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Hautlence Vortex Primary Watch

Hautlence Vortex Primary Watch Watch Releases

It can take a lot to stand out in the deluge of creative and beautifully designed (well, not all of them) watches that are released at shows like SIHH 2016. Every now and then, though, your eyes uncross themselves, the caffeine kicks in, and you see something like the Hautlence Vortex Primary watch. It’s a watch that is a whole different kind of, well, different. It’s fun, quirky, and whimsical in a way that I can’t help but appreciate. Reminiscent of several artists, the collaboration between Hautlence and French ex-footballer (that’s soccer for us Americans) Eric Cantona is a standout for me.

Hautlence Vortex Primary Watch Watch Releases

When I first looked at the watch, I could not help but to be reminded of those colorful geometric paintings by Mondrian, who was a champion of neoplasticism. The more I learned about it, the more I found an even more personal connection to the watch. There are 19 different glass panels (sapphire, ruby, and blue spinel glass) utilized that call to mind a stained glass window. As stained glass is something I have personally dabbled in in the past, there is another level of appreciation. Even for those without a personal history with the craft, it looks beautiful on the watch and provides a rich visual experience.

Hautlence Vortex Primary Watch Watch Releases

All of this is housed in the 48-gram (yeah, it’s that light!) body of the Hautlence Vortex Primary watch. Now, when you realize that the case is 50mm wide, 52mm long, and sits 18mm high on the wrist, you know that achieving that weight was no trifling feat. Here, the black PVD-coated grade 5 titanium used certainly helps keep the weight down. I have a feeling that the sheer amount of metal that is not there has the bigger impact, though.

Hautlence Vortex Primary Watch Watch Releases

Other than being a rather colorful diversion, the glass used on the Hautlence Vortex Primary does indeed serve a practical use. First off, it lets a ton of light into the case, allowing you some rather spectacular, if colorful, views into the inner works of the Hautlence HLR 2.0 calibre. As with their prior Vortex watch (hands-on here), the movement gives you the hours on a tank tread over at the 9 o’clock position that move in a trailing half-hour to keep things readable. The HLR 2.0 calibre has 522 components and operates at a frequency of 21,600bph with a 40-hour power reserve. Unlike other models in the lineup, the Hautlence Vortex Primary watch is notable for its lack of a dial. Instead, the minutes scale is printed directly on the sapphire crystal near the center of the case; the regulator should provide a kinetic show directly below that, rotating 60 degrees every hour.

Hautlence Vortex Primary Watch Watch Releases

The Hautlence Vortex Primary watch is being introduced as a limited edition of 18 pieces, but if you ask me, it should have been 19 to match the number of glass panels. While the Hautlence Vortex Primary watch is very much an “art watch,” reading through the tech specs reveals that there is no shortage of true watch-making effort going into the creation of the piece. The tank-tread hours certainly would call to mind (at least, for me) the very engineering-driven Devon watches. The similarity is there, but this seems to take things in much different direction. For me, personally, there is a lot to like with both.


Aside from the draw for those who enjoy or have done stained glass, the Hautlence Vortex Primary watch stands out as a rather colorful example of high-end horology. No, it will not be for everyone, and it probably is not a versatile “every-occasion” watch. For those times that it is broken out (a Mondrian or Chagall exhibit would seem fitting), I cannot picture this but putting a smile on the face of the wearer and, very likely, anyone who catches the light glinting off of the multi-colored panels. Price for the Hautlence Vortex Primary watch is $199,500.

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  • iamcalledryan

    Gosh! The stained glass effect is an interesting one. I certainly don’t want footballer’s names printed on my $200k watch, but that’s just me.

  • Flatulence. That’s all I see when I look at this watch brand. That, and for some reason the watch has a byline printed on the face, as if it’s a newspaper article.

  • Dan Baxter

    I’m sorry, that watch is just Fugly. There is nothing I find attractive about it.

