The watch brand HYT – also known as Hydro Mechanical Horologists – is truly representative of haute horlogerie 4.0. With beginnings as recent as 2012, HYT is still a fairly young brand in the industry, but it’s also one of the most innovative. Join us as we take a closer look at what’s behind the name HYT.
The H1 was the first model to come from this young Swiss watch manufacturer, making its debut at Baselworld 2012. We’ll discuss the model in more detail below, but in the year of its introduction, the up-and-coming luxury watch brand was awarded three prestigious prizes, including most innovative watch at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, seeing as HYT uses a method to display the time that is completely unique in the luxury watch world, and one that has earned the brand cult status among its devotees: They use fluid to tell the time. Yes, you read that right, fluid in a luxury watch. A tinted fluid moves around the dial via a system of capillaries and tubes to indicate the hours, while the minutes and seconds are shown using more or less traditional hands. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a 40% drop in sales for the luxury watch brand, resulting in the need to file for bankruptcy in 2020. But fear not, HYT is here to stay. Thanks to then-CEO Davide Cerrato (now CEO of Bremont and formerly responsible for giving Tudor a new image), the brand was reinvigorated and is ready to take flight again. The watchmaker consistently has intriguing models in their portfolio, but is this really the future of the watch industry?
HYT Conical Tourbillon Black Eklipse: A Galaxy on Your Wrist
With a diameter of 48 mm, a lug-to-lug of 52.3 mm, and a thickness of a stately 25.15 mm, the HYT Conical Tourbillon Black Eklipse is anything but modest. That said, its extraordinary dimensions are necessary to accommodate the plethora of innovations and surprises contained inside. The HYT Conical Tourbillon Black Eklipse isn’t a watch that you can wear subtly on your wrist every day. No, this is a statement piece that will immediately out you as a watch enthusiast who is in the know. The matte black case is comprised of 66 parts and crafted from carbon fiber and black-coated titanium. Of course, the manufacturer has turned to its signature feature on this watch, too: displaying the time via liquid. A bellows system pumps two non-mixing fluids into a tube to indicate the respective hour along with green luminous numerals mounted over a grid-like structure around the dial’s edge. A small matte black hand indicates the minutes. The absolute highlight is the eponymous conical tourbillon, which can be viewed rotating clockwise every 30 seconds without any need for magnification. This impressive motion is accompanied by three rotating green balls that each turn at a different speed. The HYT Conical Tourbillon Black Eklipse is powered by the caliber T01-TC, a hand-wound movement that consists of 533 components and offers a power reserve of 40 hours. The case back provides a glimpse of the impressive technology at work. In line with the overall color scheme, the HYT Conical Tourbillon Black Eklipse comes on a black rubber strap with green stitching. This fascinating watch could literally be described as a galaxy on your wrist. The model has a limited run of just 8 pieces worldwide and is priced at an eye-watering 335,000 CHF (approx. $375,000).
HYT H1: The Classic
This next HYT sounds like a downright bargain by comparison: The HYT H1 “only” costs $22,000 on the secondary market. This timepiece is something of a classic in the HYT portfolio. After all, it was the very first model the brand presented at Baselworld 2012, causing a sensation in the world of watches. The concept of a water clock dates back to ancient Egypt and was used to measure time more than 3,500 years ago. However, taking the H1 from idea to actual timepiece was anything but straightforward and presented the designers and watchmakers at HYT with completely new challenges. The resulting timepiece made the brand famous overnight and won it several prestigious awards. The titanium HYT H1 measures 48 mm across and stands 18 mm tall. While the hours are displayed in green fluid – a typical feature of HYT watches – the H1 relies on a large subdial for the minutes. The seconds display is on the right side of the dial and vaguely reminiscent of a water turbine. The power reserve indicator sits opposite and displays how much of the 65-hour reserve remains. The imposing movement can be viewed at work through the sapphire crystal case back, and will keep you flipping the watch over again and again to gaze in awe. With a depth rating of 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft), the HYT H1 is robust enough for everyday use – if you are brave enough to wear it, that is.
HYT H0: Not So Bold
The final HYT watch I’d like to talk about is rather reserved – at least when you compare it to the other watches in the HYT lineup. I am particularly impressed by the Red Khaki version. This 48.8 mm anthracite DLC-coated stainless steel case has a khaki dial and matching rubber strap – a hue that is underrepresented in the watch world, in my opinion. I’m really fond of the red fluid hour display used on this model. The minutes, seconds, and power reserve indicator are each shown on a subdial, while the lower part of the dial offers a glimpse of the movement within. Of course, you can see the intricate details in all their glory once you flip the watch over to the sapphire crystal case back. The HYT H0 Red Khaki is very rare, limited to just 25 examples worldwide. Expect to find a market price around $27,000.
HYT: The future of the watch industry?
Isn’t everyone pleased when the watch industry comes up with something a bit unexpected? HYT watches are works of art for the wrist and will easily inspire any watch fan who has a thing for unconventional, bold designs. Between us, however, I don’t personally believe that HYT’s technologies will take the watch world by storm. The models are far too specialized and bold for the masses. Plus, the pricing model makes the watches only accessible to a very select clientele. But for those who can afford them, HYT offers unique and rare timepieces that are nothing like anything else on the market today. To be honest, I don’t think the fluid time display will necessarily catch on, either; there is no denying that the method is unique, but classic hour hands are much easier and faster to read. Despite all that, I’m delighted that manufacturers like HYT exist. In the world of watches, sometimes you just have to make things more complicated to make them worthwhile.
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