back to top

HYT Skull Maori Watch Review

HYT Skull Maori Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

HYT is a brand that likes to be different. If you’re unfamiliar with this burgeoning operation, their brand message can be summed up in two simple words: watchmaking and fluids. In all of HYT’s innovative timepieces, the hours are indicated by a coloured liquid that creeps through a custom capillary encircling (or traversing) the dial. It’s a novel concept that the brand teams with avant-garde styling – a combination that sires strong opinions and great debate on the merits and demerits of their wares. Not only does the dial-dominating motif of the HYT Skull Maori watch (debuted here) require the fluid-filled capillary to bend to its will, it’s so massive, it precludes the possibility of fitting a minute hand. After spending a few days with the HYT Skull Maori on my wrist, I’ve had time to form a few opinions about it; and I am pretty sure it will also inspire a range of feelings from everyone who takes a better look.

HYT Skull Maori Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Whenever I’m lucky enough to strap on an HYT wristwatch, one word pops into my head: striving. The off-the-wall brand from Neuchâtel are always reaching for something new and exciting. Sometimes they do this with revolutionary technology; sometimes they do this with bold design; sometimes they do this by forming dynamic partnerships with aspirational institutions. But whatever they do, they do it with a buoyant streak of joy and absolute assurance that someone will love their new product. Wearing the HYT Skull Maori watch for a few days garnered more attention than usual. For starters, at 51mm, it is pretty big (well, huge) and so it can’t fail to be noticed. But this watch seemed bigger than all others that utilise the established HYT H1 case because of the massive skull, rendered in rose gold and hand-engraved to dazzling effect.

HYT Skull Maori Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

So let me define what I mean by “attention.” People noticed the watch from twenty paces and scurried over to see what this glitzy wrist-giant was all about. Their reaction was immediate, but varied. Most people fawned over the watch for its stirringly cool façade before they’d even begun to appreciate the mechanical majesty at work. But a good few people just didn’t get it. And you know what? I bet HYT wouldn’t want it any other way.

HYT Skull Maori Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

They must have known they’d come in for a boat-load of criticism when they made the decision to drop the minute hand. Before going back to my thoughts on the Skull Maori, I’ll say that a lot of the people I spoke to about the watch listed this omission as their number one complaint, some asking if it even qualified as a watch if it didn’t clearly indicate the time. It’s a fair enough detraction, but kind of misses the point. If you can afford to buy into this brand culture, you are probably going to wear this piece on occasions when you don’t need to know what time it is exactly. For us mere mortals, who are unlikely to ever own an HYT, the watch can be appreciated for its artistic merits and celebrated for its technical achievements.

HYT Skull Maori Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

HYT Skull Maori Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Starting with the tech side of things, because that’s what HYT is best-known for, let’s study that fluid-filled capillary for a second: the challenge with this watch, as with all watches in the HYT Skull range (debuted and discussed here), is to maintain a consistent flow of the fluid as it negotiates the bends in the glass tube it calls home. HYT’s standard fluid indicator, as seen on the H1, H2, and H4 models, is impressive enough, but when you compare it to the technical challenge of the Skull Watches, they almost pale in comparison. It’s another brazen foray into the unknown and is incredibly satisfying to watch in action.


HYT Skull Maori Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

It’s very difficult to restrain oneself from constantly playing with the “time-set” function. The screw-down, rubber-clad crown winds in the neutral position, and pulls out once to set the hour. Upon rotating the crown, with a momentary lag, the red fluid of the HYT Skull Maori watch creeps around the dial’s focal point until it reaches the end of its journey and retraces its steps. Technically speaking, this qualifies as a retrograde hour indicator, but it is the most languid I have ever seen. It’s tough to set the time accurately unless you are doing so on the hour, but as I mentioned, this watch is more about the fusion of crafts than it is about telling the time. You’d never see an HYT timing the Olympics, but you might see it dangling off the wrist of a gold medallist relaxing in a hot tub (which is theoretically permissible because this watch is water resistant to 50 metres, which, in the world of watches, translates into a light shower or swim).

HYT Skull Maori Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

HYT Skull Maori Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

So what did I learn about the HYT Skull Maori watch after wearing it that I hadn’t gleaned from the press release? As stated, it is big, but as with all other HYT watches of these proportions, I found it very comfortable thanks to its lightness and the comfort of the strap. The strap is rubber-backed, with a leather-inlay featuring a debossed Maori tribal pattern. It’s actually a fair bit more comfortable than some of the sail cloth straps I’ve had on HYT watches in the past, as good as I thought those were. I have a relatively small wrist at six-and-a-half inches, but was able to wear this strap on the second eyelet, which I found surprising. To see how it sat on a woman’s wrist, I strapped it to my colleague and took a picture. As you can see, it looks quite at home on an even slighter wrist than mine, but this is probably thanks to the glamorous nature of this piece in particular.

