When HYT, the watch manufacturer currently shaking up the industry of haute horology, kindly invited me to travel to Switzerland to meet with them and view their facilities, I was elated. It was one more step towards what I had set out to achieve with the Road to Mykonos.
I arrived in the pretty, sleepy town of Neuchâtel (historically it also is known in German as Neuenburg), the capital of the eponymous Swiss canton (of which there are 26 in Switzerland), the night before my visit. Sitting on Lake Neuchâtel, control over it has oscillated between the Roman’s, French and the Prussian’s numerous times. Indeed in the first half of the 19th century alone it changed hands four times: between the King of Prussia (Frederick William III); Napoleon; back to Prussian control in 1814; before finally, after a revolution, it was declared a republic in the Swiss Confederation in 1848.
As a result, the buildings are a wonderful mix of Gallic flair and German efficiency, with the centrepiece of the town being the ‘Castle and Collegiate Church’, or the Château and the Collégiale, both of which date back to the 12th century.
So how was this setting going to fit with HYT’s take on technology and its application of fluid to the traditional wrist watch? A bastardisation too far or, paradoxically, in keeping with the history of the town in which it is based?
There had been a great deal of snowfall overnight and the view from my balcony window, overlooking the lake, was stunningly picturesque. The combination of breathing on such cold, crisp air with the winter sun bathing the snow-covered roof tops was arresting and it took me a short time to drag my eyes away so I might prepare for the day ahead.
Driving to their facilities, HYT’s building is, unlike some of the other haute horology manufacturers, rather unassuming. But to take that as an indication of what goes on inside would be to not only do them a disservice, but also illustrate an ignorance unworthy of any serious watch enthusiast.
Their building actually houses two companies: Preciflex, a micro fluidic company manufacturing the key components that make the capillary system in their watches and, of course, HYT. The latter takes that system and, having assembled it with a specially designed movement, then cases the watch ready to be shipped to their customers.
There are plenty of very stylised videos of HYT watches, so I specifically asked for more in-depth information as to how the watches actually work and the technology behind them. It was only then, I thought, that both I and you, the reader, might actually truly understand what makes these watches so special. Of course, there are numerous patented technologies at work here, with confidentiality incredibly important, so there are some details I cannot share with you. However, in Part II is, I believe, everything you need to know to convince you HYT really is the real deal.