Dressed in a revised, nicely angled and surprisingly comfortable steel case, two novelties mark a sportier chapter for HAUTLENCE. We showed the tourbillon and retrograde Linear Series 1 and the satellites of the Vagabonde Series 4 to the late summer sun.
It’s been a while since the last news came from Hautlence. The brand, known for its rectangular designs and interesting time displays like the 12-link chain in the HL movements, was founded by Guillaume Tétu in 2004 and became a member of the MELB Holding 10 years ago. To shake things up, the group owned by the Meylan family decided to pass the baton of brand management to Samuel Hoffmann in 2022, who has been with H. Moser & Cie since 2018. He started to revise the brand and while building on the signatures of HAUTLENCE, he introduced changes in terms of go-to-market model (revised retailer network), a new brand concept and website and a fresh sporty product approach.
In terms of design, the new line-up represents a refined evolution of the well-known TV-shaped watches, channelling two distinct time displays powered by different movements into a themed collection. Beyond the fact that both are truly handsome individually, their joint, well-defined and executed appearance is what really strikes.
A major factor is obviously the new case with the integrated blue rubber strap, which they proudly share. Compared to the previous Hautlence models I had the chance to try on, this 43.0mm wide, 50.8mm high and 11.9mm (with the sapphire) tick object is surprisingly comfortable to wear. And I’m saying this after having the timepiece on for days in +33℃ degrees doing all sorts of outdoor activities. Of course, even with the reduced thickness, it is not something you would slip under your shirt cuff, but considering the complex mechanism encapsulated in the rectangle shape, the wear is remarkable. Especially since the designers paid attention to constructing the crown (with a ring of blue rubber similar to the strap) in a way that it wouldn’t thrust my hand either. The satin-finished and polished steel bezel and the bevelled sapphire nicely mimic the shape of the wrist and provide a really good tactile experience – I caught myself petting them a number of times involuntarily. Just like staring at the exciting layers of dial-side internal elements through the angled sapphire.
The two models share tones and materials too. The dials are rhodium-plated brass and while on the Linear Series 1 they are satin-finished in a north-south direction, it is frosted on the Vagabonde Series 4. They both have a large and optically pleasing sapphire ring (a partial ring on the Linear Series 1) holding the luminous minute numerals. The depth of both pieces is emphasised by the polished metal walls on all edges of the TV shape with a HAUTLENCE script and logo at the top. The blue colour of the rubber strap returns on the crown as mentioned before, but also on the hours satellites of the Vagabonde and the hours scale of the Linear on the left. Even some key caliber parts, such as the retrograde hour linkage and the tourbillon bridge visible due to the skeletonized design of the Linear are blued.
The two time displays require two different movements.
Leveraging the R&D and capacities of its brother in the Group, the Linear Series 1 received H. Moser & Cie’s HMC 804 automatic manufacture flying tourbillon calibre as a base (the same movement that works in H. Moser & Cie’s new Streamliner Troubillon Vantablack®), which they built the display module with Agenhor on top of. 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 disengages the probe to release the accumulated energy. The linkage then jumps and returns to the 1 numeral. The 3Hz 72 hours going reserve calibre is called D50 and can be admired from both sides.
The rotation of the central sapphire minute ring and the satellites of the hours is the play of the B30 calibre operating in the Vagabonde Series 4. It is also based on a H. Moser & Cie movement. Time can be adjusted with the crown in both directions, which offers a pretty cool animation. Just like its sibling, this has a 3Hz balance wheel and a 72 hours power reserve.
The two debuting models excel in clarity and even in legibility in spite of the funky time displays. The company that produces roughly 200 watches annually offers both novelties in a 28-piece limited series.