Hautlence, an anagram of famed Swiss watchmaking cradle Neuchatel, is an innovative luxury independent watch brand. In 2012, its already excellent reputation was further strengthened by the arrival at the company helm of one of the industry’s most well-respected personalities, Georges-Henri Meylan. Meylan was the former CEO of Audemars Piguet. Now in his 70s he has formed a company, MELB Holdings, which owns not only Hautlence but also H. Moser.In his own words, if you sit around watching the TV all day you won’t live long, so this is what Georges-Henri, together with his sons, does to stay active.
Working closely with brand Co-Founder Guillaume Tetu, they are busy creating a new watchmaking legacy with what they like to describe as an alternative approach to time telling. The brand is backed by a top flight, highly motivated team and by some of the finest artisans in the region. HAUTLENCE’s objective is to make its mark on time.
Earlier this year the manufacture released the latest addition to the brand’s impressive HL2 Collection. The Hautlence HL 2.3. It comes in black DLC-coated grade 5 titanium and follows on from the HL2.1 in white gold and the rose gold HL2.2. First launched in 2011, the Concepts d’Exception series, which comprises the HL2 watches, was the result of the brand’s objective to create pure mechanical timepieces that offer an alternative approach to time telling.
Since the brand’s inception in 2004, Hautlence has been a brand noted for experimenting with design codes. The hallmark of the Hautlence HL2.3, like the other watches in the HL2 collection, is its centrally positioned retrograde minute indicator and hour display that uses a 12 link chain and numerals that jump forward each time the hour changes.
The Hautlence HL2.3, just like the Hautlence 2, has been created using three functions and each of them has been worldwide patented. Hours are displayed by means of a 12-link chain hinged on a pallet system. The speed regulator ensures that the hours display changes in a controlled and seamless manner in 3 to 4 seconds instead of instantly. It completes 48 revolutions at each hour change. The hours system is activated by a one-revolution mechanism mainly composed of a connecting rod and a rack. Located on the left hand side of the watch is the ‘cage’ that contains an oscillator that rotates 60° every hour and which helps to compensate for the effects that gravity has on the movement. The last complication is the two barrels system. One of the barrels is wound by the automatic system while the other is only dedicated to moving the complication.
The automatic calibre HL 2.0 used in the watch features a retrograde power reserve indicator at 5 o’ clock with a power reserve that lasts for 45 hours. The movement is composed of 552 components and integrates 92 jewels in its construction. It runs on the lower frequency of 18,000 vph, while its dimensions are 37.8mm in length, 33.2mm in width and 12.35mm in thickness. Like many a high-end movement, the finishing is exquisite and exacting with satin-brushed, hand-drawn, hand bevelled, ruthenium-anthracite coating, as well as highly polished decoration throughout.
Hautlence HL2.3 comes in a sizeable but undeniably elegant 50 x 42mm rectangular casing made of black titanium with sand-blasted, satin-brushed and hand polished surfaces. The watch comes on a black and brown hand-sewn rolled-edge Louisiana alligator leather strap with large square scales. The folding clasp is titanium and 18 carat pink gold.
Hautlence HL2.3 Concepts d’Exception – Price
Limited to just 28 pieces, one can only begin to imagine how many hours of skill and expertise it would take to assemble the HL2.3, which at 180,000 CHF may go some way to explain its hefty price tag. Like many haute horology brands in Switzerland, despite the will to create new and compelling watches, there is a steely core of tradition that runs through the company, meaning that watches are still made to well researched and reason traditions. Hautlence see themselves at the pinnacle of 21st century watchmaking.