Born of the meeting of two brands and two universes, both different but connected by a shared sense of aesthetics and an exceptional, slightly unorthodox mindset, the Vagabonde X Black Badger model marks the collaboration between HAUTLENCE and designer James Thompson a.k.a. Black Badger. Specializing in innovative materials which he uses in his own distinctive way, James Thompson is also known as the “Master of Glow”, a reference to Badgerite®, a 3D luminescent composite which he usually works with to bring a unique, artistic approach to everything he touches. The new Vagabonde X Black Badger focuses on the interplay of volumes and contrast, the tension between black and bright colours, and the interaction between the positive and negative space. A fine reinterpretation of the wandering hours model with four hands.
This project arose out of the meeting of two universes and two personalities. Appreciating HAUTLENCE’s aesthetic and the TV screen shape of its signature case, James Thompson immediately saw the full potential of the Vagabonde model: “When Samuel, HAUTLENCE Brand Manager, showed me this model, I was struck by the empty space around the time display system. Negative space isn’t wasted space when you think architecturally. Here, it is the negative space which gives this piece all its character. That was the perfect canvas for me to add my personal touch.” Drawing upon his expertise with luminescent material, James would literally “badgerise” the dial of the Vagabonde, appropriating its aesthetic by enriching it with 3D Badgerite® elements. This material – a Super-LumiNova®-filled ceramic composite – was created in HAUTLENCE’s signature orange colour. Using light as a tool in his work, James wanted to create a piece that would be as beautiful to look at in the daytime as it was at night-time. Like an explosion of light in different spectra, the minute indices are also in Badgerite®, while the hour numerals are enhanced with Super-LumiNova®. For James, “contrast is very much an element in the Vagabonde X Black Badger: the contrast of shapes, between the sharp corners and the rounded, almost organic ones; the tension between colour and light on the one hand, and black on the other; the contrast of using cutting-edge luminescent materials, but having the esthetic of something closer to an 1980’s arcade game. It is this delicate balance which creates a work of art.”
On the base dial, featuring a frosted finish, the sapphire minute dial adds another level to the look of this model. Inside a central disc, the hours rotate, turning on their own axis to mark the passing hours. Driving the rotation of the hour discs, featuring a matt black finish, the B30 bidirectional self-winding movement guarantees a minimum power reserve of three days. This calibre is based on a manufacture movement designed in collaboration with H. Moser & Cie., which HAUTLENCE developed in a modular way to create this stunning piece.
In steel, the TV screen-shaped case of the Vagabonde X Black Badger model has been redesigned, offering water resistance to 10 ATM. Retaining its balanced proportions, it is equipped with a bevelled sapphire crystal and a fluted crown with a rubber ring in the same blue as the integrated rubber strap.
Black Badger and HAUTLENCE are co-signing an exquisite work of art here: a watch with a big personality in which every detail says HAUTLENCE.
About Black Badger
James Thompson is the designer behind Black Badger, a creative design agency that specializes in using advanced materials in new and exciting ways. He’s previously done special editions with other independent watch brands. Since 2020 James has been the co-owner of the Copenhagen-based watch brand Arcanaut. Born in Vancouver, Canada, James relocated to Gothenburg, Sweden in 2002 where he lives with a wife too pretty for him and 2 kids who will soon be taller than him.
Founded in 2004, HAUTLENCE – whose name itself is an anagram of Neuchâtel – pays tribute to the birthplace of the watchmaking art. The brand has been praised by watch collectors and aficionados from across the world for bringing a new dynamism to the art of fine watchmaking.
In 2022, HAUTLENCE embarked on a new chapter in its history. While continuing to refine and develop the brand’s signature codes, HAUTLENCE adopted a brand new, more contemporary and sporty approach. Featuring a new structure, a more exclusive distribution network and a visual identity aligned with the brand’s positioning, HAUTLENCE now has the resources to confirm its status as a leading independent.
With annual production of around 200 pieces, HAUTLENCE has nine calibres designed and developed in-house, whilst also relying on external partners for the movements used in certain collections.
In strategic terms, HAUTLENCE can count on support from MELB Holding, an independent family watchmaking group which has been offering its experience and network since 2012, with the synergies between HAUTLENCE and the group sure to grow.
HAUTLENCE is pushing the boundaries of traditional watchmaking codes, uniting them with innovative mechanical solutions and an unlimited universe borrowed from the various arts, combining design, architecture, and movement. The brand takes its inspiration from this to create new approaches to time display, which it uses to elevate the two key dimensions of space and time. Ever conscious of a functional relationship with beauty, HAUTLENCE invents timepieces with completely new contours and depths, respecting every stage and every person involved in their production.