Bronze is a unique alloy that consists primarily of copper and is traditionally combined with metals such as tin, aluminum, and zinc. It is a very hard metal and can gain a unique patina over time as it oxidizes. In watches, this patina, arguably, is the desired effect. Already available in titanium, blackened titanium, and red gold – the unusually shaped Hautlence Vortex, is now available in bronze.
The introduction of the Vortex Bronze is in-line with some other timepieces that were introduced this year, such as the Black Bay Bronze from Tudor, or the Carl Brashear Limited Edition from Oris.
The Vortex has an unmistakable case shape that is neither a cushion, rectangle, or square. Looking at the face of the watch, the sides are wider at the bottom and taper towards the top. A section of the strap is cut-out, making room for the crown, located at 12 o’clock. The case flanks feature two sapphire crystals (on each side), allowing tons of light to pour into the case, and offering side views of the movement. The caseback is also made of sapphire. A three-dimensional sapphire crystal, that was produced by multi-axis grinding, has facetted edges and makes a right angle at 6 o’clock – offering a totally unique view of the regulating system, and other movement components.
Dimensionally the case measures 52 mm x 50 mm x 17.8 mm, weighs 75 grams, and has the lugs screwed on. The crown is in grade 5 titanium, polished with micro-machined Hautlence logo.
An automatic in-house (caliber HL2.0) powers the unique gear train of the half-trailing hours that are displayed by a 12-link chain (hinged on a pallet system), with an aperture that indicates the current hour in the lower left section on the dial. A retrograde display (instantly jumps back to zero each time it reaches 60) in the middle of the watch indicates minutes. Power reserve is indicated by a large retrograde display in the upper right of the dial.
A special speed regulator ensures that the hour display changes in a controlled and jerk-free manner in 3-4 seconds instead of instantly. It completes 48 revolutions at each hour change.
The movement rate is controlled by a proprietary “mobile bridge-type” assortment comprising the regulating organ and rotating through 60-degrees at each change of the hour.
On the backside is a traditional automatic oscillating weight in 18K brushed white gold. The movement beats at 2.5Hz (18,000 vph) and has two barrels that offer a maximum power reserve of 40-hours.
In total, the movement has 552 components, 92 jewels and is the subject of 3 Hautlence patents.
Finishing of the components includes a variety of high-end hand executed techniques including satin-brushing, bevelling, drawing, and mirror-polishing. Notably, black rhodium-plating is also used on the movement.
The hours and the minutes rings feature white luminescent stickers. The minute hand has a black galvanic rhodium-plated treatment with a white luminescent tip. Even the power reserve indication has luminescent material. Thanks to all the lume, this timepiece is sure to look as cool in the day as at night.
Each of the 8 individually numbered limited edition pieces (Ref. HLR2.3 X/8) come with three straps:
a black hand-sewn rolled-edge, rubberized padded Louisiana alligator leather, with large square scales. A brown zora calfskin strap. And a black rubber strap. Additionally, there are spring bars for strap changes and a screwdriver, along with a folding clasp in grade 2 titanium with a 4N gold polished plate. Water-resistance is 30 meters.
In gold or titanium, this is quite an eye-catching watch. In bronze, once that greenish patina starts forming, as it oxidizes, it will surely standout even more. Each piece will truly become unique, just like when a vintage watch dial forms its own patina.