A few months ago, I sat down with Davide Cerrato, CEO of HYT watches. I’ve known Cerrato through four different positions at watch brands. Only in this role, he is not only in charge of design but of the company as a whole. Less than a year ago, it was made public that HYT watches was going out of business. The news was sad because the innovative Geneva-based watchmaker had so much zeal and originality. The pain was not long — less than a year later, HYT was back with a new owner (Swiss Kairos Technology Limited) and a new leader. The Hastroid Green Nebula is its first new watch, and it’s a sign of what is to come.
Gone from HYT messaging is any reference to the “hydro-mechanical horologists” or even too much of an emphasis on the fluid-based system in the movement that indicates the time. The new term (printed on the watch dial) is “Meca-Fluidic Technology.” From the start, it was planned that all HYT watches utilize “fluidic” indicators for communicating information, and that promise has been realized thus far. That said, the technology to create the small borosilicate capillaries and the fluid that is meant to flow through them is finicky, and also quite expensive. But it’s still very cool and something that other brands don’t have. The HYT Hastroid watch does, of course, have the fluid-based indicator for the hours, but I wonder if all the products HYT makes moving forward will be based around this mechanical fluid hour indicator system.
Now, part of the HYT brand messaging is a lot of words about space, spaceships, and the future. Cerrato is now part of the group of optimists at the helm of a futuristic watch brand. These individuals must create items that allude to a bright world ahead of us. This is very hard work these days with the future seeming somewhat gloomier than the rose-colored past. This is one major reason that retro-style watches are in, and it’s an area that Cerrato excelled at in his two previous roles working at Montblanc and Tudor. HYT requires him to shift focus and embrace an interest in futurism and forward-thinking design, which he says he harbors. How has that been manifested in the Hastroid Green Nebula?
Green and black is how HYT started and green and black is how HYT has been re-started. Already, we see Cerrato being interested in the past before he thinks about the future. HYT launched (on aBlogtoWatch here) with the anonymous-sounding H1. The H1 design has, indeed, aged since its debut a decade ago. The Hastroid feels very much like Cerrato’s re-interpretation of the original. It sort of restarts HYT with a watch that uses fundamentally the same movement architecture but in a vividly different form that is much more appropriate, given current tastes and trends.
The case is a different shape now, but HYT watches are still large and bold — the Hastroid is 48mm-wide and 17.2mm-thick with a length of 52.3mm. Produced from black-coated titanium with segments of carbon, the case is water-resistant to 50 meters. Over the dial is a domed sapphire crystal, and the entire dial design is a nice mixture of classic HYT and aesthetics that seem to be inspired by Urwerk (another Geneva-based independent watchmaker) and its ilk. I wouldn’t say that immediate distinctiveness is the Hastroid’s strong suit, even though it is clearly an original design. I do very much like that it is a functional timepiece dial first, before being a pure “statement watch.” Here we see Cerrato, the industrial designer, which, in my opinion, is a good thing.
Flourish comes in the form of the case shape, the textures, the sapphire crystal dial, and the open-worked movement, not to overlook the circular retrograde moving liquid that indicates the time sitting above a section of luminant material. I like the emphasis on clear hour and minute indicators on the dial, as well as the fact that the watch very much looks like a tool versus a mere futuristic wrist sculpture. I do think the Hastroid is the type of watch that will likely grow on you over time. With that said, let’s not forget how little time the new HYT had to put this product together. In time I firmly believe that Davide will further flesh out his particular aesthetic vision for the HYT brand. For now, the Hastroid is actually an evolution of what the HYT H5 was supposed to be (a product planned before the bankruptcy).
One detail that I’m not in love with is a feature of the movement seemingly needed to place the minutes indicator hand in the center of the dial. The original architecture of this watch movement (now called the caliber 501-CM) had a regulator-style display with the main dial being used for the hours, then smaller dials for the minutes and seconds. Originally placed under 12 o’clock I believe in the H5 watch, the minutes hand is now centrally located for the Hastroid. As a result, there is a large gear that partially covers the view of the “bellows,” which, when moving up and down, adjust the position of the liquid in the capillaries. While I reserve final judgment for when I wear this watch, I think the gear might end up feeling as though it is obstructing the opening, as opposed to adding to the look. That said, I agree with HYT that the minutes hand looks better in the center of the dial, semi-sharing a track with the hour markers. According to HYT, the 501-CM (“CM” for central minutes) has a number of interesting improvements over the original HYT movements, and the movement was co-developed with well-respected watchmaker Eric Coudray (of the Gyrotourbillon).
According to Cerrato, the 501-CM movement is only about 60% the same as that of the never-released HYT H5. Much of what Cerrato changed for the Hastroid was aesthetic, in addition to moving the position of the minutes hand — and the dial of the Hastroid has a subsidiary seconds dial and a power reserve indicator, all part of the manually wound, 4Hz and 72-hour power reserve mechanism. The design of the indicators and markers, along with the hands, is really nicely done, which feels both purposeful and contemporary. Reading the time is more or less straightforward. One needs to train one’s eyes to look at the edge of the liquid to read the hours and then to see where the hand is pointing. It is actually rather legible — more so than the original HYT watches, for sure.
Attached to the HYT Hastroid Green Nebula watch is a new rubber strap that is fitted to the case’s bar-style lugs. This is another area that I need to see in final watches to make a confident judgment. The straps are a bit narrower than the lugs (by design, it seems), and I want to know if that looks like a natural transition or if the lugs appear too wide or, alternatively, if the strap looks too narrow. Like I said, the slightly asymmetric case shape and the novel styles I am seeing here simply require some hands-on experience before I can fully remark on the Hastroid, but I’m liking a lot of what I see and feel that the brand is off to a great new start. I want to see where it goes and am excited to see the HYT Hastroid watch in the flesh soon. HYT will produce just 27 pieces of this first run as a limited edition for the Green Nebula color scheme. Price for the HYT reference H02698-A Hastroid Green Nebula watch is 70,000 Swiss Francs. Learn more at the HYT website here.