Earlier this year Hautlence launched the HL Sphere 01, about which we wrote at this link. A wrist form of the HL Kinetic table clock, it displays hours and minutes via a spherical ‘jumping hour’ and a retrograde minute display. I said at the time that it was a very cool watch, and now, with the passage of time and the chance to see the one that Bertrand Meylan of Hautlence/ H.Moser & Cie clearly wears a lot, my view of the piece hasn’t changed.
To recap – on the left is a blue PVD-treated Grade 5 titanium sphere, underneath a domed sapphire crystal. Comprising of two parts, it features twelve engraved numerals and rotates 450 degrees on itself courtesy of four conical gears that move around two crossed spindles (at 21 degrees) through three rotation axes to reveal the current hour. The numerals are laser engraved and filled with white lacquer.
On the right of the dial is the open-worked retrograde minute display, with a hand that travels along a minute track. This aperture brings the gear train into view, which slows down the course of the minute hand when it returns to zero, regulating its speed so as to reduce impact forces. The differential and snail used to trigger the jumping hour can also be seen beneath the minute hand. The minute hands are satin-finished Grade 5 titanium with blue PVD treatment and white lacquer filling.
The base dial is skeletonised and rhodium-plated. There is then an intermediate dial, which is smoked metallic sapphire crystal and has the applied diamond-polished rhodium-plated numerals.
Finishing wise, both front and back are sand-blasted, with components decorated and finished by hand.
All this is powered by the manual-wind Calibre HTL 501-1 with 38 jewels, 21,600 VPH, and a power reserve of three days. The calibre is fitted with a safety mechanism that protects the movement during reverse time setting. The skeletonised balance bridge has a proprietary balance spring produced by sister company Precision Engineering. A skeletonised drum and ratchet reveal the barrel spring, thereby providing a simple yet ingenious visual indication of the power reserve.
The case, in 18kt white gold, measures 39mm x 46mm x 12mm, and it is water resistant to 30m. This sounds large; to handle and wear, you really do feel these numbers. It has heft. This is never going to be a watch for those more accustomed to slim or even moderately sized pieces, but if like me you are not a stranger to some watch heft then it is something that one could be accustomed to wearing. To see the changing of the hours is unadulterated fun as well as being technically interesting, and for fans of retrogrades and unconventional displays such as the sphere, it is difficult not to admire this piece.
It comes on a rubber-lined blue Louisiana alligator strap with folding clasp in Grade 5 titanium. Coming in a limited edition of 28 pieces, the RRP is 99,000 CHF/ 97,800 EUR. For those in Australia, contact the Avstev Group, who are responsible for both Hautlence and their sister brand H.Moser & Cie, here.