I’ve been looking forward to sharing this with you ever since I accidentally caught a first glimpse of it during Baselworld a few months ago: Say hello to the Hautlence Vortex HLR2.0, the brand’s latest addition to the “Concept d’Exception” line.


Ever since being acquired by MELB Holding in 2012 (you can read my interview from last year with George-Henri Meylan here), Hautlence has been busy strengthening its core collection and bringing more accessible (or as affordable as an independent, alternative high-end brand can get) pieces such as the Destination dual-time and Invictus chornograph. One segment that has been neglected however is the super-complicated, talking piece kind of watches that most brands in this segment So far Hautlence have only produced one such watch, HL2.0 and its subsequent cosmetic variations that was first introduced back in 2011. And now, finally, we have the Vortex HLR2.0.



Speaking of, does the Vortex remind of you anything? It should, as it houses the same movement as the HL2, but rotated 90 degrees anticlockwise. Save for a few cosmetic changes and adaptations, namely in the dial side bridges, the triple-patented movement is essentially the same, with its unique half-trailing hours, 180 degrees retrograde minutes, regulating organ in a cage that rotates 60 degrees every 60 minutes, and of course automatic winding and a power reserve indication. What has changed is the overall look and feel of the movement.





The angular case, crafted in polished grade 5 titanium, was designed in collaboration with Parisian design firm BBDC (Berra Blanquer Design Consultants), who took inspiration from geometric, modern architecture. There’s definitely something retro-futuristic about it, especially the sides with the two sloped sapphire windows. It’s different enough to stand out without being too much.






As far as the dial goes, Hautlence have gone for a flatter and more achromatic look than its older sibling the HL2.0. There’s almost a digital analog look to it, with the hour indication window and balanced minutes semi-circle, both in white Super-Luminova. A nice touch is the metallized sapphire glass dial plate that goes from smoky to mirror-like depending on the lighting. While I would argue that the HL2.0 is a bit more legible because of the size of the hour numerals as well as the contrasting colors, there’s a more intuitive quality about the Vortex.




So, is it fair to call the Hautlence Vortex a truly new watch? or is it just a way of reissuing what was already a unique movement in an execution with potentially wider appeal ? I do believe that the original HL2 series first released in 2010 is one of the more overlooked concept pieces of experimental watchmaking. In my book, the HL2 was and remains a horological sleeper hit. But as much as I love avant-garde timepieces, I can understand that for some it might have been a bit too much. Indeed, the Vortex is a far tamer mechanical beast, with a more inconspicuous type of appeal. And if the different cosmetics can bring this stellar movement to a wider audience and perhaps a different kind of customer altogether then I’m all for it.

Limited to 88 pieces at the price of CHF 160’000 (Swiss Francs), the first deliveries of the Hautlence Vortex are expected in September.

More information on www.hautlence.com