Last week I traveled to La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland to witness the pre-introduction of the Hautlence Vortex. Founder & CEO Guillaume Tetu did the introduction of the Hautlence Vortex in front of a small group of watch journalists and showed us the workshops where the watch makers are working on Hautlence timepieces. Hautlence is a small independent watchmaker that gained a lot of respect from watch collectors all over the world with their Concepts d’Exception timepieces with HL2.x movements.
The new Vortex also belongs to the Concepts d’Exception collection and the movement is based on the HL2.0 movement.The typical construction of the chain for the indication of the hours and the retrograde for the minutes remains the basis for the Vortex timepiece. Although I will surely talk about the design of the Vortex in this article, the watch is definitely built around its caliber HLR2.0 movement. The movement is angled at 90 degrees (having the winding and setting crown at 12 o’clock) and the escapement is shown at 6 o’clock. The escapement mechanism rotates 60 degrees every 60 minutes. The movie in this article will demonstrate that effect.
Although I am aware of the fact that Hautlence put a lot of effort into the design of the Vortex, as they teamed up with BBDC (Berra Blanquer Design Consultants) from Paris, I would say they ‘enriched’ the experience of being able to look at the movements from as many angles as possible. Upon closer inspection though, the design of the Hautlence Vortex is really the work of geniuses. The entire front and back side are clearly visible through the sapphire crystals. Especially the front crystal, with its 138 degrees angle at 6 o’clock to give you a superb view on the rotating escapement mechanism.
The case of the Hautlence Vortex has been clearly inspired by architectural designs and in the video below both designers (Michel Berra and Ludovic Blanquer) give a bit of explanation about this ‘project’.
The dial shows the jumping hours, the retrograde minutes and the power reserve of the movement. The chain with the 12 digits for the jumping hours can be seen through the dark but transparent crystal (semi-opaque metallization). The hour markers and minute hand have been applied with Super LumiNova.
The back side of the Hautlence Vortex shows the HLR2.0 movement in full effect. This movement, consisting of 552 components, has an 18-carat white gold rotor in which the caliber number and the limited edition number is engraved. A power reserve over +40 hours doesn’t seem to be much these days, but since it is a self-winding movement, it doesn’t need to be more, really. It will start winding again as soon as you put it on your wrist, unlike hand-wound movements of course. That said, I guess the power reserve indicator doesn’t have a real function on automatic watches, but it looks very nice and well-balanced on the Hautlence Vortex’ dial nevertheless. Master watchmaker Joachim Besomo (known from his work on the Ulysse Nardin Freak and Chopard’s L.U.C. movements) is responsible for the HLR2.0 movement of the Hautlence Vortex.
Although the Hautlence Vortex is by no means a small watch with its 52 x 50 x 17.8 mm dimensions, it wears surprisingly comfortable. Now I don’t have really big wrists, and prefer my round watches not to exceed 44 mm, this square shaped 52 x 50 mm case felt just fine. The crown is – as mentioned and shown – located at 12 o’clock, which also influences the perception of how large this case really is. The case is made of titanium (Grade-5) and bears 6 sapphire crystals in total. The total weight of the watch is 120 grams.
The crown is very easy to grasp and use. Although it is recommend to always take your watch off your wrist for winding and setting purposes, you really have to with the Hautlence Vortex. The back side (as shown below) allows you to really grab the crown using your finger nails.
More information via the official Hautlence website.
All images can be clicked for larger versions. More images can be found below.