Pardon the beat-up case of Hautlence‘s personal HL2.1 prototype that I’ve photographed on my wrist while visiting with the brand recently at the SIAR 2014 in Mexico City. These watches are so rare, even the brand really only has a prototype or two to show off, and each of the HL2.0 collection watches are limited editions of just 28 pieces each. New for 2014 is the next HL2 with the Hautlence HL2.5, the fifth model in the collection that started back in 2010 or 2011, I believe.
Below, you’ll see a video I took in around 2011 with a hands-on look at the Hautlence HL2.2. All the models are the same, save for different case colors, materials, and dial executions. What they all share is one of the most interesting and visually amazing mechanical movements you’ll find. This is pure rare independent watchmaking in the 21st century. The Hautlence HL2 collection was also featured in my book The World’s Most Expensive Watches.
In this article, I am both announcing the Hautlence HL2.5 in black DLC-coated titanium case with red accents, while also giving a hands-on look at the movement – which simply translates so much better in actual photographs. It is also difficult to get an idea of what the Hautlence HL2 case looks like on your wrist without actually seeing it on someone’s wrist. The Hautlence HL2 case is 42mm wide by 50mm tall and 17.8mm thick. It actually wears rather comfortably despite being rather strange in overall dimensions.
Note also that the Hautlence HL2 case has an asymmetrical sapphire crystal that wraps around the left-side of the case. Yes, Hautlence designed it so that you get a better view of the slowly rotating regulator system (balance wheel and escapement) which is placed on a rotating stack. The movement is among the most interesting that come to mind and goes to the heart of the Hautlence ethos, which is dedicated to telling the time “differently.” In all, the movement is an automatic and displays the time with hours and minutes and also has a power reserve indicator.
The movement inside of the Hautlence HL2.1 watch is about as complicated as it looks, being made of 552 parts. Given all that is going on, it is impressive that it has a 45 hour power reserve. In fact, there are two barrels, with one used for powering the time telling system, and the other used to power the moving complications, such as the hour track. This latter complication is rather interesting. You’ll notice that the hour markers are placed on a tank tread style track. It doesn’t move slowly but sort of jumps. Basically, when the hour is up, the entire chain visibly moves until the new hour is in place in the window on the dial. As this tread turns, it also moves the shaft of gears that is connected to the balance wheel. With this, you get a tourbillon-style effect, in that the balance wheel is not in the same position all the time.
The movement operates at 18,000 bph and completely makes up the dial. I also like how it fully takes up the case, so there isn’t a lot of wasted room inside of the Hautlence HL2 collection. While the hours are indicated on the moving track, the minutes are represented via a retrograde hand. Under the minute indicator track is a handy power reserve indicator. On the rear of the case is a micro-rotor in 18k gold, and I think it is really cool that on top of everything, the Hautlence HL2.0 collection movements are self-winding automatics.
Wearing the Hautlence HL2.0 collection watches allows the wearer to experience a range of interesting views throughout the day. Even though the Hautlence HL2.1 – HL2.5 watches are all easily within the “super watch” category, this is one of the few super watches I would wear on a daily basis (assuming it was durable enough). In addition to the slightly curved and comfortable case, the entire system is designed for actually rather legible time telling and convenience, without a lot of weird systems that are mechanically interesting but highly inconvenient or just odd.
Before the Hautlence HL2.5, the last time Hautlence produced a black version of the Hautlence HL2.0 was the HL2.3 that was also in DLC-coated titanium. That model, however, mixed black accents with 18k pink gold ones. The Hautlence HL2.5 is a bit more “dramatic” (as Hautlence says), with its red and black colors that I happen to think are really hip. Having said that, I don’t think anything priced at $200,000 and up is “merely hip.” Oh wait, the Hautlence HL2.5 can still be “hip,” since it is priced just under $200,000!
Hautlence is proud of the three patents in the Hautlence HL2.0 collection movement family. Brands mention patents in their movements a lot. I mean, why not, right? If you have patent protection, then by all means, mention it. I wonder, however, how this fact effects desire among collectors. On the one hand, a patent doesn’t really add anything to the inherent value. On the other hand, a patent might indicate a degree of effort and time put into a movement, as well as a state of exclusivity. If elements of a movement are patented, no one else but the patent holding company can make the product.
I don’t think most collectors analyze patented elements of a new potential watch purchase as much as I am suggesting they might, but perhaps I am wrong. Has anyone been a bit more swayed to purchase a watch because elements of the movement were patented? Is this just something to state as part of a full disclosure of relevant facts, or is this something which is part of the purchase decision making process?
Each of the Hautlence HL2.1, HL2.2, HL2.3, HL2.4, and HL2.5 watches are pretty amazing to look at and wear. The fascinating movement, with its unique functionality, has a real enduring value and feels like, despite its peculiarities, it was designed to make sense. Most of the Hautlence HL2.0 watches are in titanium, but there are gold versions as well, such as the HL2.2. The Hautlence HL2.5 limited edition of 28 pieces should be available soon, at a price of $192,500. This also happens to be the same price of the Hautlence HL2.3 and HL2.4. The HL2.1 and HL2.2 watches were in 18k white gold and 18k rose gold and priced at $256,700 and $235,300, respectively. hautlence.com