Reinterpreting time the Hautlence way

Sep 21, 2016
Sandro Reginelli
Sandro Reginelli

One of the showstoppers at the Baselworld 2016 was Hautlence’s latest offering, a wristwatch that does not tell time, but offers a disconnect from it. While it seems that the Bronze Age is back in fashion, at least in the world of watches, Hautlence has something just right for the season – its Vortex Bronze

Playing games ­– either through words or a creative rendering of time – seems to be the forte of Hautlence, considering the fact that the brand’s name itself is an anagram of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, which was the original home to the brand. Hautlence, which began in 2004, with the memorable tag line, Cross the line, has a number of impressive collections such as the HL, HLR, the Tourbillon, Invictus, Destination and Vortex. Sandro Reginelli, CEO of Hautlence, in an exclusive interview with “Day & Night” explains the reasoning behind the brand’s high-impact products.

Can you tell us about your recent collaboration with Vida Loca?

One of our senior watchmakers was in touch with the owner of Vida Loca, a well-known bike customising company in Switzerland, who wanted to buy a Hautlence. He went through our collection and loved the Invictus collection with the Chronograph. We proposed to customise a watch for him, with his company’s logo of an engraved silver skull in the middle of the dial. It was beautifully executed; he was very impressed and wanted us to make more for his club members. So, we now have it as a limited edition of 28 pieces. His club members will get first priority, but it is also open to others and is priced at CHF21,700.

How is the response for the Vortex Primary that you launched in Geneva recently?

The response has been amazing. We have a unique collaboration with Eric Cantona. He is so creative and had this very out-of-the-box idea. The Vortex is made of crystal and you can see the inner workings of the watch. Cantona came up with the idea of playing with the primary colours and giving the wearer the option to choose the colour he wants, depending on the angle of the watch. This is an amazing approach and it is a limited edition of 18 pieces, of which 12 are already sold and we expect to sell the rest soon.

Can you tell us about the new Vortex that you are now launching?

The Vortex has a HL2 movement; we decided to introduce this Vortex in July last year with a totally new case design, where you can view the architecture of the watch – you can see all the parts working together from all sides of the watch. We have all these particle pieces, because we wanted to add even more complexity in the movement and have only sapphire crystal as a dial. To add to the exclusivity of the watch, we decided to house it in bronze, which we have never used before. This gives a rich patina to the watch and is really nice – the whole rounded off with leather, which also has a rich sheen, thus giving a unique look. This, coupled with the fact that you can see the full internal workings of the watch, makes it a great piece. The reception for this watch has been very good. It is a limited edition of eight pieces of which three are already sold. We will, of course, bring out this watch in other metals. We also have a number of other ideas.

Can you elaborate on another new launch of yours that has created so much hype at the Baselworld – the Labyrinth?

The Labyrinth is an incredible project, especially given the fact that we started this project less than four weeks ago. I joined the company in December. As you may be aware, I was a co-founder with Guillaume Tetu and a few other friends, was an investor and part of the board until 2012. When I came back in December, I saw the potential of taking over this brand – with its products, brand positioning and our unique tagline: Cross the line. In 2004, when we began this company, we were one of the first companies that crossed the line by showing time in a different way. I told my creative team that we need to again bring out products that cross the line. We were just brainstorming and I came up with the idea of a game; of rethinking the vision of time.

Nowadays, when people are always connected, we need to think of a way that allows them to disconnect and give themselves some quality time. So, we decided to create a mechanical game that allows the wearer the opportunity to disconnect for a time. This is not a digital game or one you play on Apple; it is a traditional game. The labyrinth is something that I used to play 30 years ago in my grandparents’ house and was one of my favourites. It also has an underlying philosophy: If you want to completely disconnect, you need to go into the labyrinth of your mind and rethink your priorities. We wanted to bring this traditional game to the wristwatch and this is not a one-off product.

We call this range the Playground and Labyrinth is the first product. It has one limited edition of 18 pieces with a dial in red gold and a platinum ball, while another limited edition of 18 pieces has a dial of white gold with a red gold ball. Once the ball goes down one of the holes in the dial, you can bring the ball back up to the dial by using this mechanism that we have decorated like a movement, so that it has nine rubies that control the mechanical lift.  This is the beginning of a collection that interprets time through old games and you can expect us to bring out more periodically.

Where do you see the brand in ten years?

We will continue on a path of reinterpreting time in a different way. We will also continue to create spectacular products that keep traditional time, but in a contemporary manner. We will also try to impress people by working with all the elements. Right now, we are a product; we need to become a brand. We need to have a certain substance and style. That is why, next year, we will relaunch the HL collection.