Launched in 2012, HYT H1, the brand’s debut timepiece revolutionised the horological market with the use of game changing fluid technology that unites mechanics and liquid within a wristwatch. The use of hydromechanics was a first ever in the watch industry and HYT was the winner of the 2012 Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prize, Best innovative Watch Concept (Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Genève). In Q1 2016 HYT opened its first proprietary stand alone boutique (Malaysia). Based in Neuchatel, HYT SA is the sister company of Preciflex and the main brand under which the patented fluid technology is marketed today.
By achieving the incredible challenge of indicating the time with water, they have not so much propelled a new UFO into the watchmaking stratosphere, as they have in fact pulverized all certainties by uniting two worlds that are supposedly diametrically opposed. Never since the water clocks of the pharaohs, have the laws of gravity been overcome to transpose this energy in a portable watch.
Two flexible reservoirs with a capillary attached at each end. In one, a coloured liquid; in the other, a transparent one. Keeping them apart is the repulsion force of the molecules in each fluid. The hours are indicated by the coloured liquid released from a flexible reservoir compressed by a piston. These reservoirs, or bellows, are located at six o’clock and are made from a supple alloy. The first coloured liquid travels through the capillary pushing the transparent one back into its own reservoir and then returning to its original position at six o’clock in what is referred to as a retrograde manner. The two reservoirs at 06:00. While the first compresses, the second expands, and the other way round, resulting in the movement of the liquid in the capillary. As the hours go by, the coloured liquid advances. The meniscus, in the shape of a half moon, marks the separation point with the other fluid in the tube, indicating the time. At 18:00, the coloured liquid comes back to its original position, going backwards.
The secret that gets the reservoirs going? Two bellows made of a highly resistant, flexible alloy, each driven by a piston. And this is where watchmaking comes in to activate the system.
How The First Hybrid Mechanical-Fluid Watch Was Born?
In 2002, during Swiss national exhibition, Lucien Vouillamoz brought forward an idea of designing a water watch and discussed its possibility with his friends. However there was no technical solution existed to replace the gravitational energy used in clepsydras or water clocks within a wearable, water-resistant wristwatch. The utopic idea was swiftly put on hold in the absence of a technical solution.
After some years, Lucien Vouillamoz reconsidered his concept from a different angle – namely to create a fluid indicator of time, that is small and transportable and can be used in different ways, rather than a simple “water wristwatch”. This thought process led him to a completely new idea – involving using two flexible reservoirs attached to each end of the same capillary. This closed system comprised different coloured, non-miscible liquids in each reservoir. By compressing the first, its fluid is pushed into the capillary and indicates the time, while the other liquid expands in the second reservoir. The separation between the two liquids is ensured by the positive and negative polarity of the molecules in both, which would make them repel each other’s edges like two magnets. No need for a piston in the tube. The questions of energy and congestion were solved in one go. The idea behind the First Hybrid Mechanical-Fluid Watch was born.
Seeing the potential of this idea, Lucien Vouillamoz called upon his long time friend, Patrick Berdoz, a serial entrepreneur and business angel highly experienced in the realm of intellectual property and launching innovative projects. After verifying the concept and conducting due diligence with his team of engineers, the latter invested the necessary funds for the initial validations of the project and made his team of specialists available to Lucien. Together, they conducted the prior research and developed the first technical specifications, the first designs, and the preliminary registrations. The results were promising. Patrick continued to finance the entire project. Simultaneously, he contacted his friend Emmanuel Savioz. This specialist in the domain of high-tech start-ups was made responsible for the creation of HYT and raising the funds required to finance a prototype. Patrick also invited him to join him and Lucien in founding and sitting on the board of HYT and its sister company, Preciflex.
Following a year of R&D, the first prototype was created. The time was accurately indicated thanks to a rectangular capillary measuring 1.7/03mm, machined in a circle between two layers of plexiglass making up the watch glass. Created using rolling membranes, the flexible reservoirs are trapped in transparent cylinders. The force required to move the liquid is transmitted by a cam, which replaces the hour hand. The concept was demonstrated and the patents registered by Preciflex.
A key meeting with Vincent Perriard, who is crazy about watchmaking and already been involved in an attempt to use fluids – which actually won the 2008 Design Watch Prize at the prestigious Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix.
Now the idea of a rectangular capillary machined into plexiglas became a thing of the past, and was replaced by a borosilicate glass capillary around 11 cm in length with a tiny internal diameter of just 1 mm, an independent capillary through which the time can be read. Instead of flowing from rolling membranes, the fluids now come from high- strength, ultra-flexible bellows (technology used by NASA) which act as pistons to enable the fluid to move inside the capillary.
To develop the movement for the First Hybrid Mechanical-Fluid Watch, HYT turned to Jean-François Mojon and his team at Chronode. For the liquid part, he advised Lucien Vouillamoz who pilots the reliability trials and the production, in conjunction with Helbling Technik. Meanwhile, CEO and HYT partner Vincent Perriard entrusted the design of the First Hybrid Mechanical-Fluid Watch to the Etude de Style design company, headed by Sébastien Perret.
