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.