If you’re following the independent watchmaking scene, you were certainly aware of the difficulties encountered by HYT Watches, the UFO of the watchmaking industry, creating watches with fluidic indications. After a dormant period of about one year, we can now say it loud and clear: HYT is back in action with new partners to back the business (Kairos Technology Switzerland SA) and a new CEO, Davide Cerrato… A name that should certainly ring a bell. And today, the brand presents the first watch of its new era, the HYT Hastroid. And we were able to spend some time with the Green Nebula edition.
HYT – from concept to rebirth
Behind HYT is a concept, a vision of displaying time in an unprecedented and clearly unnatural manner. Instead of using traditional hands revolving around a dial, HYT Watches, created in 2012, uses an entirely novel display based on fluids… Liquids in a watch (along with magnetism, the worst enemy of a mechanical movement)? Yes, that was the whole idea. While there is indeed a rather (relatively speaking) classic mechanical movement in all HYT watches, used as the driving force and regulation of the indications, the display relies on an additional module composed of bellows and a capillary tube in which two non-miscible fluids travel in a retrograde way to indicate the passage of the time, with the point where the two fluids meet representing the current hour.
Since the development of the original concept in 2012, not only has the brand presented multiple watches with evolutions of the movement and fluidic mechanism but also some improvements to solve some important issues. The main one was the expansion of the fluids due to the changes in temperature – remember that a watch is either worn on a wrist or stored, creating changes in temperature. For that, the brand added a thermal compensator inside one of the bellows.
Following the presentation of the H1 model, we saw the H2 watch, the rather crazy H3 watch and the slightly simplified H4 watch. A new direction was taken in 2017/18, with a rejuvenated design inaugurated in the H0 model. Smoother, simpler. In 2019, the HYT H5 was launched with a new movement with, once again, some important mechanical updates to make the indication more precise and improve legibility. In late 2020, however, the brand had to face some difficulties, but since then, not only is there a new shareholder but there’s also a new CEO, Davide Cerrato (ex-Tudor, ex-Montblanc). Since I’ve known the man for years, I knew he would be a good fit. Passionate about anything science-fiction, Cerrato is bound to inject some fresh air into the HYT collections.
The new HYT Hastroid Green Nebula
This new watch, the Hastroid, marks the beginning of a new journey for HYT. It is made with a new design in mind, with new inspirations, with an entirely new case. But also, the overall inspiration goes back to the roots of the company, with a return to avant-garde, modern, sharp shapes. The HYT Hastroid is designed like a spaceship. It’s big, bright and bold. After all, HYT’s crazy fluidic display needs this boldness.
The case of the new HYT Hastroid, here presented in its Green Nebula edition, is all about architectural, science-fiction inspirations. The case is angular, layered, and mixes materials. It’s also fairly aerial, with an openworked construction. Yet, it’s a statement. It measures a non-negligible 48mm diameter and 17.90mm height, as well as having a total length of 58.30mm. Yes, the watch is big and bold on the wrist. Surprisingly, on Frank’s 18cm wrist (he was the model for the photos), the watch appears far more comfortable and, dare I say, a bit more compact than numbers would suggest.
The overall design has been entirely redefined with the HYT Hastroid. No more pebble-shaped sapphire crystal. The new watch is more angular, almost square-ish yet the hollowed lugs add a certain aerial feel to this case. The top surface is now much flatter and leaves a clear view of the indications. To make the watch slightly less “bulky”, Cerrato has created a sort of central container that is held by a square-ish frame, with the sides of the watch opened to reveal different textures.
The case of our HYT Hastroid Green Nebula is made of a combination of brushed, black-coated titanium and carbon fibre, making it visually less imposing and also lighter on the wrist. A traditional feature, the crown is positioned at 2 o’clock and protected by a module that runs along the side of the case. The multi-layer “sandwich-like” construction allows also a clean integration of the rubber strap, which is attached between the two upper layers of the case – here presented in green rubber, but a black rubber with green Alcantara inserts is also available.
The dial of the HYT Hastroid has also received attention. The design has been redefined here, too, with a comeback of the openworked, textured structure revealing most of the mechanical elements of the watch. The mainplate is hollowed and covered by a sapphire plate; thus, both the mechanical section (on top) and the fluidic section (the bellows on the lower part and the capillary tube around the dial) are entirely visible. The movement is framed by a black-coated plate with a grid pattern, on which bold Arabic numerals filled with bright green luminous material are applied.
Compared to previous watches by the brand, the main evolution of the HYT Hastroid concerns the display of the minutes. The hand is now centrally positioned, allowing for maximum legibility. It is flanked by two classic indications, the small seconds and the power reserve. And, of course, the raison d’être of HYT, the fluidic indication of the hours, is still present around the dial and acts as a retrograde indication, jumping back to its initial position when the green fluid reaches 6 o’clock.
The fluidic indication is still powered by the same idea as before. Two bellows, positioned on the lower part of the movement, create a movement of pressure on the fluids. The left-side bellow/piston module pushes the green fluid into the capillary tube, and as time passes, it pushes the transparent fluid into the right-side bellow. The point where the two fluids meet, the two being non-miscible, marks the current hour. This system requires a highly water-resistant mechanism – the entire fluidic module is 10,000 times more hermetic than a traditional dive watch (at least, according to the brand). The system is thus sealed. Thermal expansion is also compensated by a clever device integrated into one of the bellows.
Powering our HYT Hastroid Green Nebula is the Calibre HYT 501-CM, a movement that should sound familiar to fans of the brand since it is the same technical base developed with renowned watchmaker Eric Coudray for the H5 and then refined for the occasion of the launch of the Hastroid. Besides the change from an off-centred to a central minute, the decoration of the movement has been updated, with black-coated plates and bridges, as well as satin-finished and rhodium-plated moving parts.
The movement is still made of two separate modules connected by a lever. On top is a mechanical engine with a frequency of 4Hz and a power reserve of 72 hours. This mechanical module serves two functions. First, it regulates the time to deliver a precise indication. Second, it is a driving force for the fluidic indication, giving its power and delivering a constant displacement in order to act on the motion of the fluids. The connection with the fluidic device is made thanks to an oversized lever, a curved feeler-spindle or ‘”sensor” enabling the orchestration of the mechanism, together with an intricately shaped cam with 13 positions to synchronise the hour and minute indications with precision. This sensor transforms the circular motion of the movement’s wheels into a linear motion that pushes the bellow and thus the fluid.
Availability & Price
Behind this new design also lies a new strategy for the brand. The production will be more concentrated, with fewer editions, fewer models manufactured, and a retailer network that will be more condensed, strategies that might add to its desirability.
The HYT Hastroid will be released in four different limited editions of 27 pieces each – other models will be made in titanium or in combinations of materials that will include bronze. For now, the brand has presented this Green Nebula edition with its black and green colour scheme, which is probably the best choice for the brand’s relaunch. This HYT Hastroid Green Nebula (ref. H02698-A) is thus limited to 27 pieces. It will be priced at CHF 70,000 (excl. taxes).
For more details, please visit www.hytwatches.com.