Haute-Rive Honoris I: Incredible 1,000-Hour/41-Day Power Reserve plus a Flying Tourbillon in a Very Wearable Watch

Not all watchmakers are created equal. Some simply possess more talent in particular fields, while others excel in different things. The irony of this is that most exceptional watchmakers are not very comfortable with this notion. In a deep sense of modesty, they downplay their achievements and seem to be almost embarrassed when you get really excited about what they have made.

In that matter, I probably owe Stéphane Von Gunten an apology because when he showed me last year the first watch of his own brand, there was no way that I could hide my excitement, but more of that later.

Stéphane Von Gunten

In the world of watches, Stéphane Von Gunten has a rockstar status. He likes to explore uncharted territory and tackle problems in an innovative way. While he did spend a few years at Patek Philippe, many might know him from his time at Ulysse Nardin where he climbed the ranks to the desirable position of Research & Development Director. This is quite a job, as Ulysse Nardin has innovation as one of its driving forces.  

The name game

While Von Gunten achieved amazing things at Ulysse Nardin, seeing his first watch made me wonder if he shouldn’t have struck out on his own long before. It ain’t easy to make a watch on your own, it is even more difficult to make such a watch innovative and refreshing, and it is a near impossibility to then market it properly.

Most great watches are just great watches, and while very cool, commercial success usually needs a story. Granted, watches that are not as good need this more, but it always helps. While an innovative watchmaker pur sang, Von Gunten showed great insight into how to offer the complete package. He ignored the temptation of naming the brand after himself but instead used his family’s history. This is quite extensive, as he is the fifth generation that went into watchmaking.



The name of the brand, Haute-Rive, is the same as the workshop in which his great-great-grandfather worked. Also, for the concept of his first watch, he dug into his family history and found a patent filed in 1889 for a Hebdomas pocket watch with a power reserve of a generous 8 days.

Vintage Hebdomas 8-day pocket watch

While this all may sound very nice, it is rare that a watchmaker comes with such a genuine and fluent story, as most either forgo it altogether and focus on the watch, or hire somebody who cooks up a marketing story that is more fiction than fact.

Hefty competition

The task Von Gunten set for himself was to create a mechanical watch with a power reserve that is as long as possible. This sounds easy but is quite difficult to achieve. A two-day power reserve is more or less standard these days; some brands can double this, and fewer push the envelope and triple it, but getting over a week, things become really tough.

That doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been done. A. Lange & Söhne created the Lange 31, which had a power reserve of 31 days. It is an impressive feature, but it also made it the largest watch the brand has made to date, with dimensions that would even impress a Panerai, being 45.9mm in diameter and 15.9mm thick.

The problem is that an extensive power reserve needs long mainsprings, and usually a lot of them. And these take up a lot of space. The competition, if you could call it that, chose a different configuration but they were also quite large. Jacob & Co’s Quenttin comes to mind (also 31-day power reserve), Rebellion’s T-1000 (with a 41-day power reserve) and Hublot’s MP-05 LaFerrari (a whopping 50-day power reserve).



With 1,000 hours/41 days of power reserve, the Haute-Rive Honoris I is impressive yet doesn’t set any records, however, it outshines the competition.

Haute-Rive Honoris I

The reason for this is that Von Gunten’s Honoris, as he named the model, needs only a single mainspring for its 1,000 hours of autonomy. Thanks to this, he could make the movement a mere 7.75mm thick. With that, he could control the dimensions of the watch itself, giving it a diameter of 42.5mm and a height of 11.95mm. This makes the Honoris the most svelte and wearable of the very long power reserve watches.

Haute-Rive Honoris I

For the sake of design

For good measure, Von Gunten included a tourbillon – a flying tourbillon at that. This is not uncommon, as the complexity of watches with such long power reserves demands a hefty price tag and collectors who can afford such purchases usually part a little easier with their money when it comes with some additional bragging rights. The flying tourbillon not only balances out the design on the dial nicely, it also adds a great deal of depth to it as well, as Von Gunten placed the entire construction on top of the dial.

Haute-Rive Honoris I

This is not the only thing we find on the dial side, as there is also part of the gear train under the central bridge, the charming long crown stem with its flowing pinion with a column wheel to select the different functions, and the ‘wheel of time’ dominating the twelve o’clock position. This wheel transfers the power from the mainspring to the gear train, linking the two in a very tangible way. It is also the huge mainspring that pushes all these elements to the dial side of this Haute-Rive as there is no space left below.

Haute-Rive Honoris I

While I feel that he made the right call, I still wonder how the Honoris would be if it was only about the power reserve. One of the things we would have more of is that gorgeous dial. You can’t possibly capture its true beauty in photographs, no matter how good of a photographer you are. It is some of the best grand feu enamel I have seen in a while, especially the black version, which is incredibly difficult to get perfect.

Haute-Rive Honoris I assembly



Nice to interact with

As mentioned, the Honoris uses a column wheel to select the functions which is operated by a pusher at the side of the case. The movement is not wound by the crown, but by rotating the bezel. This is an extremely satisfying activity, and the only downside is that you only have to do it once a month.

1,000-hour power reserve indicator on the back of the Haute-Rive Honoris I

Equally satisfying is the back of the watch, which Von Gunten dedicated entirely to the power reserve indicator.

Haute-Rive Honoris I

Thanks to its clever construction it is very easy to read very precisely. The finishing is like the front, superb in every way.

Haute-Rive Honoris I

This makes you almost believe that Honoris 1 might be even a bit too good to be the first offering of a new brand. How will Von Gunten surpass such a beautiful marriage of ingenuity and beauty? He will most likely find a way to do just that, as this is what his career in watchmaking has always been about.

For more information, please visit https://haute-rive-watches.ch/en/honoris-1-en/

Quick Facts Haute-Rive Honoris I
Case: 42.5 x 11.95 mm, 18k yellow or white gold case, black or white dial in grand feu enamel

Movement: Caliber HR01, 1,000-hour power reserve, 18,000 vph/2.5 Hz, flying tourbillon, hand-wound through the bezel
Functions: hours, minutes; 360 degree power reserve indicator on the back
Production: Limited to around 10 pieces per year
Price: CHF 148,000

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