can expect with these dimensions and shape, the Linear Series 1 is a watch with presence. It doesn’t fly under the radar and makes a statement on the wrist. Yet, with a 43mm length, the case is reasonably compact and the integrated strap offers comfort and balance. Don’t be mistaken, it’s not meant to be hidden under a cuff, but it is wearable for such a creative, daring watch.
The dial of the Hautlence Linear Series 1 is equally bold and graphic, as it’s always been the case with the brand. Traditionally, Hautlence watches made use of jumping indications and retrograde hands, and the mechanism driving these complex displays were almost always in full view. Things haven’t changed here, yet the display module is new. Developed together with Agenhor, the display consists of a graduated scale resembling those used on precision measuring instruments. It indicates the hours in a linear way, thanks to an exposed large and slim linkage that recalls that of the HL Series.
On this new model, a small white pointer on the end of the linkage indicates the hour on the vertical scale. Once the 12 numeral is passed, the snail at the centre of the dial disengages the probe to release the accumulated energy. The linkage then jumps and returns to the 1 numeral. Minutes are displayed centrally in a classic way, and read on a sapphire crystal disc with raised white numerals. Finally, the Linear Series 1 is equipped with a flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock, with a blue skeletonised bridge.
Under the sapphire crystal beats a well-known movement. Making use of its connection with H. Moser, the Hautlence Linear Series 1 relies on the base of the automatic tourbillon calibre HMC 804. On top sits the module developed by Agenhor and the whole assembly consists of 239 components. The movement beats at 3Hz and stores up to 72 hours of power reserve. Importantly, the decoration is specific to Hautlence, with a more technical and a more modern look. The bridges are dark grey coated and adorned with a brushed surface, and the oscillating weight recalls the brand’s Moebius logo.
Availability & Price
The Hautlence Linear Series 1 is to be considered a “relaunch model” for the brand and is thus limited to 28 pieces in total. It makes no doubt that other editions will be made in the future, with different materials and new colours. It is priced at CHF 59,000 including taxes. For more details, please visit www.hautlence.com.