It’s Crystal Clear – Carl Eady reviews the Hautlence Moebius.
At Baselworld 2017, Carl Eady caught up with Sandro Reginelli, Hautlence’s energetic and charismatic CEO and co-founder. Among several incredible pieces at the annual watch fair, the Hautlence Moebius stood out as one of the most unique and eye-catching timepieces.
The Swiss watch brand ‘Hautlence’ has built a reputation for challenging the horological norm in every way possible. Even the Hautlence name is a respectful, albeit playful, anagram of Neuchâtel, the Swiss city synonymous with watchmaking. The brand’s relatively short existence has been punctuated by designs with such fascinating architecture they defy categorisation. The Moebius is the latest iteration in the brands Concepts D’Exception collection which has been delighting the world’s collectors and journalists since 2004.
The size of the Moebius case is towards the larger end of the spectrum, though pleasingly proportioned once on the wrist. From every angle, the HL2.0 movement is a technical marvel and, in particular, the double tourbillon is mesmerising. To give the wearer a near perfect panoramic vista, it is housed in a tube-shaped crystal which is fashioned from a single sapphire block. Reginelli openly acknowledges the intense challenges in finishing a case like this. The man hours required to eliminate imperfections and achieve distortion free clarity around the curves are vastly disproportionate to any previous Hautlence project. The reward for such endeavour is purity itself and the only credible housing for such a refined movement.
The end caps, also in sapphire, significantly amplify how much light enters the crystal chamber.
They are finished with an intriguing double layer honeycomb motif which has been laser engraved into the crystal, adding to the technical aura of the Moebius.
A large crown, adorned with the Hautlence logo, sits at 12 o’clock and is easily accessible for hand winding or time adjustment. Between the crown and the minute arc, the Hautlence name is boldly displayed on a transparent banner spanning the width of the crystal case
Perfectly polished cradle bars (in white or red gold) are appropriately minimalistic and provide an elegant frame for the masterpiece within.
What’s on Display
The display on the Hautlence Moebius has a highly technical appearance given that only hours, minutes and power reserve are communicated. The way Hautlence conveys these complications is both original and outstanding. The centrepiece of the display is a jet-black ‘latticed’ minute arc with the numerals coated in bright Super-LumiNova®. The simple retrograde minute indicator emanates from a central cap adorned with the Hautlence ‘infinity’ insignia. Upon every hour transition, the cap bursts into life, spinning rapidly 48 times. This stunning effect is in direct contrast to the measured calmness of the actual hour transition. The minute pointer is rhodium plated and Super-LumiNova® coated for high visibility in the darker hours.
To display the hours, Hautlence uses a patented ‘half-trailing’ 12 link chain running vertically at the left side of the minute arc. The silvered hour numerals transition with effortless grace. The process is controlled by a speed regulator and takes 3-4 seconds as the hour indicator aligns to a vibrant red triangle at the base of the minute arc.
To the right of the minute arc, the power reserve is indicated by a simple crimson tipped lever. The Hautlence Moebius is a direct derivative of the Vortex models in which the power reserve ‘Min’ and ‘Max’ markers are boldly displayed. The removal of these from the Moebius display adds further clarity to the dial estate.
The reverse is also highly attractive. The hour links are visible, as is a small brushed numbering plate above centre – ready to be engraved before passing on to one of sixteen lucky recipients. In the centre is a medium sized ‘hollowed’ 18-carat white gold oscillating weight, proudly decorated with the Hautlence name.
By adopting a single crystal casing, the view of the reverse is a continuation of a near perfect window into the HL2.0 movement.
The HL2.0 is now in its 6th year and Hautlence would openly admit that this is more a case of evolution than revolution. Initially presented as portrait pieces in the ‘Concepts D’Exception’ collection, it is arguably now more at ease and balanced in the landscaped architecture of the Vortex and Moebius pieces.
In the HL2.0, twin barrels separately power the Moebius for 45 hours, running at a 3Hz frequency. One barrel powers the movement and the other drives the key complications. The use of this two-barrel system, patented by Hautlence, ensures that the independent powering of the complex mechanisms will not compromise the accuracy of the watch.
Constructed from 552 parts, the movement is a highly intricate construction, especially given the relatively few complications exhibited. However, complexity coupled with originality and outrageous design are rich attributes in the Hautlence DNA. The Moebius is the culmination of 13 years of ‘norm challenging’ horology and a truly unique feat of Swiss engineering.
Mesmerising in its beauty and sophistication, the calmness of the movement’s measured rotations presents a stark contrast to the frantic industry of the tourbillon mechanism within.
Rather than ‘jumping’ each hour, as in previous iterations, the bi-axial tourbillon of the Hautlence Moebius rotates on a continuous unbroken journey. The tourbillon’s main axis completes a full rotation in 90 seconds, with the secondary axis rotating every 40 seconds. This combination ensures a perpetual refresh of the dial estate.
Hautlence has achieved its objective for the movement to appear in suspension and thanks to the curvature of the case, it can be truly enjoyed from any angle, albeit by a very lucky few.
The Hautlence Moebius, although not a heavy timepiece, has a large case at 52mm wide, 50mm height and 18mm depth. With such sizeable proportions, and a considerable price tag to match, only the highest quality strap should be trusted. A hand stitched jet-black alligator strap with folding titanium clasp is a comfortable and luxurious accompaniment to this extravagant timepiece.
Since 2004, Hautlence has built an enviable reputation for creating timepieces of unique architecture. The Moebius is no exception and is perhaps the company’s finest creation to date.
To even imagine housing the HL2.0 movement in a single crystal tubular case is both outlandish and inspired. The desire for flawlessness, and the perseverance required to achieve this uninterrupted distortion free window, can only be described as perfectionism.
This iteration of the HL2.0 movement is also extraordinary in its execution and will certainly delight the ’purists’. When coupled with the radical yet playful display of the retrograde arc minutes and chain link hours, the finished Hautlence Moebius is nothing short of breathtaking.
Calibre – HL2.0 automatic
Power reserve: 45hr
Glass / Case – Tube shaped sapphire crystal, crystal caps and choice of 18k white or 18k red gold case borders
Case size – 52mm width, 50mm height and 18mm depth
Weight – 120g
Water Resistance – 3 ATM
Band – Alligator strap with titanium clasp
Limited Edition – 8 White Gold / 8 Red Gold
Price – 240,000 CHF