TOY STORY

The Peak Selections: Timepieces - - The Brief -

Would you pay US$12,600 (S$17,000) to re­live a small part of your child­hood? The folks at Haut­lence think so. One of the Swiss in­de­pen­dent brand’s lat­est nov­el­ties, the Playground Labyrinth is a me­chan­i­cal take on ball-in-a-maze puz­zles – those small, hand­held games where ball bear­ings are ma­nip­u­lated through a maze to­wards holes at the end.

Housed in a watch case, it looks – at a glance – like an ac­tual wrist­watch, al­beit a fan­ci­ful one. Labyrinth was ap­par­ently in­spired by the sim­ple games that Haut­lence co-founder and CEO San­dro Reginelli used to play as a child. We’re guess­ing, how­ever, that those toys weren’t en­cased in ti­ta­nium and crafted from solid gold.

Now for the cru­cial ques­tions: Does the Labyrinth tell the time – at all? No. Why does it cost so much, then? Truth be told, there is no straight an­swer, al­though the press notes for this new re­lease at­tempt to pro­vide one: “In an in­creas­ingly con­nected world where every­thing, in­clud­ing time, is avail­able at the push of a but­ton, the Playground col­lec­tion plays with the idea of ab­so­lute dis­con­nect. Im­mers­ing your­self in the game pro­vides a very nec­es­sary and pleas­ant slow­ness.”

Even though this piece of wrist candy has no time-telling ca­pa­bil­i­ties, “it is per­fectly aligned with the ex­cel­lence in watchmaking em­bed­ded in Haut­lence’s DNA”, con­tin­ues the press re­lease. We don’t deny this. The fin­ish­ing on the case and maze-like struc­ture is as fine as that of any Haut­lence time­piece (edges are bev­elled and sur­faces al­ter­nate be­tween brushed and pol­ished fin­ishes). Plus, there is a con­cealed mech­a­nism, ac­ti­vated by the crown, that re­trieves the 18K gold ball once it has fallen through the hole. The ball is brought back up through an­other hole, thus “re­set­ting” the game.

Gim­micky? For sure. But as a con­ver­sa­tion starter, it’s cer­tainly pretty hard to beat.

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