GAMES AND COLORS. DA MAN sat down over a cup of coffee with Sandro Reginelli, co-founder and CEO of Hautlence, to learn more about the brand’s outlook for 2016
It was a hot day, especially for Jakarta, during our interview with Sandro Reginelli, CEO and co-founder of the Swiss fine watch brand Hautlence. But, it would seem that Reginelli was more than prepared, having already visited the country late last year. Of course, Indonesia has always been a major focus for this watchmaking company based in Neuchâtel, as its only boutique in the world is located at Pacific Place Jakarta. For our part, we were eager to learn more of what Hautlence and its steward has in mind for the future.
“We are going to release some great novelties at SIHH 2017 which will be natural evolutions of the HL2 movement”
DA MAN: How is the market potential of Indonesia—and Southeast Asia as a whole—for Hautlence?
Sandro Reginelli: For Hautlence, the region is very important. Between Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, this is basically our main market nowadays. This is also thanks to our organization, as we have our own distributor based in Hong Kong, which basically manages the whole region.
DA MAN: What is the reason for Hautlence’s strong standing in this region?
Sandro Reginelli: I co-founded this company in 2004, with four friends with one dream—the dream of creating new watchmaking standards. What I mean by that is a totally new way to read time—and a very contemporary way, that is. I believe that this region really appreciates not only classic watches, but brands that are very contemporary; brands that are pushing the boundaries of mechanical watches to the limits; and brands that bring watches that look like art pieces. And I think Indonesians—as well as Singaporeans and Malaysians—are really appreciative of this type of product.
DA MAN: What are your plans for the rest of 2016?
Sandro Reginelli: I mean, I’m not planning for six months—I’m planning for five years. [Laughs] Of course, 2016 is quite a difficult year. We see that the economy is slowing down in general; but I have to say that we still continue to have good results in Southeast Asia. Why? Because I believe we have the right partners, also because we have the right brand awareness in these countries. So, for the next six months, what I want to do is to really concentrate on developing the markets where we are already strong. I’m not looking for expansion; I’m not looking to open new markets. I really want to focus our developments with our current business partners in order to be able to invest more with them and not dilute the investments with other market expansions.
DA MAN: And beyond 2016?
Sandro Reginelli: Of course for us, as you can imagine, we cannot just plan in steps of six months. Just for your information, for the Vortex, a product which is part of the HL2 movement, it took us five years to develop. We have many projects in the pipeline that we are working on in parallel. We are going to release some great novelties at SIHH 2017 which will be, I would say, natural evolutions of the HL2 movement.
“We are in the world that is always connected, but we propose to people to disconnect, in order to better reconnect”
DA MAN: Do you have a personal favorite among all the watches produced by Hautlence so far?
Sandro Reginelli: I am wearing every day, more or less, a different watch. Why? Because it’s important to me. Because while I’m wearing it, I can see what I can improve, what I can change. If I don’t wear the watches, then of course I will not be able to feel it and to make sure that the next steps will be the right ones. So, my favorite watch is basically the watch of the day.
DA MAN: Speaking of the watch of the day, what is your view on today’s smartwatches?
Sandro Reginelli: I see it positively. Why? Because I believe this is helping the Swiss watchmaking industry to wake up, to accelerate their developments. I don’t believe that smartwatches will cannibalize Swiss high-end watchmaking. It might be a problem for products at entry-level price points, but I think it’s complementary. We’re talking about two different target groups, and I really strongly believe that mechanical watches will stay, and will continue to grow.
[Reginelli took out a Labyrinth specimen]
This is basically our answer to smartwatches. We want to say to the world that we are authentic, and this is why we have created this mechanical game. And this is quite exclusive. This [the dial] is in red gold, the ball is in platinum and the whole case is in titanium. So, again, this is the answer to smartwatches. We are in the world that is always connected, but we propose to people to disconnect, in order to better reconnect. We need to bring back some genuineness; we need to go back to the essentials. And what’s essential is, sometimes, for us to go back to childhood and play.
All the knowledge we have to build movements is used to build this mechanical game. This is of the first prototype and the actual product will be released by the end of May, and it will be completely decorated like an actual movement. So, it will have côtes de Genève, circle brushing, bevel angles; it’s going to be an exceptional piece.
[Next, he showed us a Vortex Primary watch]
This is the Vortex Primary we have developed with Eric Cantona, which was presented at SIHH 2016. This is a limited edition of 18 pieces—very exclusive. For Indonesia, I think you will get two or three. This piece was developed with the idea that Eric Cantona wanted to play with the primary colors: yellow, blue and red. He said that these are the basic colors, and if you mix them you can obtain all the other colors. When you look at it, and the light that comes in, it gives you the opportunity to see the colors mixing within the movement and changing, so you’d see some green, a bit of pink, et cetera, et cetera.