Anyone who has been following me on The Road to Mykonos will know this was a day I had been anticipating for months.
I am normally an early riser – around 6/630am – so setting my alarm that little bit earlier is not usually too difficult. Doing so this time, however, was a pleasure. I was booked on the first British Airways flight out of Heathrow, meaning I would land in Geneva by 9am. From there, I needed to take a train to Neuchâtel, about an hour and a half north of the Swiss capital, before taking a swift taxi ride to HYT’s ‘laboratory’. Fortunately, they had kindly laid all that on for me, meaning all I had to do was get my timings right and, by 1130am, I would be knocking on their door and ready to see the bespoke ‘pièce unique‘, made specially for me to wear on this year’s Gumball 3000 Rally.
Rob, the Sales Director, met me at the front door and welcomed me in. Unfortunately Greg, their CEO was travelling on business, but there will be plenty of time to meet up and thank him and the rest of the team for their work on this project in the very near future.
I was immediately introduced to the watchmaker who actually made the piece, which meant I got to thank him personally. Then, given I was booked on the 5.30pm flight back, Rob suggested we go straight to lunch; he had booked a table at the excellent restaurant, ‘La Maison Du Prussien‘, which is where I stayed in January when the designs of the watch were finalised.
The unveiling of my Gumball watch
Given it was such a beautiful day, we took the watch, packaged up in HYT’s very individual packaging, to the restaurant and shot the opening and first look by a lovely babbling brook, which runs past the hotel.
Let’s cut right to it. To say I was pleased with the watch would be a total understatement; in fact, I think HYT outdid themselves… In my view it is sensational! The eagle eyed of you will notice that the final product is slightly different to that in the pictures I released on social media and this site. The flanking sub-dials were, originally, to be in gold. Instead, these were changed to DLC coated anthracite to provide a sportier and, ultimately, ‘racier’ look and feel of the watch. I think it works superbly well and really compliments the aesthetic we were looking for.
The combination of the brushed gold with anthracite case, sub-dials and rubber strap, with red accents is stunning, whilst the red sapphire crystal that provides a view into the bellows is actually very artistic; angular yet sophisticated. Moving round to the side one can see, at 6o’clock, the HYT logo, flanked by that of The Peaked Lapel’s, etched into the dial, while then, moving clockwise from there, the destinations of the Rally are actually inside the crystal. I have no idea how they did it but this is the very first piece HYT has ever made using this technology and it creates a fantastic depth to the feature.
Flip the watch over and the HYT Calibre 101 is displayed in all its glory whilst, engraved in gold, is my signature, accompanied with a message from the maison: “HYT wishes you all the best of luck for the rally Ollie!”
Lunch, HYT and Gumball 3000
Rob and I then shared a delicious lunch, with matching champagne and wine, talking about all things HYT, Gumball 3000 and everything in between. What has struck me most about these guys, ever since I first met them nine months ago, is just how passionate, interesting and expressive they are. They really care about their brand and those who are into the subject; they also understand that not everyone knows about HYT and convincing the sceptics will take time and education.
I am not in that camp however. Ever since I clapped eyes on the HYT Skull Green Eye, which I purchased in the summer of 2018, I have been a strong advocate for the brand. I just love the idea they are doing something so different and have had the courage of their convictions to see it through.
By the time it was 2pm, Rob kindly gave me a lift to the station and, with typical Swiss precision, I landed at London Heathrow at 6pm.
So there it was… I finally had, strapped to my wrist, a bespoke watch made specially for me to wear on the Gumball 3000 Rally… it really was one of those days that will live long in the memory; genuinely something to tell the children, the grandchildren… in fact anyone who will listen!! Such an incredible experience!!
Thanks to HYT and The Limited Edition
I cannot thank the team at HYT, including Greg, Rob, Franҫois and Giancarlo for their input and imagination, as well as Pietro of The Limited Edition for his unerring support. Without him, none of this would have happened!
If you want your own HYT Gumball Watch, it is now available as a very limited run exclusively at The Limited Edition.
So… yet another jigsaw is in place. What an amazing experience this has been so far… and the Rally hasn’t even started yet!