News December 2007

In 2004, creation of the brand Hautlence – anagram of their hometown Neuchâtel – by launching a first in-house movement called HL. Everybody at Hautlence share a view of the future of watchmaking in the third millennium that takes traditional technology and shoves it outside the box for a while. The first steps reveal a motivation to enrich technology and give a free rein to exceptional talent.

Hautlence HLS “Mecanical Spirite”

Hautlence presents its new interpretation of time
with the HLS

The Watch Quote™ - December 10th, 2007

In 2007, Hautlence is creating its own workshop…

and in parallel is presenting its 2nd collection on the same basis movement; the HLS. This is another interpretation of a strong and unique concept that is still radical.

The Design

Design (dizajn, dezajn) v. 1965: English word, drawing, plan, and sketch.

Industrial esthetic applied to the research of new forms and adapted to their function (for the utilitarian objects).

The design for Hautlence with the HLS

An esthetics for the mechanics of the movement:
  • Design research applied to the movement with an innovating way of telling time and the beautiful mechanics put aside.

  • Design research applied to the look with the valorization of the movement and its evolutions, and its ergonomics way to wear it on the wrist.

Soft and aggressive, elegant and original, futuristic and provocative in its design, a synthesis of art and advanced technology; The HLS travels along the boundary where beauty and strength merge together forming something special.

This is the maximum expression of a search for technical-aesthetic-functional detail with a more radical aesthetics.

The result is an extraordinary and very personal object of desire with its own history.

To be produced in a strictly limited edition of 9 models; each one produced to 88 completely hand-made timepieces, the HLS reflects Hautlence's philosophy: the stubborn rigour in the search for visual and technical perfection and originality in every detail.

Originality and functionality are the dominant themes of the Hautlence HLS, underlined by the generous use of titanium, white gold, pink gold, alligator straps and rubber bands.

Symbolic of the brand this watch is equipped with a manual winding regulator movement developed by Hautlence. The basic movement starts with a Peseux 7001, a dependable manual wind caliber that exhibits good torque and vibrates at 3 Hertz. But only 30 per cent of this is retained. Despite the searing modernism of their watches, traditional watchmaking values and quality are of enormous importance to Hautlence. Major components including the balance are made by Hautlence in collaboration with their technical partners. Parts like the large conspicuous gear wheel driving the jump hour disc and placed directly within it are crafted using high tech LIGA, a combination of photolithography and electroplating that results in parts with near perfect tolerances.

The dimensions of this large and slightly domed piece are 43.5 mm in length, 43.5 mm in height, and 12 mm thickness. At first glance, one sees the mechanical genes of the watch, in the form of an unusual array of rods driving the hour disc. But in this genetic sequence, the codes have been carefully revisited and transfigured into a very contemporary style.

The originality of reading the time lies in the double device of a jumping hour coupled with a retrograde minute display. The small seconds hand is in a little dial at 5 o’clock. The intriguing rods, evocative of yesterday’s trains, drive the jumping hour. When the minute hand reaches 60 minutes, a device activated by a central spiral causes the end of the rod to arm a small spring with an inertia block that, in turn, drives the rotation of the hour disc.

The balance makes 21,600 bph. Forty hours of power reserve and twenty-two jewels complete the list of the timepiece’s most vital statistics.

By artistically fusing the time telling indications and the watch’s regulating organ the watch is transformed into a form of kinetic performance art, drawing you into its sphere of influence. Similarly the 0, 20, 40, and 60 o’clock indices of the watch are hand-fixed on a specific « réhaut », toying with your sense of perception.

Water resistant to 50 meters and available in mixes of titanium, 18-karat rose, white gold.

Hautlence also respects the traditions of high watchmaking. Take a look at the back of a Hautlence watch and you’ll discover the decoration of the signature base plate with brilliant polished angles. The sapphire crystal secured with screws reveals the watch’s workings, and a small plate identifies and numbers the timepiece.