  • IanE

    So, let me guess, the bit done by Cantona was the fingerprint on the rear red panel? (Probably the most irritating bit on this very irritating version of the Vortex!)

  • Omegaboy

    Hautlence rhymes with flatulence. The guy having his name there on the dial is like buying a Rolls and the dealer putting their label on the trunk.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    This is just awful……………..end of review.


    this piece is as eccentric as Cantona and that is quite a task to achieve. In summary I find it hideous but to each is own I also do not wear a saltimbanco outfit either but this watch would just be stunning with it.

  • funNactive

    I’d be willing to pay $20.00 for this lovely piece of art.

  • Marius

    This is probably the ugliest watch I have ever seen. Cantona was a good football player, but certainly not in the same league with Henry, Bergkamp, Ronaldinho, or Messi, so I don`t really understand who would pay $200,000 for this watch.

    • pkansa

      Having never really followed football (aside from the American version), I have (and had) no idea who Cantona is, so perhaps that helped in my interpretation of what I was seeing.

  • TheInsideVoice .

    I’m open to most watch designs. I always try to see some merit in the watches posted here.

    That being said, this thing is an absolute monstrosity. It might be the most hideous watch I’ve ever seen on this site.

    Would be nice if these bloggers were critical once in a while. Everything ends up reading like a puff piece or a paid advertisement (even when it’s not).

    Blogs will always be somewhat of a joke because of the very nature of their business. Bloggers can’t be overly critical because of potential backlash from manufacturers and a loss of access to new products. It’s not just here, it’s every blog.

    • pkansa

      FWIW, if there’s a watch we don’t like, it simply doesn’t get covered. If there are aspects we don’t care about, then we call that out as well. For me, personally, this one just really clicked for me. Is it the sleekest, subtlest styling? No, not in the least. But sometimes you just need a flight of fancy like this Hautlence to put a smile on your face.

  • Nelson

    I like how Hautlence uses the stained glass. I think this watch is not that bad but for $200k, it may not be good enough for me. The printed Cantona’s name makes it wose as I hate Man United.

  • P Oktori

    When will professional football players, presumably the only market for this watch, consider Cantona a true artist or a soccer celebrity whose name they want to carry around, or both? This watch offers less than the original Vortex it is based on. Cantona has done nothing for the brand other than help with marketing, and Guillaume ought to reconsider this joint venture before Hautlence becomes Hublot-2.

  • It’s a good thing it’s roughly $200K – you have to pay a lot for that much ugly. A grand can only buy so much ugliness (and illegibility). To get to this level takes a lot of work and the price needs to reflect all of that hard, but misdirected, work. So good job Hautlence for making this watch so limited and inaccessible via pricing – think of the damage that could be done if a watch this ugly was $50 and sold in department stores to millions of wannabe hipsters.

    • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

      Remember these beauties? They started around a grand. Although I am afraid that no football player was involved…

      • Thanks for the flashback (like a bad acid trip) – yeah those ugly but odd (which mitigates it a bit). And they are too affordable to be taken seriously as an ugly watch. The Hautlence’s ugly demands attention because of its price. It’s a bad joke in another world of market segmentation. Cheers.

  • aRIdd aRid

    For The Price , Personally i Would Prefer A.L.S Datograph Perpetual Turbilion .
    The Glasses Might Be Nice In Term of Colorful Effect That Will Goes Through Into it , But Sadly PVD Coated Into The Titanium Here Might Be Question A Question For A Watch That Cost Nearly $ 200 K .. But I Think Overall its Not Very Bad , Since I do Really Like The Concept of The Caliber Almost Similar Like Davon Watches ,Bringing Something Different Into The Watch Itself . I Guess ..

    • Why do you capitalize each word? Just asking is all…

  • A mixture between the glass windows of a cathedral built in the 60’s and a building block for kids.

  • Roman Klime

    If I’m asked “what is the most expensive ugly watch you saw?”, I will have the answer.

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