Vincent Perriard obtained his movements from Chronode, while Preciflex, under the supervision of Lucien Vouillamoz, supplied the liquid components. The alchemy between these two unlikely worlds works perfectly. A year later, the first hybrid mechanical-fluid watch was emerged.
Hydro Mechanical Watchmakers
Patrick Berdoz, Co-founder & Chairman: Patrick Berdoz, business angel and strategic partner from the get go, provided the initial funding and continued contributing in each subsequent financing round. Patrick Berdoz is a serial entrepreneur with a wealth of experience that he makes available to his team. He has developed companies in the Medical field, managed steep organic growth over years and has a strong build-up and integration experience as well. Patrick also has contributed to the filing of over one hundred patents during his career. Aside from other feats, as CEO and President of the medical prosthetics specialist Precimed, he took the company from 17 to 750 employees on three continents in fourteen years. Besides HYT, he’s know leading various companies active in the Medtech, Cosmetic, Biotech and Real Estate fields. He’s also President of FOR Foundation, providing education and professional coaching.
Lucien Vouillamoz, Co-founder & Board Member/Technology Lead Inventor: Lucien is the inventor of the groundbreaking fluid technology used by horological luxury brand HYT, that combines fluids and mechanics in a wrist watch to indicate the time. He was also the driver behind the creation of HYT attracting the brand’s founding members. Lucien is an engineer by training, an owner and co-owner of multiple businesses and the chairman of the Ganydar foundation which creates opportunities for vulnerable youngsters in Latin America.
Emmanuel Savioz, Co-founder & Board Member: He runs HYT’s finances. Holder of an MBA from the Berkeley University of California, Emmanuel initially embarked on a career in the United States and Europe in the realm of mergers and acquisitions for prestigious institutions. Back in Switzerland, he worked for high potential high-tech start-ups in the field of deal-making and fund-raising. In 15 years, he has participated in 20-odd transactions totaling some CHF 60 billion in capitalization and accompanied a good ten Swiss high-tech enterprises in their start-up and development.
Vincent Perriard, Co-founder & Board Member /Product & Marketing: He is a well-known figure in the watch industry. He successfully directed Technomarine (2 years) and Concord (3 years) as CEO. Before that, he was the worldwide director at Audemars Piguet and later at the Swatch Group, directly reporting to Mr. N. G. Hayek.
Grégory Dourde, HYT CEO: Grégory Dourde, an engineering graduate from the Ecole National des Ponts & Chaussées (Paris), obtained an MBA from the Collège des Ingénieurs in 1997. He has worked for major brands, including Cartier, in Retail / Marketing strategy and in the reorganisation of jewellery activity, followed by the Swatch Group and Calvin Klein Watches, and also the Management board of manufacturing companies under Nicolas Hayek Senior. He then founded his own consulting company, working on performance enhancement and development projects for companies operating in the medical, watchmaking and high-tech sectors, among others. His interest in and passion for fields as diverse as the physical sciences, biology, philosophy, plastic arts and music, reveal a desire to nurture and enrich ideas through an interdisciplinary approach, using this cross-pollination as the basis for research into innovative and original solutions.
Ion Schiau, VP Sales & Marketing: On the local front, Biel-born Ion Schiau joined HYT as Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, after having led Hublot’s retail development as International Retail Manager. A graduate of the HEI (Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva), he has travelled around the world out of a love of watchmaking, starting at the Swatch Group in New York before heading up international sales at CK Calvin Klein watches, a company of the Swatch Group. Driven by his passion, he reforged links with his home country by creating Chronotime, which has since become the principle partner of big Swiss watch brands in Romania.
Lionel Roy, VP Operations: Lionel ROY joined the adventure in 2014 as Vice President of Operations. This engineer is an expert in project management, logistics and establishment of industrial organizations. In 2009 he founded “Digitale SA”, a company specialized in the design of watch movement (such as Harry Winston Opus 11) and in advising watch companies.
Cloé Biessy, Communications director: Cloé graduated from HEC Lausanne and obtained her master in Luxury Marketing at Sciences-Po Paris & HEC Lausanne. She was part of the marketing team at LVMH hotel management and then worked as business development manager for the world largest lifestyle management group, quintessentially, where she developed a small business group to integrate partnerships with world's most renown luxury brands such as Gucci, Dior, Chanel. After traveling the world for all HYT events, Cloé is now managing the communications department and taking it to the next level.
HYT Bespoke Department
In 2016, the brand launched its Bespoke Department to create unique, custom made hydro-mechanical timepieces for elite clientele.
Celebrating its 3rd anniversary in 2016, HYT decided to extend the guarantee for its timepieces from 3 years to 5 years with effect from 1st July 2016. In addition to this, pieces purchased before this date will also have their guarantees retroactively extended by an additional two years. In the same year, HYT became a member of the very select group of 28 partner brands of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH).
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