HYT On the wrist : H2O
A closer appreciation of HYT’s new H2O model after a couple of days wearing it.
What do you get if you cross the HYT H2, with its V-shaped arrangement of bellows, and the HO, with its huge, domed sapphire crystal glass? The H2O, of course, which is arguably the most appropriate name for a HYT timepiece. Granted, the two liquids moving around inside the tiny capillary to tell the time are far more than just coloured water. In fact, their composition is so complicated that HYT have a team of chemists working just on research into the dyes used to colour them. And yes, there are two liquids in there. The coloured liquid is indeed making its way around the dial, but it does so in contact with another, colourless liquid. Each liquid is pushed around the dial by one of the two bellows, the left one pushing the coloured liquid to indicate the hours, the right one pushing the clear liquid to “clear” the display at 6 o’clock.
Case back view © WorldTempus/Paul O'Neil
The twice-daily “reset” at 6 o’clock is just one of two things that are part of the fun of owning a HYT. In addition to watching the liquid slowly flow back into its well at 6 o’clock, you also regularly find yourself doing a double-take at 30 minutes past the hour. Look closer at the minute markers and you will see that there are two 30s, neither of which seem to be in the correct position (one is where you would expect to see 25, the other is where you would normally find 35!). This is because the central minute hand also performs a retrograde dance on the half hour. HYT has literally turned our perception of time upside down: Where you would normally watch the 12 o’clock position to see the hour and minute changes, on an HYT watch your eye is drawn to 6 o’clock. Telling the time itself actually takes a back seat, since there are occasions when neither the liquid nor the minute hand is likely to be displaying the exact time (especially at 6.30!). Instead, time becomes much more poetic and fun. Setting the time is an equally original experience if you are used to the central position of hour and minute hands. Although the minutes hand is in the conventional place, the liquid moving around the edge of the dial is pushed by linear forces, which means that variations in the speed at which you turn the crown translate into variations in the speed at which the liquid moves around the dial. It’s a great way to test your own dexterity.
H2O in steel with black DLC coating and green fluidic hours et heures fluidiques vertes © HYT
HYT combines the cutting-edge technology with the traditional art of Swiss watchmaking by powering this futuristic watch with a mechanical movement that is wound by hand. Since a watch movement tells the time by a system of rotating gears, a cam-follower system is used to convert this rotation into a linear movement to push the bellows. You wind the watch by pulling the crown out and a crown position indicator on the dial with H-N-R settings clearly indicates whether you are about to set the time (H), wind up the watch (R) or do nothing (N). Once fully wound, the H2O will run for eight days.
There are two versions of the H2O, each limited to just 25 pieces. The model I wore has a stainless-steel case with black DLC coating and fluorescent liquid, the other has a case with silver tones and a deep blue liquid. Both have an integrated rubber strap with a folding clasp in titanium.
H2O in steel with blue fluidic hours © HYT
HYT’s way of displaying time is something quite rare in the watch industry, because it is genuinely unique. Having started out as a crazy idea, it has been developed and evolved (a thermal compensation module was added when air travelers wearing early prototypes saw wild variations in timekeeping in the pressured cabin of an aeroplane, for example) into a unique selling point that is the envy of other brands. A HYT watch is therefore a stand-out model, whether on the wrist or as part of a collection.