Last month Robert-Jan returned from the impressive Hautlence VORTEX presentation, that took place at the Hautlence headquarters and brought me back the new Invictus 03 for a review. I only knew the watch from the first model, the Invictus ‘Morphos’ that was designed by Guillaume Tetu together with the famous sportsman & artist Éric Cantona. But I only had seen and handled that model briefly during the presentation last year. The ‘Morphos’ with its bright blue wings on the dial is a real eye catcher, but a bit too flashy to my liking.
The new INVICTUS 03 is in fact the same watch, but with a complete different look, due to the DLC coated case and the open worked honey comb dial.
The honey comb dial, almost a trade mark of Hautlence, was first seen on their titanium HLti01. It gives the watch a more high tech image, what I like a lot for a sport watch. And a sport watch it is, in every aspect! Since 2004, the year the brand was found, Hautlence makes their calibers In House. That was Hautlence’s philosophy since the brand was established and since the first HL models were presented. Of course an aspire like that, also has its downside, especially for younger collectors and that’s the price. Last year Hautlence changed their original idea of using only In House produced calibers and decided to launch the friendly priced ‘Destination’, a watch that was powered with a modificated automatic Soprod A10 caliber. Following that concept, the INVICTUS was designed and powered with a skeletonised Dubois Dépraz chronograph on a Soprod A10 base caliber, that is partially visible through the opening in the right part of the dial.
One can actually look deep into the movement. The triple date window is very clear and Hautlence choose to show every other date, to make it look less cramped. (The date in the picture above is the 24th). It was Hautlence’s aim to come up with a more affordable sports watch, build to take with you to the gym, games, rally’s or where ever your action takes you.
The Invictus 03 is a time piece that doesn’t need to be treated with care. It can withstand a rougher and sporty life style easily. The DLC coating is extremely durable and can not be compared to PVD coatings that do come off at the edges easily. When the trend for black watches started and Panerai was the for runner, their watches were the first ones that were PVD coated. After some years a certain wear on the sides was visible. Which is no problem in the case of Panerai, since it gave the watches a nice worn and vintage look. But when the black is meant to stay on, ADLC or DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) is the way to go, it has proven its quality. The Hautlence ‘Destination’ model for instance, is available with a DLC coating and also many other brands are using DLC for their coatings, when durability is required.
I have been wearing the INVICTUS 03 for almost a month and when I received the watch I was a wondering how it would fit my 18cm wrist. After all the case is 42 x 49mm, so not a small watch. But as the ‘Destination’ series and the ‘HL ‘series, the case of the Invictus is TV shaped; the width is wider, than its height and that makes all the difference. It made the watch fit surprisingly well on my wrist. Since 7 years I am wearing a white gold HL-05 myself. A watch that is a bit smaller than the INVICTUS, but due to the heavy weight of its 18K case, the watch moves easier on the wrist than the INVICTUS. To let the INVICTUS sit well and stable on the wrist, it is not necessary to strap it on as tight, as I do with the gold HL05.
Add the light weight of the titanium case to the comfortable horizontal shape of the watchcase and it becomes clear that the INVICTUS 03 is a large, but very comfortable watch, that wears in many cases a lot easier and is less bulky, than round 45 and 47mm sports watches watches are. Compared to the traditional, smaller build HL series, where I am used to, the fit feels as good, although the height of the Invictus case is somewhat higher than the HL series, due to the chronograph complication, that needs a bit more height. I am convinced that Hautlence managed to make a really good case for the INVICTUS and I am sure we will see this case coming back in future collections more often, and may be with other complications.
The INVICTUS 03 comes with a thick black horn back crocodile leather strap with orange topstitching, matching the orange used on the dial for the markers and the hands and a steel deployent clasp, that is very easily to adjust.
More information: www.hautlence.com
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