Hautlence is a brand that has made its name on watches that balance the oft-precarious line between avant-garde timekeeping displays, an innovative use of materials, and more traditional horological sensibilities. At the SIHH fair back in January, the 14-year old brand added two updates to the brand’s Vortex lineup that straddled the difference seamlessly.
The first thing you notice about the Vortex Gamma Magma is its bright-orange, highly-faceted design. The color is achieved through the use of HLLightColor, an interesting material borrowed from the automotive and aerospace industries that can take on any sort of hue. HLLightColor is created using ceramic nanotube particles and is four times lighter than titanium. It also has a higher tolerance than most other materials allowing complex finishing operations such as alternating brushed, polished, and sandblasted surfaces. The watch’s case is made from six three-dimensional sapphire crystals.
The team at Hautlence says that the watch is inspired by the 1982 film Tron. Directed by Steven Lisberger, the science-fiction film was praised for its groundbreaking visuals when it was first released and quickly gained a cult following. Hautlence envisions something similar happening with the Vortex lineup: The architectural lines, experimental use of materials, and stylized aesthetic are all hoping to inspire future watchmakers and shift the tone of watch design rhetoric into a more radical arena.
Building on the Tron influence, Hautlence also introduced the Vortex Gamma Tron. It uses the same HLLightColor as the Magma, but it highlights a different application of the material: phosphorescence. When the lights go out, the angular watch glows a bright blue, similar to lume, yet much more intense.
Both watches use a retrograde minute complication to tell the time. If you look at the dial, you can see that it is made from almost entirely transparent sapphire, offering a view into the HL2.0 self- winding caliber. Every 60 minutes, one of the 12 articulated links in the hour chain adjusts to show the next hour. The regulating organ is integrated into the mobile bridge-type caliber, with the change in position actuated by the display improving accuracy by offsetting the effects of gravity. The movement has two barrels. The second barrel, dedicated exclusively to driving the complication, is continually reset by the main barrel so that the optimal level of energy is available each time the hour changes. This double barrel system ensures the complex mechanisms are supplied independently, without affecting the ability of the watch to keep accurate time. Both watches are priced at 170,000 CHF, approximately $179,419 USD at the time of publishing.