December 16, 2015
by Ariel Adams
Now that 2015 is about over, I have been asked on a number of occasions “what were your favorite watches of the year?” That is a good question – especially for someone who categorically refuses to choose favorites. With that said, a fair number of watches from the last 12 months have certainly left big impressions on me, such as the HYT H3.
Introduced at Baselworld 2015, aBlogtoWatch debuted the HYT H3 watch here. When we eventually got to see the watch a few weeks later, it was easily as impressive as I had imagined. Extremely expensive and produced, for now, in this version as a limited edition of just 25 pieces, the HYT H3 in titanium and platinum is very much the epitome of a niche luxury watch. It also happens to be an incredible composition of elements, and it works very well on the wrist. Now, if only watch collectors were more open to wearing horizontally long rectangular watches on their wrists.
Actually, I think one of the H3’s biggest assets (the case shape) is also one of its biggest detriments. I think a lot of people are going to be automatically biased against considering this watch because of how “unclassic” and often “nerdy” people can perceive this shape to be. It isn’t exactly the definition of classic elegance, which makes it something only the right wearers can pull off. You need to really own the design, as something like the HYT H3 is most certainly not the type of watch that easily integrates into most personal styles and wardrobe choices.
The seminal modern, niche, luxury, horizontally rectangular watch (quite a category, right?) for me is the MB&F HM2 (hands-on with the Sapphire Vision version here). There have been others since then, but the HM2 sort of opened the door for stuff like the HYT H3 which, just a few years later, feels like where the HM2 left off, and I think this theme should continue.
While these wide rectangular watches look a bit odd, they make a lot of ergonomic sense because they take up space on the wrist that isn’t being otherwise used. That means these watches don’t need to be too thick and also aren’t coming off your wrist. The HYT H3, for instance, is a full 62mm wide, a size that would be way too long if that was how tall it was. The HYT H3 is 41mm tall and, at its max, is 16mm thick. On the wrist, it is remarkably wearable and, in this version, the mixture of finishes and titanium as well as solid platinum parts make it look totally sexy in the flesh. Depending on your tastes, it will look sexy on your wrist or sexy just sitting on a table. I mean that I believe most people can appreciate the design, but not everyone can pull it off wearing it.
Although the case is remarkably wearable given the design, that isn’t why anyone is going to drop almost 300 grand on a timepiece. They are going to do that because of the sex appeal of the movement – which, in my opinion, is very real here. More so, while pretty much everything released by HYT is original, I think the HYT H3 takes originality to a new level given the combination of case and dial design.
HYT is all about using liquid indication for the hours, and while they previously used curved tubes in other “H” watches, the HYT H3 uses a linear tube. It also uses an interesting style of retrograde hand to indicate the minutes along with an exposed balance wheel on the dial. No tourbillon here, and I prefer it that way. Flip the watch over, and you’ll find a handy power reserve indicator on the back of the manually wound movement.
Performance-wise, the HYT H3’s movement operates at 3Hz with a long 170 hours (7 days of power reserve). That is a good amount of time between winds, and I hope that the movement has been further designed to maximize accuracy. Easily the most satisfying (and mesmerizing) element of the HYT H3 watch is adjusting the time. Able to be adjusted either forward or backwards, watching that green liquid move elegantly across the “capillary” tube along with the fascinating action of the retrograde minute hand is sheer joy for any horological enthusiast.
The hour display is based on a 24-hour format which uses six cubes placed next to each other that turn in unison when that row of hours is ready to be replaced with the next. Offering the time exclusively in 24-hour format is a bit of a limiting factor for sure, but it sure helps give the HYT H3 more character and I personally wouldn’t mind when wearing it.
HYT designed the movement of the HYT H3 with a dedicated pusher to adjust the hours, which helps a lot. The more I think about the HYT H3 in the larger spectrum of the HYT watch collection, the more I think of it as HYT’s version of the Urwerk UR-CC1 King Cobra. With the UR-CC1, Urwerk took the brand’s mostly rounded case and dial concept and made it linear in a unique way. The UR-CC1 wasn’t like other Urwerks, but it was an Urwerk in the same way that I think the HYT H3 is very much an HYT without being like the other HYT models.
As complicated as the HYT H3 is, at the same time, the way it tells the time and how it works are really straightforward (all things considered, of course). Because of that, this exotic luxury watch might actually make for a decent daily wear and that is something many of its more “traditional” yet exotic counterparts can probably not claim. I, for one, look forward to seeing more versions of the HYT H3 beyond the initial reference 361-TP-01-GF-AG that will only be produced in a set of 25 pieces. Price is a lofty 280,000 Swiss Francs. hytwatches.com