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Samuel Hoffmann On Leading A Resounding Comeback For Hautlence 2.0

By Neha S. Bajpai
16 Mar 2023
5 min read

Best known for its highly complicated time displays and crazy case structures, Hautlence is back in business with an aggressive product strategy and an enticing new range of watches

Last August, Hautlence embarked on a new chapter with the LINEAR Series 1, launched as part of the revamped product strategy and brand direction helmed by Samuel Hoffmann. Besides working closely with its sister company, H. Moser & Cie., at the integrated manufacture, Hautlence is aiming to build a strong identity for itself in the world of high complications and ergonomics.

To know more about Hautlence 2.0, we caught up with Hoffmann, who was in Hong Kong recently to launch the LINEAR Series 2.

Excerpts from the interview:

Hautlence launched a new chapter last year with the introduction of the LINEAR Series. How was the response and what can we expect from the brand in the coming months?

SH: The response was really good. I think we came back with the brand at the perfect time. Originally launched in 2004, the company was bought over by the Meylan family in 2012. There were some sporadic changes in the product offerings since 2017 with a few launches every now and then but nothing solid happened. Then COVID struck and we went silent. We decided to revamp the brand at the end of the pandemic and I think the timing was perfect, as people still remembered us. Had we done it a year later, we might have missed that curve. It was really well received, people were extremely happy to see that the brand was still alive and that we were really pushing it again.

The LINEAR Series 1 was really well received. I was glad that people noticed the DNA of the brand in our new offerings, this was extremely important for me.

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Pictured is the LINEAR Series 1 released in 2022

Over the years, we have seen a wide range of design and material experimentation within Hautlence. What will be your focus over the next five years — more complications or material innovation?

SH: It will be both but more heavily leaned towards complications, as that’s really an important aspect for us. I always say Hautlence watches don't just tell the time, they are more about watching the time pass and engaging in the spectacle of the time change. There will be complications that one doesn't usually get to see on watches, for instance the HL Sphere, which gives us the possibility of playing with two halves.We can change the sphere to something completely different. We could have hundreds of options that one doesn't usually see in the watchmaking world.

Who is a typical Hautlence customer — someone who loves the mind boggling technical complexity of the H2 series or someone who is looking for a cool retrograde time display presented in avant-garde cases?

SH: I don't think we have a typical customer profile. As you mentioned, we have mind boggling complications, which appeal to people interested in the technical side of things, for example engineers and tech geeks. At the same time, we also have people who are more interested in the visual appeal or the aesthetics of the watch rather than the technicity. I would say Hautlence is for someone who doesn't mind being different and is confident of wearing a unique timepiece.

The Linear Series 2 features the self-winding Calibre D50 and a redesigned all-black case with PVD coating ©HAUTLENCE

Hautlence and Moser are sister companies and there has been some synergy on the movement front. Going forward, how do you plan to maximize this synergy?

SH: We were able to integrate the manufacture at Schaffhausen recently and have benefitted the most from it. We have the same production lines, so the watchmakers work on it. Movement-wise, the LINEAR is based on the HMC 804, so the base components will continue to be sourced from Moser, as that's the synergy that helps us with the know-how, also the hairsprings. The construction and development of new pieces is very important for us. The marketing strategy will also be different for the sake of our individual brand identities. We will try to integrate as much as possible on the other aspects.

Which are your key markets?

SH: Asia has been our key market since we have always pushed things better in this part of the world. Our watches have been very well received here. The US market is also building up well, so I think those will remain our strongest markets in the coming months. The Middle East is also quite strong for us.

Limited to 28 pieces, the LINEAR Series 2 has a power reserve minimum of 72 hours and is water resistant to 10 ATM ©HAUTLENCE

We're seeing a lot of brands going with smaller dials. Are you worried about that trend?

SH: I think it's important that we stick to our DNA. So for me, the size of the case and the form are very important. We are working on a smaller case but we won't ever be doing 36-37mm. We won't be able to make the complications that we are known for within those dimensions. So there will be two different collections, where LINEAR would be available in the current size and the smaller dials would showcase completely different complications. We don’t want to follow trends blindly and lose sight of what we have been known for.

Can you name a few personalities you think are best suited to wear Hautlence?

SH: Being Swiss, I’d say my first choice would be Roger Federer. Besides being great at his game, he is also someone who doesn’t mind going his own way. I think Hautlence would suit his personality. The other person I would like to go with would be George Clooney, again, I think, he is someone who is very self confident and can pull off our watches well.

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If you could borrow/steal one thing from Hautlence’s sister brand, Moser, what would it be?

SH: The first thing would be Moser’s marketing strategy, especially the provocative campaigns from the past few years and the other thing would be the brilliant use of colors on the dial. Aesthetically, we can’t have our dials as simple as Moser’s but I love the way the colors pop on their dials.

What do you love about Hong Kong?

SH: I love the fact that it's very new-world on one hand but at the same time, the city also reflects an old world charm in places. I love the multicultural atmosphere as well.