Hautlence sounds like a gastric condition afflicting a member of the British Royal family. It is, in fact, a Swiss watch brand rescued from certain death by Georges-Henri Meylan, Audemars Piguet’s CEO from 1997 to 2009. Mssr. Meylan’s got friends in high places. The question is, does he have high friends in high places? The Hautlence HL Sphere 02 strikes me as a watch best appreciated after smoking the herb that made Toots Hibbert a reggae legend . . .
Funny thing: the wild and wacky Hautlence watch brand is sister to the truly madly deeply reserved H. Moser & Cie, manufacturer of exquisite two and three-handed circular timepieces (not to mention the goofy Streamliner).
It’s as if parent MELB Holdings is being run by Harvey Dent (a.k.a., Two-Face). It isn’t, of course; Mr. Dent being a fictional character and all. But it’s hard to imagine a watch further in design and operation from the H. Moser & Cie Venturer Vantablack.
Still, props to Hautlence for creating a timekeeping device that’s both technically complex and unremittingly ugly – when viewed from the front. Admired via the transparent caseback, the 02’s in-house movement is bifurcated brilliance. This power reserve indicator I love; you scan the mainspring for its state of wind. Done!
I could do without the text; drawing attention to a jewel count high enough to satisfy Marilyn Monroe is a bit OTT. But the Hautlence HL Sphere 02 is one of those rare timepieces whose caseback beauty tempts the owner to wear it upside down.
You really can’t appreciate the Hautlence HL Sphere 02’s full horological happening without watching the movement doing it’s thing. Equally impressive: the price. At today’s conversion rate, the Swiss TV-shaped timepiece retails for $112,092.39 – plus tax.
There are a lot more “sensible” ways to spend 120 large on a watch. But no member of the horological Holy Trinity offers anything this bonkers. Good for Hautlence for following Fleetwood Mac’s sage advice to take the horological road less traveled – although I don’t think Lindsey Buckingham was writing about watchmaking per se.
I’m not entirely sure the Hautlence HL Sphere 02 is a terrific financial investment (not that any watch is). As yet, there’s not a strong secondary market for bizarro watches.
The 79 percent depreciation (and counting) indignity suffered by the once-$60k titanium Hautlence HLQ07 (above) must give one’s accountant pause for thought – assuming one doesn’t have such an enormous pile of FU money that you can purchase a $120k watch and ask for the change in Rolex.
Money, money, money. MONEY! As Oscar Wilde famously remarked, the definition of a cynic is someone who “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
How can you put a price on the Hautlence HL Sphere 02’s entertainment value? Especially if you play bingo or enjoy watching lottery balls drop. Which mega-rich people don’t, mostly.
But the world’s a big place, full of really wealthy, often bored, more-than-somewhat boring people. Jet setters who want more to be seen as interesting. Fascinating! Daring! Fun! Kooky? Sure!
Wearing the Hautlence HL Sphere 02 would certainly spice up your average gazillionaire’s image. With only 28 examples slated for production, a well-heeled collector strapping on a Hautlence HL Sphere 02 becomes part of an elite group of rich people who hear the words “What the Hell is that on your wrist?” on a regular basis.
And 28 is a small number, percentage of expensive watch buying gazillionaires-wise.
Like bondage, if you don’t understand the Hautlence HL Sphere 02 it’s not for you, regardless of your financial circumstances. What I’d like to see: the design using a magic 8 ball. Let’s see . . . “Don’t count on it.” Damn!