In-Depth With The HYT H5: The Art Of Re-Inventing Time
Inspired by how erosion shaped the Earth, HYT invites collectors to rethink the very concept of time. We recently met with Gregory Dourde, CEO of HYT, and had an interesting conversation about time, the watch industry, and the new HYT H5.
Since the beginning of its story in 2012, HYT has shaken up the watch industry with liquid, yet mechanical timepieces. Their futuristic-looking watches are still very much mechanical but tell the time "fluidly" and are meant to attract a younger and cooler audience. For the new H5, HYT created a brand-new movement based on the idea that opposites attract and, in so doing, create perpetual harmony. To better understand the idea behind HYT’s re-invention of displaying time, we sat down with Gregory Dourde to dive deeper into the idea behind this time-teller.
Our Interview With Gregory Dourde
To celebrate the launch of the new HYT 5, we met Dourde at Watches of Switzerland SoHo. It was an excellent opportunity to meet and ask questions about a brand that I have always been curious about and found quite intriguing. One of the first questions I asked was if he had seen a shift in haute horlogerie since the release of HYT’s first watch.
GD: I would say that in terms of driving innovation in haute horlogerie, it is something that I think we are at the very beginning of the story. I believe that there are some innovations in terms of shape. The inside, there are very few innovations. Why? It's because the principle of the mechanical movements was invented centuries ago, and they still work on the same principles today. All the complications that we see - independent brands or not - tourbillon, minute repeater, whatever, they already have been invented.
There has been a lot of improvements in the watch industry during the last century, precision, and incorporating new materials, like carbon. But it all works with the same principles. And, I think, that what HYT has brought, and continues to bring, is to think and to rethink. We are not trying to make the most precise watches one-tenths of a thousandth of a second. I believe that what we propose is a new perception, a new perspective on time.
At HYT, we have reinvented the way to tell the time
Because HYT aims to seduce a fresher crowd, the conversation quickly shifted towards the younger generation and their perception of time. Specifically, how do younger generations interact with timepieces? It is a question that all industry professionals ask themselves. His answer was quite alarming, but also solution minded.
GD: In the UK, there was a study in the Daily Telegraph saying that 60% of teenagers cannot read the time on clocks, which has created an absolute mess. Why? It's because in the classrooms when they take exams, everybody's asking what time it is? How long do I have until the end of the exams? And the school, instead of re-teaching how to read the time they just took the clocks off the walls and they've replaced them with digital ones.
Clocks are not intuitive if you do not train yourself to read it
Aiming to make reading the time more intuitive, this new timepiece purposefully eschews the watch industry’s obsession with precision. It's meant to give the time fluidly, like a gauge telling you the time that remains in the day.
GD: If you notice here on the watch [points to where the liquid is], it shows you your past, the laps of time. Here, it projects you to your future [points to the empty side], this is your future. The connection between the two is the present, the now. It's like a progress bar. This is a progress bar of your day.
This is the beginning of your day [points to where the counter begins on the watch]. This is the end of your day [points to where the counter ends]. You did one quarter. If it's here, you did half. You visualize it, and it's intuitive. If the black liquid is between eight and nine, you say it's between eight and nine, it's eight and a half. It's understandable. You know, it's then you say it's 8:30. So it's 8:30, et cetera.
We want to take our responsibility for trying at all levels to bring something new. We are time tellers rather than timekeepers.
And this is where we want to focus our innovation, to bring a new relationship and new perception of time for the end customer. And when you are used to that, you have to wear it. You do not see the time the same way as if you read with a regular hand, because you are feeling the flow of time. I did that, or I did half. And you feel this, it's experiential."
To tell the time in a fluid manner, the case design has to be outside of the box. So, we asked how did the idea behind the unusual case of this time-telling piece come to be?
GD: We have developed aesthetical goals that are fluid. The case is like a bubble. A bubble is random thanks to running water. We did that because we wanted to have the very best experience of fluidity on the wrist. That means it's rounded with no sharp angles giving you a very fluid experience.
We wanted to express and to propose a journey. That's why we have designed these arrows to suggest you go that way and start a journey. And it gives you a lot of perspectives, new perspectives on time, about the time, and about the mechanism which is inside.
We based the design on erosion. Erosion is the mechanism that happens in nature when you have water and rain. What is it doing? It's taking out layers after layers the stone and different elements to discover the naked truth. We are unveiling a new mechanical movement in here.
Being such an innovative brand with these ground-breaking concepts brings its fair share of challenges, like the education of the customers and the press. So, the brand’s communication is focused on sharing their new vocabulary since the idea is unique.
HYT cannot be explained in a minute; it takes time to explain the concept and the design behind the innovation. But more importantly, their watches are meant to spark people’s curiosity and start conversations, and this H5 certainly does this.
The new HYT H5 is priced at $55,000 USD.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)