Another testament to Hautlence’s exceptional value is their dedication to customer service. “We will offer three years of warranty,” says Tetu. “When we service the watch, we will replace any part that has been changed or optimized in our ongoing development of the movement. We are a new brand and our legitimacy is based on how high our quality and how good our service can be.”

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Model available in Paris at Arije's and Chronopassion

Hautlence HLS08

Technical data

HL manufacture’s own calibre:Hand-winding mechanical movement
Power reserve 40 hours
Jumping hours, retrograde minutes linked with a patented system of connecting-rods.
Case:Waterproof 5ATM
Case band & back: Ti2
Crown : Steel/DLC
Bezel & Bumpers : Sandblasted base with DLC treatment
Bezel “Rehaut”: Ti2, 6-12 satin finish, Hand angled, dark grey PVD
Screws: Ti5

Neuchâtel, the historic capital

Neuchâtel, the historic capital of the land of watchmaking, has a tradition of precision and innovation. The surrounding area has accrued a great deal of experience, which has contributed to Neuchâtel’s reputation for quality, in terms of advanced technology & authentic craftsmanship making the world of manufacturing procedures a unique & passionate play field for Hautlence.

Neuchâtel is the true cradle of modern watchmaking.

This is where we were meant to be.

In its constant search for identity and performance, the new brand has decided to unite its destiny with the capital by taking an anagram of Neuchâtel for its name – Hautlence.

The men

Whether from the world of watchmaking or other precision industries, these enthusiasts have joined forces and come together to create a brand and develop products that conform to a shared philosophy of watchmaking.

Hautlence came into being on the initiative of Renaud de Retz, Guillaume Tetu and Jean Plazenet. In running the company, these three men combine creativity and watchmaking know-how with extensive industrial and managerial experience.

Active shareholders Jean-Christophe Chopin and Alain de Forges provide these managers with their entrepreneurial experience and their passion in addition to their long-term financial support.

Everyone benefits from the diversity and richness of this human environment.

The signature

A strong sign was needed to symbolise this collection, and those to come. We decided on the Möbius band; a mysterious object, one continuous surface, evoking the mathematical sign of infinity, the sign of everlasting time without beginning or end.

We have stylised and modified this sign to make it the brand logo, and to best represent the Möbius band.

Conception & development

It is the encounter of strong ideas about new approaches to time display and the exploration of mechanical conceptions that can be associated with time display that gave shape to the Hautlence project. A shared achievement of the managers and their teams.

Their various sensibilities and know-how are all reflected in this project.

Awareness of modern aspirations and the history of watch products; mastery and understanding of the possible benefits of design programmes and computer simulation tools in order to bring the first pencil sketches to life; experience in determining the feasibility of creating a design in terms of materials, means of manufacturing and manpower…

All this together makes it such that our projects are always consistent.

We approach general conception directly in Computer Aided Design (CAD), and finalize dynamic simulation on the computer. The results obtained allow us to refine the conception. During these stages, we consult the watchmaking masters and specialists associated with our company. They participate in the creation until the details of the study can be handed over to outside sources to compile a fabrication file. In manufacturing the pieces and mounting the watch, this file alone is used to determine the appropriate tolerances and geometric reserves for its assembly and adjustment.

Synthesis images allow the brand to express its desires and choices. The creation of prototypes allows for a concrete assessment of the physical emotion of the product. Regardless of the quality of the virtual images, this step constitutes the moment of truth in terms of aesthetic quality.

When it comes to manufacturing each type of component, the very best specialists produce the pieces for the prototypes, which are then given to a watchmaking master for assembly. Then, the testing period can begin.

The innovative character of the mechanism of the Hautlence watch required an in-house doctor of mechanics to develop original measurement mechanisms and tests. This doctor then proceeded to conduct tests on the torque settings, wear and shock resistance of the prototypes.

This specialised in-house mastery with high added intellectual value accounts for our company’s short development times.

The movement

The features of the watch, as well as the desires of the brand’s creators, made for a strong case for the company to develop its own movement.

For example, the guided linear bearings of the connecting rod assembly, the inertia block of the jumping hour directly integrated into the bottom plate, and the different time-display levels are not compatible with the simple addition of a complication board to a standard calibre.