HYT Skull Maori Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

HYT Skull Maori Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The engraving on the skull itself is less intricate than I expected, but incredibly sharp. In the press renders, the whole skull appeared to be rose gold in colour, but in the metal, the lower level is actually silvered. This provides a more definite contrast and has the effect of “slimming down” the dial decoration. The polished surfaces in relief are highly reflective and catch every stray beam of light. One of the benefits of this is that the light refracts into the capillary, illuminating the red fluid.

HYT Skull Maori Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

One relatively minor criticism levelled at this watch is the accuracy of the “Maori” design. I’ve heard a lot of chatter surrounding this element and thought it worth raising. It does appear to me that the designs are a little more reminiscent of art nouveau scroll-work than they are of Maori tribal culture, but there is a great deal of diversity and variation within any culture; and so claiming that it’s impossible to find a genuine Maori inspiration for this watch is just not true. It may be inspired by a very small percentage of Maori artwork, and therefore is arguably misnamed, but I think it is just about justifiable. It could have been a good opportunity for the brand to work with genuine Maori craftsmen, but the result is aesthetically pleasing nonetheless.

I did do a bit of digging into the history of Maori designs and only found a few patterns that looked vaguely like the skull’s markings, but then, I’ve not spent much time in or around the culture and am sure some proof of this style as Maori-inspired can be dredged up under duress. Like they say, the absence of proof is not proof of absence, so maybe I wasn’t looking in exactly the right places.

Watch Brands



Disqus Debug thread_id: 4430121773

  • IanE

    Seems like another rehash, albeit with a typical fashion-watch skull featured. Any new ideas at HYT?

    • The H3 is different from their other offerings:

      • IanE

        Yes, that’s true – and that’s the one I’d actually consider, were I in a different wealth-bracket. My comment was over-critical, but there does seem to be rather a lot of tweaking of watch models going on at the moment, with little obvious purpose other than the (admittedly important to the makers) bottom line.

        • No argument there. They have to make back their no doubt considerable initial investments via lots of variations on a theme.

  • “If you can afford to buy into this brand culture, you are probably going to wear this piece on occasions when you don’t need to know what time it is exactly. ”

    This might be the single most ridiculously apologetic sentence ever published in a watch review. You could strap any item to your wrist and call it a watch, if we are going to redefine the word “watch” in the interest of “brand culture”.

    “Excuse me, but do you know what time it is?”

    “I have no idea; this is a glucose monitoring meter. I had it gold plated and glued it to a Nato strap. It’s all the rage in Japan.”

    I get what HYT is trying to do, really. Personally I think the fluid movement is brilliant and innovative. But when a burgeoning watch company decides that their flagship watch model doesn’t actually have to tell the exact time, I’m left with the impression that they’re more interested in selling gimmicks to satisfy debt rather than be a legitimate player in the game. For $120,000, you could buy a brand new Aston Martin Vantage V8; there’s a clock in the dash. It tells the time.

    • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

      But it will be quite uncomfortable to strap it to your wrist and walk into the club and show it off. 😉

    • DanW94

      Totally disagree, it’s pretty apparent it’s not about precise time telling with this piece. It’s a statement watch, pure and simple. While legibility is certainly important to a certain extent (after all, it is a watch and you should be able to reasonably tell the time) it’s not the only reason people buy watches. If it doesn’t speak to you or you think the statement it makes is contrived or silly, that’s perfectly fine also.
      I also don’t get the “you can buy this for the same amount of money this watch costs” comparisons. We could do that all day with every single watch in every price category. For the 150 dollars you paid for that Orient, you could buy a quartz Casio that tells better time and save a few bucks, or for the 1,000 you paid for that CW you could get a new dining room table and put a 10 dollar desk clock on it. For the 200,000 you paid for that house, you could just rent a room at 200 a month and mount a wall clock. That this-that comparison is endless…

      • iamcalledryan

        Agreed, women wear jewelry worth even more that doesn’t even “nearly” tell the time! The entire mechanical watch industry is a statement of watches being about more than just absolute accurate time indication – some just push harder on the art pedal.

        And you can’t sneak little moments with your Aston Martin under the table or when you go to the toilet. Do people with this budget actually use toilets though?

