Search
Close this search box.
We are in the process of updating our website to give a better experience to our readers. Thank you for your patience as we work out the kinks and errors!
Search
Close this search box.

A Reinvented HYT Comes to India, Marking a Much-Awaited Chapter for Indian Watch Collectors

While others saw water as an adversary, HYT turned it into inspiration. This Swiss watchmaker has built a reputation for its non-conformist approach and reinvented itself in recent years. HYT watches’ exclusive retail partnership with Time Avenue means the brand has a strong vision for India.

Nature and machinery have been at odds since time immemorial. As engineers grappled to protect machinery from the slow creep of the elements, watchmakers too have strived to keep it at bay from timepieces and their meticulous mechanisms which can have thousands of individual components. Timepieces are designed with the highest precision to keep water and other fluids from seeping in and damaging the assembly.

While others called water an adversary, HYT turned it into inspiration. Born in Neuchâtel, the heart of the traditional Swiss watchmaking region, inventor Lucien Vuillamoz combined science, technology, philosophy, and design in a patented fluidic module that is inspired by clepsydra, one of the oldest methods of timekeeping.

HYT watches Moon Runner
HYT Moon Runner Red Magma

A clepsydra – also known as water clock – measures time by the regulated flow of liquid into or out from a vessel. Taking clepsydra as the central idea, HYT watchmakers developed the fluid module – an incredible technology that took 15 years to develop. The fluid module is driven by the bellows that can be seen at 6 o’clock. These fascinating ‘pumps’ are made of highly resistant, flexible alloy and work by compressing two different coloured liquids around the dial in 0.8 mm thin capillary tubes. As the left bellow compresses to release one of the two liquids, the other expands to receive it. As hours go by, the liquid advances in the capillary tubes. The separation point of the two different liquids – or the meniscus as HYT calls it – indicates the hour.

Powering the bellows is a specially developed mechanical movement which is carefully placed below them at 6 o’clock. For every 12 hours, the liquid travels around the full circumference of the dial and when it reaches the end of the capillary it flows back into its original position.

Over the years, HYT has built a reputation for pushing the boundaries of traditional watchmaking with a non-conformist approach. It has reinvented itself multiple times in the past few years. Born in 2012, the brand found huge success, and some quality issues, which led it to file for bankruptcy in 2021. It was eventually bought by Kairos Technology Switzerland and reintroduced in the market with a new CEO – David Cerratos – who quit just after 13 months.

In another resurrection, Vincent Perriard, who helmed the brand from 2011 to 2016, is back at the job as CEO of HYT.

Vahe Vartzbed HYT watches
Vahe Vartzbed of HYT watches

However, Mr. Perriard is just “the transition guy” – as he told The New York Times. Vahe Vartzbed, General Manager at HYT, is taking over as CEO soon. With a resume boasting previous positions at Roger Dubuis, Girard-Perregaux and Greubel Forsey, Mr. Vartzbed is poised for this job. In India recently to cement HYT’s partnership with Time Avenue, Mr. Vartzbed tells LuxuryFacts about what Indian audiences need to know about the brand and its masterpieces.

LuxuryFacts: Give us a brief introduction to HYT.

Vahe Vartzbed: The crazy idea behind HYT watches was to be the first and only watchmaking company that indicates time with fluids. For the last 400 years, every watchmaker was scared to have water inside the movement. And we had the crazy idea to put liquids inside a timepiece. This is also how we challenge everything. We wanted to display time in the most unique way and this is how HYT watches were born.

What makes people choose HYT over a legacy brand?

Most of the time, our collectors have a wide range of different established brands. We come into the game when they are looking for something very different.

We have discovered that some collectors are always looking for the most special timepiece. And with our limited production capacity–for instance, this year we will produce only 150 pieces–we just need to reach the collectors who are looking for something unique. Most of our collectors are not followers. They are opinion leaders, and (they) are the first to decide to go for and support a specific design; that is where we are.

HYT watches Conical Tourbillon Infinity Sapphires
HYT Conical Tourbillon Infinity Sapphires

HYT has risen back into action since 2021. What has been your learning from the previous run and what is new this time?

We feel that the situation is healthier because our shareholders understand the direction we are taking. What we learned is that to be independent, we need to have shareholders who understand the industry and the long-term development that we would like to achieve. The shareholders behind us are also opinion leaders. They are seeking to establish a brand that is very unique and very different from any other brand. Creativity and innovation are the main motivators for our partners.

Tell us about your current collections.

We launched the Hastroid and Moonrunner collections in 2022. All the models are limited edition with pieces that are slimmer and lighter. For the first time after 10 years, we introduced a small complication. We also wanted to have more collections, so we pursued this direction with our first tourbillon after eleven years – the conical tourbillon, which is limited to eight pieces.

This year we introduced the T1 series. These have a smaller case (it’s now 45 millimeters), but what is more important is that the ergonomy of the case has been improved (worked in a way so as to have no horns or lugs) to make it very comfortable on the wrist. The strap falls straight down, therefore improving the wearability. We also improved the readability of the dial along with introducing a system that allows you to change the straps easily.

HYT watches Hastroid
HYT Hastroid Rainbow

Today we have only these four collections that are active. All the previous collections have been discontinued and we are working for the next chapter of the brand.

Will the hydrofluid technology be your signature design technology?

Our product strategy for the next four or five years will follow two main directions. First, we will continue developing our watchmaking components, building on what we started with the T1 in terms of dial decoration and movement finishing. This will eventually lead to creating new movements with smaller complications. In parallel, we are committed to innovation, which has always been crucial for HYT watches. We are working on new, innovative ways to display time and other functions.

So, our focus is twofold: enhancing our watchmaking content with small complications, more decoration, and more detailed work, and continuing our tradition of innovation with a new way to display time. But fluid and mechanics–that’s always the signature.

 

By keeping production low and carefully managing our distribution, we can maintain the uniqueness and desirability of HYT watches.

 

Tell us about your new partnership with Time Avenue.

We have appointed Time Avenue as our exclusive partner in India. Given our limited production, we need to remain focused and fair to our partners by delivering pieces according to our production capacity. This approach leads us to define one local partner for each market around the world.

We believe in the growing community of watch collectors in India. Over the past two decades, collectors have had ample opportunities to acquire pieces from more established brands. However, in the last four or five years, there has been a rising interest in independent brands. We are confident that the community of collectors in India will be particularly interested in HYT watches.

Even if we deliver only five or ten pieces to India, we believe the collectors will be among the very happy few to own our timepieces. While ten pieces may seem small compared to the population, this exclusivity and scarcity are intentional. We don’t want HYT watches on every wrist; we aim for our timepieces to be with specific opinion leaders who seek something unique and different.

HYT watches T1 Titanium
HYT T1 5N Gold Titanium Deep Blue

How do you envision the brand’s future?

As of today, we officially have around 24 retail partners. Our goal is to expand to a maximum of 30. For 2024, our production capacity plan is to produce 150 pieces. We aim to increase this to 200 pieces next year and 250 the following year, but we do not intend to exceed 300 pieces per year. Our vision is to maintain low production numbers and limit the number of points of sale to ensure that every partner receives the right allocation of timepieces for their collectors.

In the long term, our project focuses on providing more allocation to our long-term partners. This strategy allows us to sustain exclusivity and ensure that our timepieces remain highly sought after by discerning collectors. By keeping production low and carefully managing our distribution, we can maintain the uniqueness and desirability of HYT watches.

SUGGESTED ARTICLES