Hautlence launches the Vortex, a brand new collection from its Concept d’Exception line, with a mix of contemporary design and architectural mechanics that take us back to the heart of the brand.


A lot has happened in the decade since Hautlence launched its first watch in a historic building in the heart of Neuchâtel. I still remember the first time I saw the brand’s very first HL, a timepiece that was like nothing I had ever seen before, with a case  reminiscent of a 1950s television set and a completely new way of indicating the time with rods and cams. I remember clearly gawping at it and repeating the word “wow” over and over like a five-year-old child at Disneyland.

Since that day, many brands have joined the wave for new ways to indicate time, from the smallest and most dynamic independents to some of the largest, most established brands, making the “wow” factor harder to achieve. But last Thursday, the excitement was back on the premises of Hautence with the launch of a brand new timepiece – the Vortex.


Hautlence’s Founder and CEO, Guillaume Tétu, had the same smile on his face as he did back in 2005. Now in  larger premises in the heart of La Chaux-de-Fonds, and perhaps with a few more gray hairs than he donned before, Tétu’s presentation of the Vortex revealed that his passion for creating unique and visionary timepieces is as strong as ever.

The new Vortex has taken the brand’s HL2 movement that was launched in 2010 and turned it on its head, well perhaps not on its head, but sideways, so the timepiece is horizontal on the wrist like the very first HL models. The movement has been revised and redesigned with a new aesthetic and a number of technical improvements to the working of the watch and the bridges. The project managers,  movement designer Florian Steiner and horological prototypist Joachim Besomi, have kept the functions and the beauty of the original caliber while creating something that looks entirely new.

The hours, driven by a chain visible on the back of the watch, can be read in an aperture at eight o’clock. Every time the hour changes, the cage of the regulating organ rotates along with it, creating a magnificent animation that can be observed in the video below. The minutes are indicated on a retrograde dial on the top half of the dial and the 40-hour power reserve indicator brings a pop of color, with its red gauge, to the top right hand side of the dial.

The case of the first Concept d’Exception was designed by Tétu himself to maximize the view on the movement, but for this new collection, Tétu called upon his old friends and design consultants from Paris, Michel Berra and Ludovic Blanquer, to take a fresh look at how to dress this incredible movement. They started with a blank sheet of paper; by completely reconstructing the timepiece and building a new case with a maximum amount of sapphire crystal, they allowed for a view into every angle of the movement.

This first version comes in an extremely light titanium case and other versions are expected to follow in rose gold and black DLC. The collection is limited to 88 pieces and will be available starting in September at a price of CHF 160,000 (incl. VAT).