That said, the gear trains we use are derivatives of a calibre renowned for its superior quality and are a guarantee of excellence when it comes to the watch’s traditional pieces.

All the pieces are made according to technical drawings and in very limited series on premium machines with digital controls. The pieces account for over 150 components. Quality of finish, the production of extremely precise adjustments, assembly and regulation, however, cannot be accomplished without the help of humans; namely, craftsmen with a unique know-how.

To highlight the general shape of the bridges, bottom plates, springs and rods, their visible contours are set an angle. This means that the edges are crafted by hand to form a fine shiny thread underlining the details of the components. In all, there are over 40 pieces per movement that pass through the expert hands of these craftsmen, religiously hunched over their lathes or their files and smoothers…

Although the “Côtes de Genève” adorning the visible surface of the bridges are made in other workshops, they are always made in the tradition of the art of watchmaking. Fine concentric or linear “perlages” are associated with these decorations on numerous and miniscule pieces. Aside from their decorative aspect, these traditional operations improve the mechanics, the quality of the assembly and the protection of the surface. After the machine work has been completed, numerous hours are required to put the final touches on the pieces. Their surfaces are then treated, leaving them shiny and hard-wearing.

Beyond aesthetic research and casing, Hautlence applies its watchmaking creativity in the mechanism; the pathway to new concepts in reading time.


The variety of components for a complication watch such as this requires the mastery of a large number of skills and techniques, applied to the movement parts and the components of the dial and case.

Our desire for excellence has led us to make use of the best sources for each component. The emergence of new machining, formatting and surface treatment techniques - which are evolving rapidly in several places – made it impossible for us to integrate these tools in-house, as we would not have been able to develop them rapidly enough.

This is why the linear bearings of the large connecting rod and the cam are made using photolithography and electro shaping - a technique similar to the one used to make integrated circuits - and the contact surface between the tip of the sensor and the tip of the cam are treated with a surface treatment applied in an extremely hard vacuum with a very low friction coefficient.

Other parts, such as the stars, also require manufacturing procedures that result from new technologies. This research into new procedures, this implementation of crossed fertilisation, which is to say the development - in a specific industry – of its potentials using techniques developed in other fields, led us to a production model that is different from those that are most popular in our industry today.

Our structure – in collaboration with our partners – allows us to develop our methods, and therefore our conception possibilities, according to the most advanced research. It also allows us to validate the results.

To accomplish this, we have not subcontracted all industrial responsibility for our project. On the contrary, we have integrated production management, expertise in choosing sources, specification and order provisions and component flow. We are also responsible for quality control right up to the final assembly.

Integrating digital control machining, brass bottom plates and bridges, and steels – springs, draw bars, etc. – in order to claim ourselves as a manufacture was not a priority, nor was it in line with our desire for honesty.

Functioning of the movement

The jumping hour of the Hautlence watch is characterised by the use of a decorated jumping disc with an aperture in which the hour numeral, inscribed on a fixed dial, is visible.

The use of this jumping disc required us to resolve numerous problems involving energy and inertia; this explains the exceptional character of our creation.

The retrograde minute is a more classic complication that, like the hour disc, has discontinuous functioning features. This incurred additional complex mechanical problems that needed to be resolved.

The combination of these two complications and the resolution of the problems we were faced with this watch were dealt with concurrently, in an original way covered by a patent. The device optimises energy consumption and the torque setting on the movement.

The cannon pinion, the traditional axis of the minute hand, which makes one rotation in one hour, was used as the only organ of movement for the retrograde minute hand and the jumping disc. The jumping disc is not represented in the attached sketch; it is carried by the axis.

The cannon pinion of the minute hand carries a cam that transmits the movement through the intermediary of a sensor - while transforming the movement in a linear shift - to the large rod connecting the reading of hours and minutes. During this movement, the large connecting rod is pushed back and makes the inertia block pivot around its axis. The inertia block compresses the spring which - over the course of this movement - gradually accumulates the energy necessary to make the hour disc jump. As the energy accumulates gradually over an hour, the movement’s barrel spring is solicited regularly and the chronometric performance is not affected.

