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Hautlence Playground Labyrinth ‘Watch’ Is Nothing But A Fancy Ball Maze Game

Hautlence Playground Labyrinth 'Watch' Is Nothing But A Fancy Ball Maze Game Watch Releases

Hautlence‘s “teaser video” for the “Playground Labyrinth” watch is mostly a black and white closeup of their brand ambassador Eric Catona’s face looking angry/frustrated followed by about five seconds of static imagery of this piece of “wearable art.” Clearly, Mr. Catona’s reaction to the Hautlence Playground Labyrinth is akin to ours. The Hautlence Playground Labyrinth isn’t a watch, but it does have some mechanical components. It is, however, perhaps the world’s most expensive ball maze game, and you can wear it around with you.

Hautlence recently appointed a new CEO, Sandro Reginelli (who apparently is also a co-founder of the brand). Reginelli describes this Labyrinth watch as a reminder of “out-dated games he played when he visited his grandparents.” I too have brief recollections of being presented with ball maze games as a child in various forms and finding them utterly annoying. Designed to improve hand-eye coordination (I’m guessing), the ball maze game never seemed to be the old-school game favorite of anyone, and for the most part, these games endure merely because they look cool.

Hautlence Playground Labyrinth 'Watch' Is Nothing But A Fancy Ball Maze Game Watch Releases

How does the ball maze look when beautifully rendered in wrist watch form? Not bad… as some type of provocative wearable art. Though, I’d never wear it instead of an actual watch. This is like the luxury equivalent of an “ironic t-shirt,” when you want to make a statement while at the same time pissing of anyone who is even remotely conservative. Hautlence doesn’t even try to equivocate the watch with any semblance of an actual poetic point. The best they do to justify the Hautlence Playground Labyrinth watch is by stating that it is “an entirely essential yet fundamentally useless object.” I can agree with at least half of that.

Hautlence Playground Labyrinth 'Watch' Is Nothing But A Fancy Ball Maze Game Watch Releases

Hautlence, which is part of the H. Moser & Cie group, has joined its sister brand is engaging in a host of experimental marketing tactics over the last year – mostly aiming at the smartwatch market. The brands are well endowed with technical strength and can produce some excellent watches, but from our perspective, a lot of their solutions to getting buzz don’t make a lot of sense. Where they succeed in getting attention, they potentially fail in gaining exposure or esteem among those people who would actually buy their wrist watches. All I can say is that I am more than open-minded when it comes to new watches, but stuff like this gold game-on-the-wrist doesn’t really interest me much. It’s worth about three minutes of small talk conversation and then I want to focus on cool timepieces again. I am not even sure that if it told the time I would think of it much differently.

Hautlence Playground Labyrinth 'Watch' Is Nothing But A Fancy Ball Maze Game Watch Releases

Like I said, aesthetically, the Hautlence Playground Labyrinth dial is interesting. It has an artistic sense of being provocative, and it isn’t ugly. Hautlence uses their original-style case which here is offered in brushed and polished titanium being sized at 43.5mm wide, by 37mm tall, and 13mm thick. The ball maze itself is produced in either 18k rose gold (Labyrinth 01 model) or white gold (Labyrinth 02 model). On the 18k white gold maze version, the ball itself is in 18k rose gold, and on the rose gold maze, the ball is solid platinum.

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Is there a mechanical element to the Hautlence Playground Labyrinth? Yes, actually. If you notice, there are two small holes on the dial. One hole is where the ball enters, and one is where the ball exits. When you “beat” the game, the ball leaves the dial, and you use the crown to activate a small “mechanical lift” to bring it back to the dial. Both the dial and “movement” are given hand-decoration and finishing such as edge beveling (chamfering) and polishing. Attached to the cases are alligator straps.

Hautlence Playground Labyrinth 'Watch' Is Nothing But A Fancy Ball Maze Game Watch Releases

For those with big budgets and a penchant for “ironic art,” the Hautlence Playground Labyrinth will be a fine addition to their art collections. They can even wear the watches from time to time to the chagrin of pretty much anyone who cares about watches. The art and design crowd might be a bit more forgiving, and this type of “high-end creativity” appears to be valued in certain circles who have apparently become bored with traditional art and that value temporary shock and awe. I’m really not judging here, but rather indicating that while a particular group of art lovers find value in items like this, such designs and concepts do have the effect of alienating a lot of people who specifically find interest in mechanical watches because of their core utilitarian value.

