HYT Soonow: the value of each instant
HYT offers an unusual interpretation of time: “A fluid time that continually transitions from soon to now,” as François Nunez, the company’s artistic director, explains.
At a time when watchmakers are relentlessly pursuing a goal of absolute precision and revolutionary performance, HYT prefers to follow its own path. The brand has its own idiosyncratic vision of time, and its watches are designed around the concept of restoring time. “Our aim is to give time a meaning. We see ourselves not as ‘timekeepers’ but as ‘time tellers’,” confides François Nunez.
But what is the story behind this brand new collection, which seems to be all about immediacy? “This collection is called ‘Soonow’, with just one ‘n’, to show the idea of a fluid time that passes from ‘soon’ to ‘now’ continuously,” explains François Nunez. “It’s your story. It’s a reminder of the importance of living for the present moment, but it’s also the power not to take yourself too seriously,” he adds. So the concept of time is entirely personal, and depends on the meaning you choose to give it.
In a world where the virtual reigns, the idea of three-dimensionality is inescapable. The 3D concept is also at the heart of the watchmaker’s thought processes. With the Soonow watch, HYT has taken three-dimensionality to a point where the dial merges with the case to form an indivisible whole. The glass capillary that shows the time follows the skull motif in the centre, as it does in the Skull collection watches. But the angular shape of the skull posed quite a problem for its designers, because no one had done anything quite like this before – not even glassware laboratories, or the master glassmakers of Murano. After extensive research, the brand developed its own technique, and now has its own experts who shape the glass by hand.
Soonow with blue fluidic hours © HYT
HYT didn’t stop at just changing the shape of the capillary, it also altered the direction of the two immiscible liquids that show the time. “Contrary to our usual practice, the transparent liquid indicates elapsed time, and the coloured liquid represents the future. What we wanted to show was that the past, because of your experience and the maturity it gives you, is over, and therefore transparent. What matters in the present is the tension between these two moments, but it’s also the idea that the responsibility you have is to the life that lies ahead of you,” he says. The minutes hand has completely disappeared.
But the brand’s innovation doesn’t stop there. The titanium dial features a unique design made up of 313 18K white gold (model with green fluidic hours) or yellow gold pins (model with blue fluidic hours). “It’s goldsmithing, really, because each pin has to be placed individually, almost like setting a jewel. Not only do we have to respect the positioning of the perforations, but we also have to observe the volume, so that, whether you look at it from above or from the side, the skull has the correct profile,” explains François Nunez. Clearly, the timepiece is meticulously executed, down to the smallest details, and its appearance differs depending on the viewing angle. “Simply changing your perspective can transform the skull into a kind of skyline, as if you had flown into JFK and were driving into Manhattan,” he continues. While the upper part of the dial is in relief, the sides offer the opposite aesthetic, being perforated with around 1000 tiny holes. The traditional generous Arabic numerals have been replaced with pointillistic numbers, written out in full as words. The brand’s intention is to break with a fractured and suspended vision of time. “When it’s 9.30, you’re between 9 and 10 o’clock. It’s no longer 9 o’clock. We are part of a continuity, which is why we wanted to show this idea of time as constant progression.”
Soonow with green fluidic hours © HYT
The skull motif was also not chosen at random. It has been a signature of the brand for a long time, and a feature of many previous collections. “This skull looks a bit threatening, but that’s deliberate. Skulls are inherently unpleasant. We tried to make it friendlier with two pieces of information operating from the eyes,” notes François Nunez. Each eye socket contains a rotating disc that fulfils a specific function. The left eye replaces the seconds hand. It performs one rotation per minute, and displays the words “soon” and “now” alternately, to remind the wearer of the importance of making the most of each moment. Contrary to received wisdom, skulls are more about celebrating life than death. The right eye contains the power reserve indicator. When the watch is fully wound, the eye has a rather dilated pupil, which appears to fix the wearer with a steely glare. As the watch winds down, the pupil changes colour, becoming increasingly bloodshot. François Nunez says this always raises a smile, whenever he gives a demo.
This new and innovative creation by HYT comes in two versions, both with a diameter of 48.8 mm and a depth of 20.8 mm. The first has a steel case with blue fluidic hours and orange accents, while the second sports the brand’s signature colours on a black DLC case with a fluorescent green fluid. These new timepieces are equipped with an exclusive hand-wound mechanical movement, which beats at 28,800 vph and provides a power reserve of 65 hours.
The stunning new collection highlights the nature of time as both fleeting and continuous.