In 2012, when introducing the first of the Hydro-Mechanical watches, the H1, the young and mad brand called HYT created quite a mess in the watchmaking world. Those guys get the strange idea to equipped their creations with the worst enemy of a watch: liquid. We tested this watch and we felt in love with it, just because of the rationality and serious of the concept. Back in 2013, only 1 year after their first attempt, HYT brought an even more exciting successor in the name of the HYT H2 Titanium Black DLC and we’ve been testing it again.
The HYT H1 Red2 we handled for a few weeks gave us some clues on how serious this concept was. When this watch came to the world, we felt first a great excitement but also some scepticism. How come a brand just registered would be able to achieve such a complex idea. Of course, the HYT team is composed of watchmakers and talented engineers (with their sister company Preciflex). But even…
However, they did it – and they did it well! The project is clearly achieved. We’ve been extremely surprised to see that such an idea could have been possible within a so short time and such a level of seriousness. This could have been a toy or a watch made to be locked in a safe. Not at all! It could even be seen as a sports watch, solid and made to be used as a proper daily beater. Of course, the development was not that easy and HYT had to face several industrialisation and reliability issues – that are now fixed. What is even more surprising is how fast the brand introduced a second watch, using the same concept of a fluidic indication but with an even more complicated movement and display. It was in 2013 (one year only after the H1) and it is the watch we’re reviewing today.
The HYT H2 brings back the main interest of the HYT H1 (the inaugural watch of the brand): the fluidic indication of the time. While most of the watches are displaying time with hands rotating on a central axis – or at least with discs or satellites – it remains a mechanical module actuated by gears, wheels and levers. As complicated as these displays could be – take a look at our ‘other displays’ section – it remains a game of mechanics. With HYT – regardless we’re talking about the H1 or H2 – the watchmakers are introducing something totally senseless and even dangerous for a watch: a liquid. In a circular tube located around the dial, a liquid runs to indicate the hours. Already seen in the context of the HYT H1, the HYT H2 brings that same concept in a watch even more complicated, born from cooperation with the reputed APRP manufacture – Audemars-Piguet Renaud & Papi.
The HYT H2 shows more functions, a better integration of the fluidic module, now directly into the movement, a longer power reserve and a stupendous level of details. The first H1 was made to create the buzz. The H2 is made to establish the reputation of the brand and prove to the rest of the industry how serious is the concept.
Features and Display
The main feature of the HYT H2 is, like the HYT H1, the regulator-style display with its capillary filled with 2 liquids: a fluorescent one and a translucent one. The timing-indication is divided in two: the hours are indicated by the fluid while the minutes are showed by a central hand – a novelty compared to the HYT H1, as the minutes are not located in a sub-dial at 12 with a classical rotating display. The minute hand is now bigger and positioned in the middle of the watch. It has to be read on its own sapphire track, located just inside the green tube. However, it’s not a classical hand anymore. Between 5:30 and 6:30, it will make a small jump and continue its journey around the dial.
How does the fluid technology work?
This was part of our HYT H1 Red2 review.
The hours indication relies on 3 separated elements: a glass tube, 2 liquids and 2 pistons/reservoirs. The idea that led to the H1/H2 consisted of two flexible reservoirs fixed to each end of a capillary. In one was an aqueous liquid filled with fluorescein (here in red), and in the other, a transparent viscous liquid. To keep them separate: the repulsive force of the molecules in each liquid, with a meniscus to mark the boundary between the two. As the hours go by, the fluorescent liquid advances. The meniscus, in the shape of a half moon, marks the breaking point with the other fluid in the tube, indicating the time. At 18:00, the fluorescent liquid comes back to its original position, going backwards.
The two bellows create a pressure or a depression to make the liquids move. While the time goes forward, the left piston pushes the fluorescent green liquid into the glass tube while the right piston expands. Once arrived at 18:00, the process reverses and the right piston compresses to send the green liquid backwards to its original position/reservoir.
The main constraint was to create two liquids that couldn’t mix with each other, even in high or low temperatures or various pressure conditions or when the watch undergoes a shock.
The APRP involvement is easy to spot. The movement is fully open and shows an incredible depth. All the technical elements – gear train, escapement module and pistons – are fully exposed. We also find the typically APRP crown indicator at 3 and something new: a temperature indicator at 9:30. The last improvement compared to the HYT H1 is the expanded power reserve. APRP teams are known for their strong mastery of energy and consumption of power and the HYT H2 shows it with an 8-day power reserve.