        • Sevenmack

          No. They use bidets and eunichs who hold 18-carat gold bowls in which these folks relieve themselves.

      • Shinytoys

        yeah buddy !

  • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

    It is quite surprising but I kind of dig it despite the fact that I hate gold on watches and not a big fan of skulls either. However on this piece it strangely seems to work. Maybe because I do not see it as a watch more like a moving artbracelet.

  • Boogur T. Wang


    • But other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

      • Boogur T. Wang

        ………..(golf clap)

  • iamcalledryan

    It’s by far my least favourite from the brand. Their other models are awesome. Liquid display is at it’s best when they make every effort for it to legibly tell the time. And the movement is so impressive there is no amount of decoration that should go on a closed dial.


    Ok I am not going to lie to you, I think this is absurd. The only portion of this device I could enjoy is the case back but somehow it is all smoked glass. The news is Hydra would be please with this model and they might have 120K to drop on something that is at first glance not a watch.

    • iamcalledryan

      I totally absolutely need ABTW to do a “top ten watches to be worn by ultra-villains”

      in fact I call copyright and they can come to me if they want the article.

      Sneak preview:

      Dr Evil – Tourbillon of Tourbillons (of tourbillons, ideally)

      Sauron – RM 26-02

      Old Biff from Back to the Future II – Hermes Temps Suspendu

      Jigsaw from Saw – Jaquet Droz Charming Birds (that kill)

      • DanW94

        Nice list! I see Dr. Evil sporting that Corum Lucifer watch though…..

      • But would the Terminator wear an Arnold Schwarzenegger watch?

      • BrJean

        And a lot of options for Darth Vader!

        • iamcalledryan


  • Marius

    This beautiful watch is obviously a piece of art. Does a Vermeer painting need to tell the minutes? Of course not.

    My only concern with this watch is the price. Valannin was arguing that for the same price you could acquire an Aston Martin V8 Vantage. He is correct, but looking at watch prices nowadays, $120,000 seems a bit–how can I put it mildly–seems like a paltry sum. I mean, you won`t be able to impress your super collector friends, that`s for sure. Imagine someone shows up with a $1 million Greubel&Forsey, or a $2 million Patek 2499! This Hyt watch, costing a mere $120,000 will surely make you look like you don`t belong there, and I can guarantee that you won`t be accepted in the Circle of Trust.

  • Shinytoys

    I say boo hiss to the nay sayers. I love this company for their innovations!

    • Raymond Wilkie

      see above : )

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Let me just echo the 18 comments below me. Shiny there is innovation which should be applauded………….then theirs this. I wouldn’t be seen dead in this. Its not often i hate every aspect of a piece, but this has ZERO attributes whatsoever………..can you tell i dont like it : )

  • funNactive

    A skull watch at $120K is a very narrow market. If I spend any kind of money on a watch, I want more universal appeal – longevity (resale or put it in my will).
    I’d pay $50 as a Halloween prop.

  • Beefalope

    Why do they insist on putting such amazing movements into such disgusting watches?

  • Berndt Norten

    Kleptocrats, oligarchs, drug lords and mafia types are human beings too. They deserve the right to buy this. How dare the hoi polloi complain. But seriously, only in a world filled with rich juvenile men would such ghastly devices command such a price. Or exist, period.

  • Sevenmack

    The perfect watch for the Ed Hardy-Affliction set. All HYT needs now is to sell tee shirts and show off holograms of Christian Audigier at bro hangouts.

  • mtnsicl

    Well, at least the strap is nice!

  • Shane Kleinpeter

    Does it come with a free Ed Hardy T-shirt?

  • Claudette

    I was born early 1960’s .. The amazing direction timepieces over the last five decades is nothing short of incredible! I’ve come from self winding hour minute hand… To indiglow to LED ..battery operated,.. Made of rubber to smart watches and everything in between… I think this watch is in a league of its own, the liquid telling the time … Blown away…. I would rock it and wear it..if I could afford it … My left wrist has worn so so so many styles of wristwatches ( including my bullwinkle j moose that I lost years ago…that I wish I still had … This lady intends to keep on keeping on wearing cutting tecnologry … And embrace the designs … For each watch is its own piece of art to wear …. Like it or not … They can make for great conversation …or not … lol …

  • JimBob

    I am still holding out for a MARK 13 version:

  • spiceballs

    Certainly different and to each his own. Sadly (as implied by Rob N) not Maori motifs that I have ever seen, so destroying any (remote) interest it may hold for me – John Kiwi Spiceballs.

  • Omegaboy

    Something to like here? The spring pins are decent.

  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpg, png.