It’s not that there is no innovation in the watch industry. There is. From using lighter materials, to tapping into more sources of power, to, miraculously, finding ways to improve accuracy, horology is, of course, obsessed with improvement. And that’s not even mentioning smartwatches, a niche that is nothing if not innovative. But, even compared with all that, what HYT has done, and is doing, is remarkable, different, and new.
They’ve tapped into a well of technology and imagination, and created timepieces that fully integrate liquid and mechanics. Telling time with the most ancient means available—the movement of liquid. Maybe it’s that connection to the past that has made their mission so engaging. While other watchmakers look forward in order to move forward, HYT meets the future while splitting its focus between the future and the past.
It’s unique and powerful. There are no limits.
Now, never satisfied, HYT—and their assembled group of scientists, watchmakers, and business masterminds have released the H3. It’s a watch like no other. Visually arresting, opening a window into some steampunk future even the most gifted fiction writers couldn’t imagine.
“Imagine,” says HYT CEO Vincent Perriard, “who would not be seduced by a powerful watch — really, a toy for men — with an elegant design, where a manufactured movement activates two pistons — like a real machine — that allows a liquid to travel through a capillary with a diameter less than 1mm, knowing that this liquid indicates the time?” And while it’s true that Perriard clearly understands luxury, and the men who seek it, he also knows he’s not done yet.
When was the moment when you were first inspired to be a part of HYT and Hydro Mechanical watches?
I had an old dream in mind, almost a fantasy – to create a mechanical watch incorporating a liquid. I had been close to achieving this aim by creating the Quantum Gravity at Concord, which featured liquid in a tourbillon watch. But we were still far from what we were going to be able to achieve with HYT. The brand vision is unique: to combine a liquid with a mechanical watch. It’s unique and powerful. There are no limits.
Tell me about finding that perfect balance between aesthetics and technology.
We started everything from scratch. As we were introducing a revolutionary technology in the industry, we wanted to bring a bold, but traditional shape to the watch that could be masculine enough to reflect our brand DNA; it is why the H1 and the H2 have a round case.
Afterwards, we created a clear separation between the fluidic module (located on the south of the watch) and the watchmaking movement (on the north part) inside the watchcase.
Speaking of technology, the H2 has found some medical applications?
The H1 and the H2 possess the same technology (a fluidic module with a pumping system powered by two bellows and a piston). Given the huge amount of research (and investment) poured into this new technology, it is hardly surprising that the sister-company of HYT, Preciflex, wants to see it applied beyond the realms of watchmaking.
We were all so fascinated by making a dream come true…
The Preciflex’s micro and meso-fluidic expertise, its growing patent library and its in-house skills in fields as varied as fluid mechanics, micro-mechanics, electronics, chemistry — the company is now producing its own fluids — and optics make it predestined to adapt the technology for applications such as the diffusion of liquids in cosmetics, and micro-injections for the medical industry.
How does having so many different teams working on one watch change things?
Our scientists and watchmakers’ teams were – at the beginning of the adventure – not used to working together. It was one of the main challenges we faced. I can tell you now that these teams were actually two worlds, two ways of working, two ways of thinking… but we were all so fascinated by making a dream come true that finally we form now one team with people trying to do their best to understand and respect these differences.
Tell me about the idea behind the Skull watch.
The main idea behind the Skull Collection was to propose another capillary’s shape.
Even if the Skull speaks for itself, its development, however, was anything but obvious. The use of a capillary, which carries a fluid to act as the hour marker, is a concept mastered by HYT and its partners. However, any significant changes in form require extensive background work. For the Skull, the skull shape of the tube, which measures less than one millimetre in diameter, was a significant challenge in itself. The issue centred on the capillary’s four angles, two of which are almost 90° at the base. These curves meant that bending the glass was a particularly delicate task.
We are one of very few independent brands that propose cutting edge watches.
Their vertical structure, developed for the H1 watch, served as our starting point. However, we then had to re-examine how to generate enough power to move through these sharp angles, whilst ensuring that the fluid always indicates the correct time, moving at the right speed and with perfect regularity over twelve hours.
As people on the cutting edge of horology, do you feel that enough brands are experimenting?
We are one of very few independent brands that propose cutting edge watches. And yes, there is a need, I believe, for more true innovation, either in design or technology. We have chosen both. In fact, if you think about it, HYT is really bringing true, understandable, visible innovation. Innovation that people understand easily by looking at the product. In our industry, we have seen too many times brands claiming “innovation,” but it is usually innovation for true connoisseurs, experts or extreme watch aficionados. With HYT, you get it in around 10 seconds: you see liquids, you see a mechanical movement and you understand that it has never been done before.