In August we wrote about the “Eccentric Marriage of Hautlence and Eric Cantona“. Now the relationship gives forth its first-born to the industry, the Hautlence Invictus Morphos Limited Edition watch.
In the build-up to the tenth anniversary of Hautlence, Bill Muirhead the CEO of MELB Holding who acquired the company in 2012 made the following declaration; “Hautlence has always been first and foremost a product. Now we are to become a brand“. For some enthusiasts of Hautlence these words may set alarm bells ringing, fearing a possible dilution of the spirit and character of what once one of the industry’s trail blazers and, a move towards mass-production.
Hautlence Invictus Morphos – Looking to a bright future
Thankfully MELB did not simply bring deep pockets to the deal, Georges-Henri Meylan who headed-up the investment company was previously a CEO at Audemars Piguet, he has an intimate knowledge of the industry and a love of horology, in other words, he is a man who understands more than just return on investment. And, be in no doubt, were it not for the acquisition then Hautlence would have been a victim of the watch industry’s period of boom and bust, and the company who gave us their technical know-how and unusual indications could have been lost forever.
Now the restructuring of production and marketing is well underway and Hautlence can go into their second decade with a positive outlook and a new watch, the Invictus Morphos Limited Edition, engendered by their collaboration with Eric Cantona, who let’s face it was never going to be a silent partner.
Hautlence Eric Cantona – Eccentricity from the Master
This piece combines technical and artistic aesthetics on a dial which is nothing less than stunning. On the outer dial creativity has been unleashed recreating the delicate but vivid wing patterns of the glorious creature for which this piece is named, using mother-of-pearl inserts. On each side the silvered hour numerals “float” on their own section of sapphire – but, that is where the ethereal characteristics of this watch end, everything else is superbly technical. The black centre dial has a small seconds counter at 12 o’clock and on the left, the two chronograph counters are each defined by a rhodium coloured rim. Over on the right side an open section allows for a look-see through to the calibre and here you will also notice a date ring.
The case shape is one which you will no doubt recognise, and its unexpected angles are emphasised by alternating polished and satin finishes, removing some of the starkness often associated with titanium. The hands have been faceted and coated with blue PVD so that they conform to both the colours and luscious appearance of the beautiful artwork at the edge of the dial. This is the first Hautlence chronograph watch and it is driven by a Dubois Depraz 293 skeleton movement on a Soprod A10 base.
This is a very imaginative addition to the Hautlence portfolio. The pairing of edgy, technical time indications and exquisitely executed whimsical artwork does not often work on the confines of a watch dial but in this case the result is dramatic yet harmonious. When it was announced that Eric Cantona would have a hand in the design of a watch, something artistic was expected, but something so delicate? so poetic? The man still has the ability to surprise.
The Hautlence Invictus Morphos Limited Edition will be an edition of 250 pieces. Price: CHF 22’500.