THE STORM MAKER. The first Vortex, the newest timepiece from Hautlence, arrived in Indonesia accompanied by the brand’s very own master watchmaker, Joachim Besomi
Last August, Swiss watch brand Hautlence revealed its newest creation, the Vortex. This November, the Vortex finally arrived in Indonesia. Accompanying these unique timepieces on their trip to the brand’s boutique at Pacific Place, Jakarta, was CEO and co-founder Guillaume Tetu along with Joachim Besomi, Hautlence’s master watchmaker. Naturally, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to learn more about the man behind some of the most intriguing timepieces we’ve encountered.
The Vortex was quite a departure from Hautlence’s earlier designs; and that’s saying something as the brand made a name for itself for its unique approach to telling time. “The most important difference is the horizontal shape that we have redesigned completely to be more ergonomic compared to the HL2 caliber, which is vertical,” Besomi began.
More than anything, however, the Vortex reaffirmed Hautlence’s focus on high-end complications and creativity. While the brand did develop its entry-level products, including the Morphos Invictus, which was designed in collaboration with Eric Cantona, the new Vortex was all about the brand’s DNA. Or, as the master watchmaker himself put it, the Vortex embodied the brand’s passion for “creating crazy machines that tell time in a different way.”
“If we compare it with cars, the first collection was more like Rolls Royce; now it’s a Lamborghini”
As always, the visual impact of an Hautlence watch is just as important as the movement inside. “I like the sharp design we’ve done: It’s more futuristic, more contemporary,” Besomi pointed out, and then added: “If we compare it with cars, the first collection was more like Rolls Royce; now it’s a Lamborghini.”
Hearing this, we couldn’t resist asking a question that he’s probably heard thousands of times before from people new to the world of haute horlogerie: How can a wristwatch cost as much as a Rolls Royce or Lamborghini? First, he pointed out how it takes five years just to develop the movement of a watch like the Vortex. Secondly, there is the matter of exclusivity. Compared to supercars and many other luxury items, a very limited number of fine mechanical watches are produced each year. This is especially true of something along the lines of the Vortex, of which only 50 specimens are created each year. “The components and everything is handmade,” he went on, before concluding with: “A lot of craftsmanship gives a lot of value.”
As befitting of a master watchmaker, Besomi’s true passion lies in this kind of handcrafting. While his involvement in a watch’s development begins from the very start when the team’s engineers are still working their initial ideas using design software, he looks forward to jumping off the computer. “What I really prefer is to have the first components on the bench and start to assemble,” he gushes passionately. “This is exactly what a watchmaker likes to do: To assemble cold non-living components altogether and give birth to a mechanical wonder.”
That is not to say that it’s a simple process—or a short one, for that matter. Many iterations of a watch are made, each improving on its predecessor, before the production starts. “And this is what Joachim is best for,” Guillaume Tetu, Hautlence’s CEO and co-founder, chimed in. “He can start from scratch, assemble watch for the first time, see what is not working, discuss with the engineers and then improve on it. And the improvement session is really the most important: It’s the key.”
The back of Hautlence Vortex HLR2.2
Surprisingly, Joachim Besomi wasn’t born into the watchmaking industry, where craftsmanship is often passed from generation to generation. He did, however, go through the usual channels: Studying in Switzerland and then accepting an internship. “I fell in love with watchmaking because I understood that I had the skill,” he recalled fondly. “That’s why I decided to train in order to become a real Swiss full watchmaker.”
“When we say full watchmaker, that means you can repair old clocks up to electronic watches,” Tetu clarified. “So, Joachim is a full, complete watchmaker.”
“This is exactly what a watchmaker likes to do: To assemble cold non-living components altogether and give birth to a mechanical wonder”
Besomi joined Hautlence in mid-2007, only three years after the company was established, as a prototypist. But Tetu was quick to point out that he was now the brand’s master watchmaker: “He started in mid-2007 with prototyping, but now he is taking care of the entire watchmaking process. He is the head of watchmaking in Hautlence, doing basically everything from the R&D and prototyping, up to production.”
We often hear how the essence of Hautlence is the craftsmanship and design of the “mechanical heart” of fine watches. It was certainly a privilege to meet the man that keeps that heart beating.