Hands-On: Angus Davies gets hands-on with the HYT H3

This detailed review of the HYT H3 includes live pictures, specification and pricing.

HYT H3 - watch with retrograde hours, retrograde minutes and function selector

In life we are taught to conform with societal norms. There are accepted ways of eating, addressing individuals for the first time and playing particular sports. We learn from a young age what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. Indeed, it is this respect for rules which preserves order.

There are other areas in life where we seek conformity and accede to societal norms. For example, we have grown accustomed to expecting cars to have four wheels. When a vehicle has possessed three or six wheels they have been the butt of jokes and a source of amusement. Likewise, watches are usually round and employ hands to impart the time. Many watchmakers who have deviated from this strategy have produced timepieces lacking cohesive design. Indeed, taking risks is not for the fainthearted.

HYT, a company clearly not afraid of taking risks and deviating from the norm, redefined our notion of telling the time with its H1 timepiece. This watch eschewed an hour hand, using two liquids to help proclaim the time. The rules were broken and conformity to horological norms was set aside.

With the H3, the basic concept of the H1 has been embraced but additional risks have been taken. A round form is abandoned. Time no longer follows a circular trajectory but travels in straight lines. The brand even asks of its customers, ‘Can we still use the word “horology” to describe it?’ I recently pondered this question while handling the towering tour de force which is the HYT H3.

The dial

In common with the H1 and H2, two bellows pumps move liquids, from and to, two reservoirs. Although in the case of the H3, the bellows pumps are arranged along a horizontal plane and face each other. A straight glass capillary spans the width of the case and contains a yellowy-green liquid.

HYT H3 - watch with retrograde hours, retrograde minutes and function selector

The meniscus formed between the yellowy-green liquid and a colourless liquid, corresponds with the prevailing hour, similar to the H1 and H2. However, unlike these latter models which feature a circular scale, the H3 employs a linear scale comprising of rotating cuboids.

Six cuboids are mounted on a common axis. HYT refer to this arrangement as a ‘Rotating Dial’. Once the coloured liquid has travelled fully right, it returns back to the left hand side. This retrograde motion takes place every 6-hour period. The energy stored within the H3’s bellows provides the energy to ‘semi-instantaneously’ revolve the ‘rotating dial’. There are 24 cuboids on the rotating dial, each denoting an hour.

The minutes are displayed on a clear linear scale. A red ‘articulated’ arm moves from left to right proclaiming the minutes with absolute lucidity. Indeed, despite its neoteric design, the H3 is a paragon of readability and proves intuitive to use.

The hours are set using a push-button on the left hand flank of the case. Each depression of the push-piece advances the rotating dial 90°. A conventional crown is mounted on the right hand side of the case and is used to set the minutes and wind the movement. The fitment of the push-button makes the adjustment of the hours a speedy and user-friendly experience. A ‘crown position indicator’ is located in the lower right-hand portion of the dial.

The case

The case is composed of charcoal grey PVD-coated titanium and platinum. This seems an unusual mix as one metal is notably light while the latter noble metal is exceptionally dense. However, the resultant timepiece is a harmonious ensemble with no trace of discord.

HYT H3 - watch with retrograde hours, retrograde minutes and function selector

Measuring 62mm x 41mm with a case height of 16mm, the H3 is a horological leviathan. Its technical complexity has determined its notable scale. Personally, I found the watch to be too large for my wrist. Nevertheless, for some would-be buyers, the size of the H3 would not prove a barrier to ownership and its very scale may be viewed as an attribute.

The domed sapphire crystal is incredibly complex courtesy of its numerous contours. The case-back, formed in titanium, allows sight of the bellows pumps, large wheels and power reserve-indicator.

The movement

HYT, once again, turned to APRP (Audemars Piguet Renaud and Papi) for help with the movement for the H3 (APRP has previously assisted HYT with the H2). The movement specialist from Le Locle never ceases to impress with its rare blend of mechanical ingenuity and peerless finishing.

HYT H3 - watch with retrograde hours, retrograde minutes and function selector

Despite the modernity of the movement within the H3, traditional craftsmanship is clear to see. The micro-blasted charcoal grey PVD-coated titanium bridges feature titanium-coloured satin-finished accents and rhodium-plated bellows.

The hand-wound movement displays its balance dial-side. The balance has a frequency of 21,600 VpH (3Hz). The movement contains 53 jewels and, courtesy of twin barrels, boasts a power reserve of 170 hours.

Closing remarks

I applaud HYT for making a timepiece which walks on virgin snow and delivers both innovation and craftsmanship in copious quantities. Indeed, nobody could ever accuse HYT of plagiarism, the originality of the H3 is clear to see.

The dial is highly inventive, but not at the expense of readability. The rotating dial and retrograde minutes deliver a unique mien as well as a wonderful sense of occasion. Moreover, the dial proves highly practical with each indication simple to discern.

The case is an interesting combination of titanium and platinum. It looks splendid and does not resemble a conventional wristwatch.

HYT has collaborated with APRP for the hand-wound movement powering the H3. This decision proves eminently logical. APRP has an enviable reputation for crafting fine movements imbued with flawless finishing. Moreover, APRP has repeatedly demonstrated its capacity to innovate and wow the watch-buying world.

‘Can we still use the word “horology” to describe it?’

The H3 certainly imparts time, but does not follow the norms. Indeed, it redefines our expectations of a watch. Nevertheless, in my opinion ‘horology’ is a fitting term for the H3 as throughout the ages, creative people have sought to question convention, break rules and set aside norms. The H3 does all of these things and in so doing, delivers a spellbinding example of luxury watchmaking.

Further information

Technical specification

  • Model: HYT H3
  • Case: Titanium and platinum; dimensions 62mm x 41mm; height 16mm; sapphire crystal to front and caseback; water resistance = 3ATM (30m).
  • Functions: Retrograde hours; retrograde minutes; crown position indicator; power reserve indicator
  • Movement: HYT calibre, Hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 vph (3Hz), 53 jewels; power reserve 170 hours
  • Strap: Black alligator strap with PVD coated titanium buckle.
  • Price: £220,000 (as at 8.1.2018)

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