At the end of the hour, the sensor is released from the tip of the cam; this allows the spring with its accumulated energy to push the connecting rod back to the right, which brings the minute hand back to zero via the intermediary of a secondary connecting rod and launches the inertia block which will act as a fly wheel.

After the connecting rod moves back a certain distance, a catch - interdependent with the rod - catches the hour disc’s primary star wheel. Significant effort is needed for the hour disc to be released by the positioning springs acting on the secondary star; this sets it in motion. This effort is obtained through the inertia effect of the block which then pivots very quickly.

Thanks to its action, the double-star device completes the precise positioning of the hour disc while allowing the large connecting rod to assure the return of the minute hand to zero.

This whole device is perfectly original and a true evolution in the complex world of watchmaking mechanics.

The design and exterior components

The Hautlence watch is built around the calibre. The technical elements are exposed and the technique is perfectly visible.

A tonneau-shaped bevelled sapphire crystal glass is fit to the case thanks to its lower lug and reveals the inner levels, seals and flange volumes. The flange is finished by hand to obtain a flank with a silky satin finish.

The case band is composed of the solid gold body on which the tube and crown are fit. A case back and horns are associated with each case band – one of the main elements of the case –, which is individually crafted by a “case artist”. The exterior components then receive their punches and finishes, which will make each case a totally unique product.

The case back is screwed on with four specially designed Hautlence screws. The case band is made up of a single vertical surface with a simple machined pit that limits the upper part of the horns. With a total thickness of 10.5 mm, this piece offers a massive and generous character, as well as optimum dimensions and ergonomics.

The incasing of the calibre is direct, which means the case band is cut to the shape of the calibre, thus revealing the flanks of the movement and the dial from the top of the piece.

The different levels of the display elements give a unique, in-depth view.

The lower dial reveals part of the minute circle and winding mechanism, and supports the second flange, which cleverly floats between the connecting rods and the upper sapphire dial. The hour markers and cartridge are applied on the upper dial by hand.

The alligator strap is cut from high-quality skins and is shaped around a metallic insert to assure excellent hold and integration of the horns. The skin is folded over on itself and hand stitched.

The overall design of this Hautlence collection is very minimal by design. We boast pure traditional finishes without superfluous decoration.

The assembly, a personalised adjustment

Each qualified watchmaker, chosen for his or her outstanding skills, assembles and adjusts the pieces one by one.

Time is of no consequence in the workshops where these little wonders come to life. The elements, which come from all over Switzerland, arrive on the workbenches of these artists one by one.

With a light and assured hand, they mount the pieces and perform the final calibre adjustments. Several tens of hours are needed before the person responsible for this work of art can carry out the final inspection of the piece.

Functioning control at zero and 24 hours in the 4 main positions on the Witchi machine.
Water-resistance test.
Functioning control of the finished product for 5 days in a precarious position on the Cyclotest machine.

The last ritual before they are sent off to select boutiques? The watchmaking master signs the individual certificate given by the company, guaranteeing the perfect functioning of the numbered kinetic sculpture to which (s)he gave life…

The college

Whether it is during the conception, development or production stage, we work in symbiosis with craftsmen who share our commitment to sheer excellence and our desire to turn a dream into reality by creating a truly new object. The trust and friendship we maintain with them goes far beyond the usual relationships between client and subcontractor. They form, along with us, what we call our College.

This concept is not limited to those who work on the initial stages of our watches, it extends to those operating in the worlds of our distribution – which is very selective -, sales (at the best watch representatives worldwide), journalists, and to clients with whom we have a direct relationship, who wish to share our watchmaking values with us. Their support has been very important to us during the launch of Hautlence.

These artisanal watches require the help of over 50 participants to whom the brand - which is very aware of how much it owes these participants - would like to pay tribute.

From Daytona
to the Cosmograph Daytona

a lot
very much indeed
not at all

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