Case and Strap
The HYT H2 – here in the Titanium Black DLC edition – is clearly a massive watch. It’s case, made in light and solid titanium and coated in black with Diamond Like Carbon technology, measures an impressive 48.8mm x 17.9mm. That may be imposing on paper but the watch remains however quite easy to strap – considering its size of course. The case brings back the same DNA as the HYT H1 but feels a bit cleaner. It allows focusing more on the dial and indications. The milled bezel of the H1 is totally removed and replaced by a highly cambered sapphire crystal that goes all over the dial. The casebands and the lugs are fully brushed – expect some polished edges, to boost the design. The crown is still located at 3 and is protected by a large and skelotonized band on the side of the case.
Just like its predecessor, the HYT H2 may be a concept watch and a technological demonstration but it is also a sports watch. The HYT H2 comes with a screwed case back and a screw-down crown that make the watch water-resistant up to 50 meters. Of course, it won’t replace your Tudor Pelagos or Omega Seamaster and we doubt that the owners of an HYT H2 will use it as a proper tool watch. However, the watch feels resistant and solid. It can be used and abused (a bit). The HYT H2 comes on a black rubber strap with deployant buckle, that confirms the toolish aspect of this extreme timepiece.
It is also available in several editions: Black DLC and Pink Gold with green liquid, White gold with blue liquid, Platinum and titanium with red liquid and in Titanium with gun metal PVD treatment and blue liquid.
Movement (and dial)
For once, we won’t do a separated section for the dial and hands, as both are fully integrated in the movement. The HYT H1 was more classical in its approach. The movement, created together with Chronode, consisted of two modules (the classical horological one and the fluidic one, with the bellows and the tube) linked together with a cam mechanism.
In the context of the HYT H2, these two modules are now fully integrated in a single movement. The first thing that changes compared to the first creation of HYT is the position of the pistons / bellows, that are now positioned in a V – that reminds us of an Harley Davidson engine. The positioning of the bellows in a V-shape optimises the integration of the interface, which connects the watch mechanisms with the fluidic system. This system can be seen on the dial at 9. It is composed of a snail wheel with an increasing diameter that creates a pressure on an arm that compresses the left bellow, in order to push the liquid in the capillary. In comparison with the H1, this architecture leaves more space so the minute hand can be placed at centre position and the balance spring resides on its black bridge, in the upper half of the dial.
The escapement module is not the only mechanical part exposed, as the gear train and the several wheels that actuate the large minute hand are also fully visible on the front. The dial shows an exceptional depth and gives the HYT H2 something extremely futuristic, industrial and mechanical. The full black finish of the parts is enlighten by classical Haute Horlogerie finishes: polished bevelled angles and straight graining on the steel parts and wheels. The multiple small bridges are made in titanium, skeletonized and Black DLC coated with a microblasted finish.
Two other complications are added to the movement. The first is a crown position indicator (that helps to spot the APRP cooperation) with 3 positions: N for Neutral – H for setting the time – R for winding. The second complication is a temperature indicator. As the watch is filled with liquid, high or low temperatures can affect the viscosity and thus, the displacement of the liquids.
Compared to the front, the back of the movement appears to be simpler. It mainly shows the two massive barrels that provide 8 days (192 hours) of energy to the HYT H2. Considering that the barrels have to actuate constantly 2 bellows and a liquid, this result is quite impressive. The amount of remaining power can be read through an indicator located directly on the left barrel. The tighter is the main spring (so the closer from the centre), the more power you have left. Simple but not really precise.
- An even more exciting and accomplished project
- The animations on the dial (jumping minute hand, retrograde fluid, balance wheel)
- The complexity and depth of the movement
- The extreme look and superb finishing
- The link with the first HYT in a completely different design
- The robustness for such a concept watch and the possible daily use
- The legibility of the power reserve
- The massive diameter and thickness
- The non-natural readability of the minute hand
- The temperature indicator is a very good idea… but what to do in case of under or over temperature?
What to think about such a watch and how to have the minimal amount of objectivity required when you’re in front of such a complex and unusual piece of engineering? It’s like being a car journalist in front of the latest Lamborghini or Pagani. Such sport cars or concept watches are dream objects, empty of reason and rationality. First, the price categorizes it to a level that is unattainable for 99,99% of us – thus, it becomes an object that we are craving for and that will hide his faults, just because it makes us dream.
If we have to add our objectiveness to the equation, we have to admit that the HYT H2 is an extremely accomplished project, with a superb modern approach of horology, an extreme and unusual look, a really interesting technological content and that remains, despites all these elements, totally achieved, robust and wearable in (almost) every occasions. It however has the flaws of most of the concept watches, meaning that legibility is not as good as a classical watch (the minute really has to be read on the track, as it’s position is not natural) and it lacks a bit of elegance – something that is less visible on the HYT H2 white gold edition. However, competing with an extra-slim JLC is not the goal of HYT – and that’s something that is not going to end soon, as the brand revealed recently another, crazier watch, the HYT H3.
The HYT H2 Titanium Black DLC is a non-limited edition and it is priced at 110.000 Euros. More details on HYTWatches.com.