Contemporary watchmaker HAUTLENCE strengthens its partnership with its dynamic ambassador, ex-footballer Eric Cantona, with the launch of a new multi-coloured and three-dimensional VORTEX PRIMARY. Unveiled on the first day of the prestigious Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH – Carré des Horlogers), the VORTEX PRIMARY combines Cantona’s strong passion for art with HAUTLENCE’s unique reinterpretation of time, resulting in a timepiece that is sculptured like a mechanical piece of art.
Following the launch of the INVICTUS Morphos in 2014, HAUTLENCE’s first chronograph co-designed with Cantona, this incredible duo chose to reveal the second part of their collaboration with a new innovative timepiece in the Concept d’Exception collection. Stunningly designed from the inside out, the VORTEX PRIMARY is built on HAUTLENCE’s second Concept d’Exception, the VORTEX, introduced in July 2015. This new timepiece features the same spectacular mechanism while flaunting a whole new look made out of coloured glass structures, turning it into an astonishing creation.
A sculptural case inspired by stained glass windows and three-dimensional mosaic
Inspired by post-modern architecture and deconstructivism, the three-dimensional case of the VORTEX PRIMARY showcases facetted structures embellished with coloured glass that allow a view of the complex movement from all sides. Recalling the splendour of stained glass windows, this state-of-the-art case is crafted out of black PVD-coated grade 5 titanium and highlights a total of 19 different coloured glass panels, creating an eye-catching mosaic of shades. HAUTLENCE and Cantona chose a mix of materials in primary colours to create this vibrant design, which includes five transparent sapphire crystals, two semi-transparent sapphire crystals, four red ruby glass panels, five blue spinel glass panels and three yellow corundum glass panels. These windows reveal parts of the impressive movement from all sides of the case and let light through to focus on the mechanism. Besides its creative design, the case also weighs a remarkable 48 grams, making the timepiece both attractive and comfortable to wear.
Commenting on the mosaic-inspired design of the VORTEX PRIMARY, HAUTLENCE Co-Founder Guillaume Tetu shares, “When we first started sketching the watches that Eric Cantona had in mind, we were looking for designs that symbolized the expression or reinterpretation of time. Eric asked if we could work with three-dimensional glass panels, which would allow a partial view of the mechanism powering the watch. The idea was to craft the timepiece sculpturally, in the same way one would design a three-dimensional mechanical piece of art.”
Sharing his thoughts on the VORTEX PRIMARY, Cantona comments, “My collaboration with HAUTLENCE allows me to bring a new dynamic to the expression of time while drawing on my passion for art. Through the VORTEX PRIMARY, I wanted to take a deeper look at the symbolism of passing time. The coloured glass panels make us question our own relationship with time, with light flowing through the case to highlight the movement in an almost mystical way. The primary colours used to embellish the case structure and balance out the complex mechanism that is at the heart of the watch. The VORTEX PRIMARY is a mechanical masterpiece housed in an astounding case, and I am so proud of the result.”
A dynamic display of time
In addition to its colourful exterior, the VORTEX PRIMARY stands out from the rest of the collection thanks to its lack of a dial. The retrograde minutes are placed directly on the sapphire crystal of the case, with the half-trailing hours indicated through HAUTLENCE’s signature jumping hour chain system that advances as time passes by. A power reserve indicator is portrayed in red at three o’ clock, while the movement’s regulating organ is on full display at six o’ clock as it rotates 60 degrees every 60 minutes. Such a dynamic design gives the timepiece a new look every hour.
Three patents for an exceptional timepiece
Powering the VORTEX PRIMARY is the same movement as the VORTEX, a reinterpreted and redesigned version of the innovative in-house automatic calibre HL2.0 presented in the first Concept d’Exception in 2010. Angled at 90 degrees, the new in-house automatic calibre HLR2.0 is protected by three HAUTLENCE patents. The first patent pertains to the 12-link chain of the half-trailing hours, which smoothly turns in 3 to 4 seconds every 60 minutes to display the hour. Such a system differs from an instant system that switches the hours too quickly for one to truly appreciate and from a dragging system whereby time cannot be easily read between the hours. The half-trailing hours system rotates effortlessly without losing energy and displays the beauty of the movement and its mechanisms in action. The second patent relates to the regulating organ integrated into the mobile bridge-type movement. Its constantly changing position, driven by the display, compensates statistically for the effects of gravity, thus enhancing its precision. The third patent is linked to the operation of the movement’s two barrels. The main barrel is wound by the automatic-winding system of the movement and transfers the necessary energy to wind a second barrel that is dedicated exclusively to driving the complication. The main barrel continuously winds the second barrel so as to ensure that energy remains at an optimal level to change each hour. This ensures that these complex systems remain powered independently without impacting the precision of the watch.
The VORTEX PRIMARY is available with six different straps that can be easily interchanged with a screwdriver that is included in the box. The straps come in a choice of black Louisiana alligator leather or five different coloured rubber straps, each fitted with a folding clasp in grade 2 titanium with a satin-finish steel plate.
Limited to 18 exclusive pieces, the VORTEX PRIMARY combines Cantona’s powerful artistic eye with HAUTLENCE’s daring vision and boundless creativity. More than simply a wristwatch, the VORTEX PRIMARY is a true chef d’oeuvre — one that pushes horological boundaries while respecting watchmaking traditions.