Eric Catona and I can lament the Hautlence Playground Labyrinth watch in the future while appreciating some of the more horological items Hautlence has to offer. For those keen on this “whimsical luxury bracelet,” the Hautlence Playground Labyrinth 01 and 02 watches will each be part of a limited edition of 18 watches (36 total), with a price of 12,000 Swiss francs each. hautlence.com

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Comments

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  • frauss

    Is it hand-winding or automatic? Needs a tourbillion too.

    • Boogur T. Wang

      …and maybe lasers.

  • Ulysses31

    I propose changing the company name to “Flatulence”.

    • David Williams

      Ha, yes – with a methane release valve on every watch!

  • iamcalledryan

    This “whimsical luxury bracelet” made me laugh on a Monday morning!

  • SuperStrapper

    Christophe Claret would have done this much better.

  • IanE

    No wonder Cantona was bemused: I bet he was expecting a wrist-football watch! I suppose this is more functional than that ‘watch’ with a non-see-through sapphire: otherwise it is hard to recommend the object.

    • iamcalledryan

      They better be working on the wrist-foosball mechanism featuring two crowns on either side to operate the players!

  • word-merchant

    I can read the time ok on this watch (21:52:17) but the absence of a date ball makes this a non-starter for most people. And it’s no good for blind people either.

  • Roman

    Such a cool doodad for demonstrating owner’s infantilism.

  • Not to be outdone, Richard Mille quickly followed up with an announcement of their Triple Tourbillion Cup and Ball Edition. Rafael Nadal has already had the string break on two of them.

  • Alistair Russell

    Isn’t this post about 18 days early?

  • cg

    Succeed once and you’re done!

  • Spangles

    The font used for Hautlence completely ruins it for me.

    Why couldn’t this be 33mm, the only real size for a man’s watch.

    At least there’s no date function, thanks god.

  • WINKS

    CaNtona. Not Catona.

  • Shinytoys

    That’s an expensive maze you have there fellas…

  • GalaxyGuy

    Really?

  • Larry Holmack

    What the…….????

  • funNactive

    I’ll give you $25 for the game.

  • ZBT71

    I seriously considered buying this “watch” but since it doesn’t have a date window and the lines of the maze are not symmetrical I couldn’t wear it.

  • IanE

    Well, nobody’s said it yet, so … truly amazing!

  • Tyler Donley

    this is just being ostentatious to the umpteenth degree…If they were thinking clearly, they would have made this a table top game in the same vein as what MB&F does with their M.A.D. collection mechanical art.

    • Tyler Donley

      oh btw, this is coming from someone who is a huge fan of Hautlence. Just not this.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    More like horological flatulence.

  • Bruce

    This is something I’d find very interesting and entertaining for about…. five minutes.

  • Mike Darwin Brown

    Wow, another new way to tell the time by this out of the box brand, Then I started to read…….what a let down! Pretty insulting…..

  • Antjay

    Lume ?

  • Mark Baran

    Does the H. Moser & Cie group have stockholders or investors? If I were one of the latter, I’d be screaming at someone about the material and labor resources that went into this project.

  • pkansa

    Wow – is this for when you get tired of simply lighting your money on fire, and instead want a memento of that? Hmm, there’s an idea – let’s get Artya to come up with a watch based on the compressed ashes of burned cash….

  • Jeff

    Makes about as much sense as the Romain Jerome Tourbillon that didn’t tell time.

    • Crunch Black

      Touche! Well said buddy!

  • Tanj

    Just because you can strap something to your wrist doesn’t make it a watch.

  • Sevenmack

    Can’t get too wound up about this “watch”. After all, Pierre Jaquet-Droz made expensive, non-essential automatons that didn’t tell time, either. That said, a maze is no one’s idea of fun. A wrist-size pinball machine or arcade game, on the other hand, would be, the latter of which could be achieved by any smartwatch.

    • Crunch Black

      At least Jacques Droz create serious fancy timepieces! I would call their watches 90% art and the rest on exquisite wearable art. Horological porn as its finest! Ha ha!

  • Crunch Black

    This is just pure unadulterated bollocks at its finest. I might as well burn a bunch of 50 buck notes. At least this would warm the cockles of my fucking heart up! First, Eric gives dispenses some nicely directed beer adverts, then he fucking flips with these Hautlence guys – and gets paid for it! Nice work if you can get this! A fucking own goal – I call it!

  • Martin Cerny

    Honestly, I like the gadget. But they made one mistake being to GREDDY. To sell for 12k. They should have made a unique piece just for fun. Instead they created a stupid gadget for more stupid people.