Hautlence HL 2.4
Angus Davies gets ‘hands-on’ with the technical tour-de-force and highly innovative, Hautlence HL 2.4, a watch which evokes smiles of appreciation on his face every time he sees its unusual form.
This detailed review of the Hautlence HL 2.4 includes live images, specification details and pricing.
The exponential growth in passenger flights over the last 30 years has been incredible. As a young boy, I first travelled on an airplane at the tender age of nine. At the time, the very notion of flying at 30,000 feet, cruising at speeds in excess of 500 miles per hour, proffered glamour and conferred huge ‘bragging rights’ on the school playground.
Today, international flight is much cheaper in ‘real terms’ and is enjoyed by the masses. Looking back, on those rare occasions the sun smiled on my native Lancashire, I remember laying down on the mowed lawn of our ‘back garden’, attired in short trousers, chewing a blade of grass and staring at the sky. I would dreamily quaffed the huge pale blue canvas, engulfing my view, lost in my thoughts. This idyllic vista was augmented with small clusters of marshmallow clouds and arrow-like white plumes, emanating from the colossal engines of a passing plane.
I recall pondering the ultimate destination of these planes. Perhaps they were flying to parts of the world, very different from my home. Indeed, the aforementioned pale blue sky seemed to represent an elusive world I desperately craved to experience.
Recently, looking at the pale blue rubber strap affixed to the neoteric Hautlence HL2.4 timepiece, I was reminded of my childhood bouts of dreamily staring at skies above. The Swiss watch company kindly offered me the opportunity to wear this stunning exemplar of brave new world haute horlogerie and within moments of association, I was once again transposed to an experience few have had the opportunity to sample.
This horological creation, with its six figure price tag, may be beyond my financial grasp, but I am still drawn to its spellbinding form and fantasise about the very notion of ownership.
Hautlence is based in the horological heartland of La Chaux-de-Fonds where streets are arranged in a grid like form to allow natural light to flood into the workshops of the small ateliers in the city. The company, led by watchmaking genius, CEO and co-founder, Guillaume Tetu was founded in 2004 and has earned a reputation for creating thought provoking timepieces.
Hautlence does not subscribe to convention, choosing to dispense with ‘normal’ hour and minute hands. However, despite adopting unusual and highly innovative ways of imparting time, the company’s timepieces do not eschew legibility and practicality.
While the HL 2.0 was the first example of the brand’s ‘Concept d’ Exception’ models, I am especially drawn to the eye-catching mien of the Hautlence HL 2.4 with its grade 5 titanium case and smatterings of pale blue detail.
The jumping hour is displayed using a 12-hour chain which turns in unison with the mobile bridge escapement, openly revealed on the left hand side of the case. The prevailing hour is shown via a partially framed area in the upper region of the rectangular shaped dial.
Hautlence has repeatedly shown a penchant for jumping hour displays as well as retrograde minute indications. In creating the HL 2.4, the company continues to uphold this tradition, albeit taking a wholly different approach. The retrograde minutes consists of an arc-like, centrally positioned scale, marked with Arabic numerals and small dots, positioned in between, indicating the 5-minute integers. When the pale blue triangular hand moves to ’60’, it springs back to ‘0’ with amazing alacrity and then recommences its clockwise path.
The Hautlence HL 2.4 employs horological showboating and, I confess, I love it. Indeed, every time I see the combination of the retrograde hand return to zero and the 12-link chain advance east, I beam like the proverbial child in a sweet shop.
A power reserve-indicator is displayed in the lower portion of the dial area. It employs a blue line, shown via an open-worked section, with the words ‘min’ and ‘max’ positioned adjacent.
The case of the Hautlence HL 2.4 measures a significant 50mm x 42mm x 17.8mm. However, the curving profile of the case, short lugs and neat crown design collaborate to accord an incredible wrist-feel, bequeathing high levels of wearer comfort. Moreover, I felt the watch appeared smaller on the wrist than the specification would suggest.
A notable aspect of the case design is the profusion of sapphire crystals. The case resembles a fish tank, conferring a spectacular view of all surfaces within. The complexity of the case construction is remarkable and has to be a major factor in the pricing of the watch.
Grade 5 titanium has been extensively used, mitigating mass. This space age material, widely used in aerospace, is super-strong but technically challenging to machine. Nevertheless, Hautlence has successfully overcome any potential obstacles and the result is a stunning appearance. Furthermore, another key benefit of grade 5 titanium is that it is hypoallergenic, underscoring, not that it is needed, the rationale for selection.
Whilst Hautlence offer the watch with a high quality black alligator strap, I personally preferred the pale blue rubber strap, paired with a titanium folding clasp.
By fitting large sapphire crystals to all surfaces, nothing is hidden from view. There are no places inferior workmanship can hide but, thankfully, everything is refined to the nth degree with absolute perfection omnipresent.
This watch houses the HL 2.0 Calibre, designed by ‘an in-house R&D team’. The manufacturing of components, draws on the expertise of various companies, local to the Swiss watch brand. The assembly and regulation of the watch takes place in the company’s own atelier.
Scrutinising the movement proves interesting with much modern technology employed. State of the art LIGA technology sits alongside time-served craftsmanship. Indeed, the specification of the in-house Calibre HL 2.0 includes blemish-free satin brush, hand-drawn movement components and matchless mirror polishing. Hautlence has delivered contemporary movement design whilst respecting fine Swiss watchmaking and the result is magnificent
If I could afford the asking price of the Hautlence HL 2.4 (see below) and had licence from my tolerant wife to acquire this watch, would I part with the necessary promissory notes? Absolutely. This is a stunning exemplar of haute horlogerie which evokes smiles of appreciation on my face every time I see its unusual form.
Today, we often talk of ‘blue-sky thinking’ when discussing examples of ingenuity and Hautlence has clearly embraced a plethora of innovative details to glorious effect in creating the Hautlence HL 2.4.
I feel privileged to be one of the rare few to have sampled the delights of the HL 2.4. However, as I think back, dreamily staring at those fortunate souls who flew in yesteryear, I ponder whether one day, I will be in the fortunate position to acquire one of these stunning watches. I very much hope so.
- Model: Hautlence HL 2.4
- Case: Grade 5 titanium; dimensions 50mm x 42mm x 17.8mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front, sides and caseback.
- Functions: Jumping hours; retrograde minutes; power-reserve indicator.
- Movement: HL 2.0 Calibre; self-winding movement; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5Hz); 92 jewels; power reserve 45 hours; 552 movement parts
- Strap: Brown and black hand-sewn rolled-edge Louisiana alligator leather, large square scale or rubber strap. Titanium folding clasp
- Price: CHF 180,000 (RRP as at 17.11.2015)
- Limited Edition: 28 pieces