HYT, the Hydro Mechanical Horologists, have always been non-conformists in the way they see and tell time, shattering horological rules numerous times to deliver iconic watches such as the H1 and the Skull. Gregory Dourde, CEO & Partner, HYT, explains how this year again, the brand has made waves – both literal and metaphorical – with its latest offering, the H0.
Q: Tell us about your latest release, the H0.
A: The 0 (zero) in H0 refers to the origin of everything – of life, of water, which is the basis of all life that has around 70 per cent of water. Liquid is the origin of everything and liquids are the DNA of HYT; we are the hydro mechanicals, with liquid and indication being the factors that differentiate us in the industry. That is why we created this watch – to emphasise the liquids and give first place to the liquids; they are the stars. This is a three-dimensional unique indicator of time; that is why we made it visible, the capillary looks like it is growing out of earth like a tree. The three-dimensional shape of the capillary helps us to give visibility from the side, which enables to tell time even from the side. Thus, there is a three-dimensional effect and 360°visibility of time.
We opened the dial to reveal the bellows that belong to the fluidic device; this became iconic to the watch and we have hidden the movement. The movement is the star of the H2, and the H3, while the H1 and H4 have movements that are visible. In this watch, the stars, or the protagonists, are the liquids and that is why we have invented a new design code to highlight the visibility of our fluidic DNA. That is the ethos and development behind this watch, which is really focused on the liquid. We have industrialised one of our movements and for this watch we wanted to have a price positioning that opens a new market, and which opens the possibility of new customers. That is why we have positioned this watch at CHF39,000.
This is an important strategic decision that we have taken; when you buy an H2 or an H3, you get a good manufacture mechanical movement, which costs a lot. Whereas here, focusing on our core technology, we have the opportunity to present this amazing new and disruptive design – really contemporary horology that is not very rooted in the past – from HYT at an entry price level.
Q: Is the H0 based on the H1 movement?
A:There would be some evolutions of the movement in the first year, for the prototypes and collections that we are launching. But in the future, they would be based on our own mechanical movement that we have conceived and now industrialised. The shape is minimalist – based on the “less is more” concept – and has a very contemporary design. On the dial, we have these designs that are suggestive of waves. It has the same diameter as the H1, the visibility has really improved, and it looks smaller than the H1 and softer. Thanks to the lack of horns, it fits really well on the wrist.
Q: Is this a limited edition watch?
A:No; we just took the decision to position the watch at CHF 39,000. We are presenting three editions of the watch – one with a green liquid and black dial, black DLC case made of titanium; we have the silver model with blue liquid, silver-brushed dial. The white dial and blue liquid bring out the shape of the waves more clearly here, while the contrast of silver and blue highlight the visibility. In the final model, we have three colours – silver, black, and orange; this watch has black liquid and as the black liquid is not visible in the night, we have put Super-LumiNova under the capillary so that even in the dark, you can determine the time, with a titanium case. This also opens the doors for bespoke watches as we can customise as per the client’s wishes. It opens new territories of creativity, because with this shape and integration we can really explore new areas.
Q: What are the other ways that you can tell time using liquids?
A:Unfortunately, I cannot show you the designs; the Skull is not only an aesthetic element; there, we bent the capillary itself so that the indication of the hour is the skull itself. Imagine if you developed a hand to move and indicate the hour. We were inspired by the photograph of a river in Botswana – taken from the sky by Yann Arthus-Bertrand the famous French photographer – and the way the river flows. This is the property of the liquid: that it goes wherever you guide it; this gives us a lot of leeway in determining the shape. This means that we have this absolutely great treasure that we can utilise in the future, in terms of creativity.
Q: Did you expect the Skull to be that successful when you first unveiled it?
A:No; it is a concept watch. Even when we took off the minutes hand, you can still tell the time approximate to within five minutes. It became our most iconic line, contributing to nearly 25 to 30 per cent of our sales. Now, with our iPhones, etc., there are more and more ways of reading the time, but we are interested in people who think of their wrist as a playground. While with the Skull, you can read the time approximately, the watch actually is more a reflection of your personality and what you want to project to the world.
Q: Are there any plans for making a smaller version of the Skull?
A: Definitely yes, we plan to one day come out with a smaller version of the Skull. We have been discussing this; currently, the width of the Skull is 51 MM, which is quite big, and there are possibilities of making this smaller. Sooner or later, we will unveil a smaller version.
Q: Do you expect H0 to be the main line – in terms of sales and quantity – for HYT in the future?
A:We do expect it to become iconic; it has a very easily recognisable design, something that represents our DNA. We have been listening to a lot of people who feel that at this price positioning, we have something big. Unfortunately, I cannot see the future; only time will tell and our customers will decide.
Q: Do you feel vindicated at the brand’s continued success in the face of people’s skepticism when you first exhibited at Baselworld?
A:What is important is that we have a strong structure of shareholders with a long-term vision, who did not invest looking for quick profits and exits, and a good number of orders. We – HYT and Preciflex – did a round of financing one year ago that was quite successful, something quite rare in the watchmaking industry for an independent brand; both long-term vision and sustainability.