The new Hautlence HL Sphere is a work of art.
I only found that out this past month when I saw Hautlence the first time in the metal. See, since a few years now I visit H. Moser & Cie during SIHH and Baselworld as well as other events. You could read about their latest creations they introduced during SIHH 2019 here and here. However, H. Moser & Cie is not the only brand the Meylan family is involved with. Our loyal readers could’ve met the name Hautlence on the pages of Fratello a few years ago. We covered some of the latest and greatest of the brand before but not as often as we should have perhaps. This is about to change: Today we will talk about the brand’s 8th manufacture caliber and the timepiece that houses it. The Hautlence HL Sphere 01 and the HTL 501-1.
Hautlence is a young brand. It entered the watch scene in 2004 three years after the initial idea of a timepiece has been planned. A year later the first caliber and the first collection arrived. The caliber was the Hautlence HL, an in-house, jumping hour movement with a retrograde minute and second indication. 2 years after the initial success of the HL a new movement and watch came to the market. A sportier range derived from the HL caliber; it was the HLC. In the next 12 years, 5 new calibers came out of Scuderia Hautlence. Finally, in 2018 we arrived at the 8th and latest movement, the aforementioned HTL 501-1. A new caliber has to have a new timepiece that will house it so for Baselwolrd 2019 Hautlence created one of the best-looking timepieces, the HL Sphere 01. A watch that takes inspiration from the first Hautlence watch.
The most striking feature of the HL Sphere 01’s case is its shape. Obviously rectangular or as the brand calls it “TV screen shape” cases have been around for decades now. If you are a fan of Hautlence you might know that albeit they have released numerous watches with round cases, rectangular was the shape of their very first model. So, with this case design, the brand goes back to the signature model’s look. It is white gold with both polished and satin finished surfaces with a striking size of 39 by 46mm but only with 12mm thickness. That is excluding the dome that is part of the crystal, so it’s all one piece. A necessity to have enough space for the titanium hour sphere that “sticks out” of the otherwise flat movement. Despite the huge case the watch sits comfortably on the wrist, fits under a cuff.
We cannot talk about the dial in a classical sense when we look at the HL Sphere 01. The front is semi-skeleton and split into two parts; the left side with the huge blue, sphere (the blue ball-shape indicator) and the right side displays the retrograde minutes. The sphere consists of two pieces of PVD treated titanium shells. They have the hours from 1 to 12 laser engraved on them with white lacquer filling for easier visibility. This sphere rotates on itself through three axes to display the correct hour. While the rotation looks random, it is actually not. There is a complicated system behind it that involves four conical gears that move around two crossed spindles curved in 21 degrees. What this means is that the sphere turns 360 + 90 degrees each time it switches to the next hour.
We are talking about the right side of the dial now. The hand travels from the 12 o’clock position down to the 6 – when the hour is over – and then jumps back to the 12. The minute track is visible alongside the dial aperture from 12 (00) to 6 (60) in 10-minute splits. The indexes are applied silver with diamond-polish. Due to the skeletonized movement, part of the gear train is clearly visible underneath the retrograde minute hand. At first glance, the HL Sphere 01’s face looks rather busy. But take a moment to understand what does what and all of a sudden, the timepiece becomes an easily readable, functional horological wonder. If we flip, it over and take a look at the satin-finished and polished white gold back framing a sapphire crystal we can get another view angle into the complexity of the HTL 501-1.
As I have already mentioned it above, the new Hautlence HTL 501-1 caliber is the 8th manufacture movement in the brand’s history. We are talking about a hand-wound mechanical movement with 38 jewels and 3-days of power reserve – thanks to that huge barrel spring that you can see at 6 on the back. The ticking speed is 21600vph. The development, the design, and production of the HTL 501-1 were all done in-house at Hautlence. It is not only visually appealing but also equipped with a safety mechanism. This would prevent damage to the caliber in case of incorrect manipulation while reverse time setting. I believe it is safe to say that the latest Hautlence caliber lives up to the expectations and offer a technical and visual indulgence to every Haute Horlogerie fanatic.
Obviously, the concept through which the time is displayed is not entirely new. Hautlence already presented it last year in form of a clock, the Hautlence HL Kinetic Table Clock. There two spheres displayed the time, one for the hours like you’d have with the HL Sphere 01 and a second one for the minutes. The watch has a limitation of 28 pieces and has a price tag of CHF99,000 Swiss Francs (about €88.000,-). The brand has really high hopes for the pierce and for a reason. It is not only a timepiece that has a fun and clever way of displaying the time. The HL Sphere 01 is also a fully in-house made Haute Horlogerie at its finest form. I truly hope that the watch will exceed its expectation and eventually find its way to the independent watchmaking’s history book.
If you wish to visit Hautlence’s website, please click here.
Balázs joined Fratello Watches in 2014 and he has been a fan of watches as long as he can remember. His passion for watches really took off in 2007 when he purchased his first fine Swiss timepiece. From 2007 up... read more