Created by Stéphane von Gunten, the Haute-Rive HONORIS I is a sensational mechanical wristwatch with a staggering power reserve of 1,000 hours, a new world record for autonomy with a single winding barrel and a tourbillon.
Founded by La Chaux-de-Fonds native and inventor Stéphane von Gunten, Haute-Rive is an independent Swiss luxury watch brand. Its debut creation is HONORIS I, a hand-wound timepiece with a mysterious flying tourbillon and a grand feu enamel dial.
Available with a yellow or white gold case, this haute horlogerie creation boasts hand decorations and finishing.
The watchmaking tradition is rooted in the cultural and family heritage of Stéphane von Gunten. One of his ancestors was Irénée Aubry, the 19th-century watchmaker and inventor of the 8-day pocket watch known as Hebdomas. HONORIS I was inspired by Irénée Aubry’s creations, especially the Pope’s pocket watch with a 40 day power reserve.
Stéphane von Gunten takes his grandfather’s inventions further, creating the first wristwatch with a 1000-hour power reserve that is both wearable and elegant. Once a month, Honoris I watch needs to be wound via its 60-facet bezel, controlled by a column-wheel function selector.
Haute-Rive is the name given to the place on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel, in Chez-le-Bart, near St-Aubin, where his ancestor Irénée Aubry set up his workshop.
His favorite subject was the power reserve, one of the weak points of pocket watches despite their large size. Irénée Aubry thus developed a concept for which he obtained patent no. 88 on January 10, 1889: a watch that, once wound, could run on its own for eight straight days.
The Graizely Frères watchmaking company acquired his patents and registered the brand name Hebdomas. Graizely added its own patent for a regulating organ visible through the dial, and thus was born one of the most important watchmaking successes that lasted from 1890s to the 1930s.
Practical, affordable, slim, and recognized with several awards at World’s Fairs, Hebdomas pocket watches were manufactured in La Chaux-de-Fonds by the company renamed Graizely et Cie, which later became Schild& Cie.
The Pope’s watch
Commissioned by the canton of Jura in 1887, Irénée Aubry developed an exceptional pocket watch to be presented to Pope Leo XIII on the occasion of his Jubilee by a delegation of pilgrims from Franches-Montagnes – the region where Irénée was born.
This pocket watch – the famous Montre du Pape (the Pope’s watch) – ran for 40 days with a single winding. In 1888, he was decorated with the Croix Pour l’Église. Widely acclaimed, he stole the show with his watch at the Paris World’s Fair in 1889.
The gold case of the Montre du Pape features a portrait of Pope Leo XIII and an engraving of the Franches-Montagnes coat of arms. The gold bezel is fluted – a motif Stéphane would later echo on his HONORIS I.
Haute-Rive HONORIS I
Although it houses an exceptional engine delivering 1,000-hour power reserve, Haute-Rive HONORIS I maintains the formal elegance of a dress watch. Measuring just 42.5 mm in diameter and 12 mm in thickness, the fully polished gold case is topped by a bezel with 60 concave facets and honed edges.
The case houses Calibre HR01, a mechanical hand-wound movement with flying tourbillon, function selector, and a power reserve indicator on the back in the form of a readily legible disc.
Available in black or white, the grand feu enamel dial is expertly executed at high temperature on an 18-carat gold plate using the champlevé technique. This traditional aesthetic is reinforced by the two leaf-shaped, perfectly polished hands in, depending on the version, white gold or flame-blued steel.
To achieve the goal of a 1,000-hour power reserve for the HR01 caliber, Stéphane von Gunten increased the mainspring’s size to the maximum while preserving the overall dimensions of the watch.
Usually, timepieces that offer 10 days of running time are quite enormous, often packaged in futuristic designs. Haute-Rive HONORIS I was conceived in the most classic spirit of wearability. That’s why Stéphane von Gunten opted for a single barrel. Increasing its size meant having the plate act as the drum.
Custom-designed by a specialist in this field, the mainspring inside is 3 meters long, certainly the longest ever installed in a wristwatch. To deliver the smoothest possible torque, it is fitted with a sliding flange that prevents surges and peaks. The sliding flange also protects the gear train when the spring is fully cocked.
The barrel communicates on one side with the power reserve indicator, located on the caseback. Around a grained central cover has a ring with a graduation from 0 to 1000.
This 360-degree indication offers optimum readability at all times, impossible with a traditional gauge. On the other, the barrel engages a differential that connects it to the gear train and to the winding mechanism. The mainspring of the movement is wound by turning the bezel counter clockwise.
The watchmaker has opted for a bezel operated winding system as the force required and the number of barrel turns would have made it quite impossible to use a crown.
What’s more, the bezel feels comfortable to the touch, easy to turn thanks to the 60 subtly recessed grooves. They provide just the right grip for the winding operation, which can be spaced 40 days apart, i.e., once a month, with a 10-day safety margin.
The innovative function selector is linked to a crown that cannot be pulled out, to a column wheel, and to a sliding pinion located on the longest and most visible of all the crown stems. This directly engages the gear train for setting the time, right at the heart of the HR01 caliber.
The central, three-dimensional gear bridge, shaped like a double mustache, is an essential graphic but also horological element of HR01 caliber’s design and a Honoris I hallmark. Its shape and prominence hint at a layered movement, fully in the spirit of classical watchmaking, which lends itself to the play and interplay of superlative finishes.
Above the barrel, the HR01 caliber is topped by the wheel of time. It transmits power to the gear train, reminding the beholder of the importance of the driving force in this watch.
The wheel of time meshes with a gear train spread over 7 levels vertically. At the end of this kinetic chain, Stéphane von Gunten installed one of his specialties, a flying tourbillon.
A large rhodium-plated brass cage, in the shape of an open-worked cross, holds the finely tuned assembly. It houses a flat steel alloy balance spring, a variable-inertia balance wheel, and a Swiss lever escapement.
It’s the structure and verticality of the cage that stand out here: They emerge from the dial, creating a third focal point above the spread of exquisitely executed enamel.
Model: Haute-Rive Honoris 01
Reference: HR01 caliber
Winding: Manual, via rotating bezel
Power reserve: 1,000 hours (41 days), one barrel, 3-meter-long mainspring
Regulator: Mysterious flying tourbillon with one-minute rotation, angled anchor escapement, variable inertia balance wheel
Functions: Hours, minutes; function selector; power-reserve indicator on the case back
Diameter: 38.45mm diameter, i.e., 17”’ (lignes)
Frequency: 2.5 Hz (18,000 vibrations/hour)
Plate and bridges: Sandblasted, grained, hand-beveled with Jura gentian wood
Material: 18K yellow gold or 18K white gold
Dimensions: 42.5mm diameter
Crystal: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating
Case back crystal: Sapphire
Water-resistance: 3 ATM (30 meters, 100 feet)
Base plate in 18K yellow gold or 18K white gold
Black or white grand feu enamel, champlevé technique
Leaf-type, domed, polished
18K white gold or blued steel
Black or brown nubuck calfskin, hand-stitched, tone-on-tone topstitching
Buckle in 18K yellow gold or 18K white gold
Production limited to approx. 10 watches per year
CHF 148,000 excl. VAT.