HYT How To Stop Time
The HYT Flow breaks light, conventions — and the laws of physics?
There aren’t many watch brands or watch company CEOs out there willing to incorporate within their timepieces mind-bending ideas about existentialist approaches to time. But HYT is not your average watch brand, and Gregory Dourde is not your average watch company CEO (as you’ll have realised just by following HYT on Instagram, which I strongly advise).
Flow © HYT
The new HYT Flow was launched just recently, incorporating the light-up function that we first saw in the H4 back in 2015. Although all HYT timepieces hold at their conceptual core the central tension between liquid and mechanics, the incorporation of the light-emitting diodes (LEDs) powered by micro-generator adds a third element to this delicate equilibrium. Adding to the timepieces already within the volatile triangulation of mechanics, liquid and electricity, you now have the HYT Flow.
Flow © HYT
Actuating the crown-pusher at the 4 o’clock position releases the energy stored in a micro-generator (refilled by winding the same crown-pusher), lighting up a series of LEDs positioned strategically around the watch. Depending on which of the two versions of the HYT Flow you’re looking at, that’s either 13 LEDs firing through a dome set with 73 baguette-cut diamonds, or eight LEDs placed around a stainless-steel ring that funnels downwards into the movement, near the mechanical bellows where the hour-display fluidic module originates.
Because I am who I am, I recently spent an evening researching black holes and other esoteric astronomical phenomena, and discovered the existence of a hypothetical formation known as a white hole. Given that a black hole is a region of spacetime with such overwhelmingly powerful gravity that even light cannot escape it, a white hole is posited to be its opposite. Light cannot enter a white hole, it can only be emitted. The same equations that allow us to understand the behaviour of black holes can be reversed to describe white holes (since mathematical equations work both forwards and backwards).
Flow © HYT
And so, although the two versions of the HYT Flow are not officially named as such, I’ve started calling the diamond-set Flow the “White Hole” and the second one the “Black Hole”. The white hole connection is pretty obvious on its face; the mechanism of the LEDs scattering light through the diamonds and illuminating the rest of the watch is an excellent parallel for the theorised astronomical phenomenon. The element at the six o’clock position of the other Flow, which HYT describes as a vortex-like structure, mimics the forces exerted by a black hole’s gravitational pull, with the ring of LEDs positioned below it mirroring the glow around the light-swallowing event horizon that demarcates the limits of a black hole — as memorably captured for the first time in 2019 by the Event Horizon Telescope.
Flow © HYT
Calling anything a dial, within the context of an HYT watch, seems an extreme logical stretch — there is so little that fits into conventional horological definitions here. So I’ll settle on saying that the “static, non-mechanically functional thing that goes between the movement and sapphire crystal” in the HYT Flow is openworked in a wave-like pattern. It’s another hat-tip to our understanding of light, which functions both as a wave and a particle.
The speed of light in a vacuum, 299,792,458m/s, is a universal physical constant that leads to some interesting concepts, particularly within Einstein’s special theory of relativity. According to one application of this theory, known as time dilation, when you attain speeds close to the speed of light, time slows down. When you actually reach light speed, time stops. At the heart of a black hole, from which no light escapes, time has no meaning. Staring at the HYT Flow, watching the orb of LEDs, or observing diamonds fracture light into a million shards of luminescence, is the kind of experience that will root you to the spot. Your personal velocity is far from 299,792,458m/s and you are a comfortable 55 million light years from the nearest known black hole. But you will still feel as if time has stopped.