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Some people just don’t get HYT watches. They struggle with reading the time from the “fluidic” hour indicator. For some, the new HYT H2 Aviator will make little sense, because aviation watches are traditionally the most legible and uncluttered of all. But this is not a pilot’s watch: this is a modern timepiece that draws inspiration from a design code that, thanks to its fundamental simplicity, is open to interpretation.

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The HYT H2 Aviator is a dressed-up version of the HYT H2, in the same way that the HYT H1 Air, released earlier this year (check out the review here), is a version of the H1. We’ve seen the fluid-filled bellows, angled in a V-shape before; we expected the prominent balance and balance bridge to ornament the dial at 12; we could have staked our lives on the yellow/green liquid that encircles the dial making an appearance. What we maybe didn’t see coming was the complete redesign of the minute hand, the addition of large, legible numbers to the face of the watch (on a floating sapphire minute dial), and a striking new strap material for the brand.

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The minute hand is probably the first thing those familiar with the original HYT H2 will point to as being different. In the first wave of models, the hand was a slim finger style hand, color-coded to match the watch’s overall palette. In this incarnation, the hand is a bold, red arrow with generous space for luminous paint. The original hand was also “multi-levelled” in that it had a massive step in the middle of it, making the most of this watch’s impressive 17.9mm of height, and immense sapphire-dial clearance. The new hand is set higher on the canon pinion and totally flat. It looks much more impactful for it, and its cool, diagonally-striped counterpoise is one the nicest I’ve seen.

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Of course, such experimental design with a counterpoise can only be achieved if you have a lot of space to play with. The HYT H2 Aviator is 48.8mm wide to begin with, but the real area gains are made by the absence of a traditional dial. A lot of the dial furniture is actually functional, and although these watches are far from skeletonized, their honest exposition affords them a great deal of flexibility in terms of depth and layout. I think that is what I like so much about them: the case, along with its anti-reflective “box” sapphire, is practically a display cabinet for several finely wrought components. I’ve been up close and personal with every watch in HYT’s range, and I can say this: the complexity is not what makes them great; it is the attention to detail and the individuality of every functional component that sets their standards high.

Technically, this watch is just as impressive as its forerunners. The movement, built in conjunction with Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi, has a power reserve of 192 hours (that’s 8 days), titanium bridges decorated with micro-blasted black PVD-coated elements and titanium satin-finished appliqués, a 21,600vph balance wheel, and 28 jewels.

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On the subject of height, it would be remiss of me not to discuss how well the HYT H2 Aviator watch might theoretically perform in the cockpit of an aircraft. The watch is certainly more legible than the old H2, but it must be noted that the continued presence of the jumping minute hand (installed out of necessity to enable the hand to “miss” the bellows as it completes its rotation of the dial) shunts the minute markers out of the usual position slightly. This would make reading the time at a glance (even after mastering the hour indication) slightly unintuitive. However, the “sub-dial” elements – the crown position indicator (at 3 o’clock) and the temperature indicator (at 9 o’clock) – are sensibly sized and do not impede reading the time.

The hour indices are coated with anthracite Super-LumiNova which, along with the generously lumed minute hand and the yellow/green liquid that seems to glow in the shade, makes this watch very usable in low-light conditions. In daylight, the readability of the face is enhanced by the use of contrast: the active components are usually in steel with bevelled edges, set against a DLC backdrop. This makes all of the elements to which your attention must be drawn very prominent. It also looks really cool, which is what I’d want most from my HYT.

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The strap is coated with kevlar (an aramid synthetic fibre, which is incredibly strong and highly resistant to wear or temperature fluctuations). It is a materiel used in many aircraft components and protective clothing such as flight suits. It is suitable from a stylistic as well as practical point of view and gets a big thumbs up from me. Kevlar is neither classic nor particularly sporty. It is gritty in the same way a NATO can be, but it is much more luxurious than simple webbing. The contrast red stitching provides a nice chromatic link to the dial. As always, HYT have done an excellent job of designing a piece of great intrinsic cohesiveness. I’m not sure that aviation is the field best suited to a time-telling mode of this unique nature, but I applaud the efforts of the design team to push HYT’s DNA into a classic genre of watches. I like the idea of seeing what HYT can do when they turn their attention to another field within our industry. What’s next? Tilted-dial drive watches? A deep sea diver? Liquid chronographs? I simply cannot wait to find out. With a price of $157,000, the HYT H2 Aviator slots neatly into the ever-expanding range already offered by this dynamic brand. hyt.com

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