June 28, 2016
by Ariel Adams
Ever since HYT originally debuted the H1 watch back in 2012 (here), its seminal “hydromechanical horological” device has remained the hallmark piece of the brand despite the introduction of other models such as the H2, H3, and H4. The HYT H1 remains one of the best “all-around” watches from the modern luxury timepiece brand which focuses on contemporary designs and… liquid. With all that said, this HYT H1 “Full Gold” is, I believe, the first fully gold-cased version of the H1. With a watch whose case has been rendered in everything from titanium to resin filled with beach sand, how does the HYT H1 fare in solid gold?
Having an all-gold watch like this is sort of contradictory because the tenants upon which brands like HYT were formed tend to either reject or re-think the foundation of what makes a luxury watch. In the past, luxury watches were defined by conservative classic looks, using conservative and classic precious materials. In an age when titanium, ceramic, carbon, and resins are used just as much as gold and platinum, does it feel odd to have an ultra-modern item like the H1 produced in a material that most people associate with the most conservative high-end watches from brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe?
On the wrist, you immediately feel the gold heft of this reference 148-PG-15-NF-AG HYT H1 Full Gold watch. With that said, the finishing is very subdued, with mostly brushed surfaces. In fact, “gold-colored” watches have become good enough that if one didn’t know better they might simply believe this is a PVD-coated gold watch, even though HYT would never do anything of the sort given the nature of the brand. In a way, it is like when Richard Mille produces a watch with a sapphire crystal case that some people might think is plastic simply given the look from a distance. Of course, the HYT H1 Full Gold has a perfect 18k rose gold look to it, but it is just that so many fashion brands have come along with merely “toned” watches that people these days are forced to ask “is that real gold?”
HYT has produced versions of the H1 with gold parts in the past, but here we get a full 18k rose gold case and matching dial elements along with some parts in black or gray. HYT does an excellent job of making this gold watch feel surprisingly sporty and cool versus conservative or stuffy – then again, what else would you expect from the hydromechanical horologists?
Lume fans will be interested to see this watch in the dark. As you should know, the H1 uses a special capillary tube in sapphire crystal to indicate the hours with liquid. While HYT has used a variety of liquid colors in the past such as green, red, blue, and more… the HYT H1 Full Gold uses black colored liquid. Because the color does not allow for illumination, the scale underneath it has a strip of luminant. You read the hours in a sort of backwards way seeing where the dark and light points meet. It makes for a cool darkness view, as we you can see…
Apparently, this is the first HYT H1 watch to feature black liquid. HYT continues to work with Preciflex, the Swiss company responsible for its unique liquid system in the mechanical watches. HYT claims that coming up with any new color for the liquid is a several-month process. Part of this is because the color stability needs to be tested in terms of how it is effected by age, UV rays, particle settling, etc…
Little tweaks here and there mark the dial differences on this version of the HYT H1. The dial still, however, indicates the hours (using a retrograde liquid scale), minutes, seconds (using a watermill-style disc), and has a handy power reserve indicator. The lower part of the dial is reserved for a view of the “bellows” which expand and contract to control the position of the liquid indicator.
The movement, which is the exclusive-to-HYT caliber 101 is manually wound and operates at 4Hz (28,800bph). It has about 65 hours of power reserve and offers an excellent modern design mixed with traditional high-end watch making themes and decoration. This particular version of the 101 is done with an anthracite gray coating and is visible through the sapphire crystal caseback window.
Like all HYT H1 watches, the HYT H1 Full Gold is a full 48.8mm wide and 17.9mm thick (which is why it is has a nice heft to it in solid 18k rose gold). The case is further water resistant to 100 meters and well captures the particular architected look that has defined the HYT H1 case design since it was originally introduced some years ago. I’ll further say that more than four years into this collection’s lifespan, the theme and design continue to “mature” well.
Further giving this version of the HYT H1 a refined look is the attached “page gray” alligator strap with the titanium folding buckle. I sort of would have liked a matching gold buckle, but that would have actually unduly added to the price which, while high, needs to stay sort of reasonable given the market position and demographic of this watch. I think HYT made the right decision in mixing in 18k rose gold and value into this price equation.
Clearly, the HYT H1 Full Gold isn’t the HYT H1 for everyone (of course, the H1 itself is not for everyone), but it is a particularly ballsy way to enjoy this all-around very cool modern luxury watch. In gold, it makes a slightly different statement, but given the lack of polish and all the matte surfaces, the mostly “technical” appeal of the HYT H1 Full Gold gives it an impressive, but not gaudy look which I think HYT pulls off quite nicely. As a limited edition of 50 pieces, this reference 148-PG-15-NF-AG HYT H1 Full Gold watch has a retail price of $79,000. hytwatches.com