THE GAME CHANGER. Backed by APRP and Dominique Renaud, among others, HYT Watches rides the wave of success, spearheading a new kind of timepiece: one with liquid to tell the time. Vincent Perriard, the high-octane CEO, shares more good news with Chris Andre
Success doesn’t come overnight, as they say. But if you got the right talents working on the right formula at the right moment, success is practically a given. Meet the unstoppable and “crazy” Vincent Perriard. His resume would instantly taunt those who dream of getting their hands dirty inside the watch industry’s giants such as Audemars Piguet and the Swatch group. Now, as the CEO of HYT Watches, the energetic Swiss-born is definitely on a roll.
The H3 Watch
Running for over two years so far, HYT Watches has been grabbing headlines in and out of SIHH and Baselworld—yes, they were present at both global fairs. Even more so, its success was apparent straight from the beginning. Its groundbreaking philosophy of incorporating liquid in its original watchmaking technology looks as intriguing as it sounds. Unveiling the larger-than-life Skull timepiece and both the H3 and H4 this year, the newborn company is the talk of the town today. And Perriard sure lives up to expectations with his no-nonsense admission on how the company came about, its “crazy” secret weapons and a game-changing strategy for next year.
“We wanted to create something unique, not just by material or design. It needed to be something where the technology is so obvious”
Chris Andre: Hi Vincent, it’s great to see you in Jakarta. HYT Watches has been running for over two years, and it’s grown rapidly in Southeast Asia so far. Any particular reason why?
Vincent Perriard: The plan was not to launch so early in Asia, but there’s just so much demand, particularly, from Southeast Asia. We launched the Singapore showroom—our Asian headquarters—in October last year, and a week later we launched the watch collection in Jakarta. Three weeks later we opened our store in Kuala Lumpur, and it’s doing really well.
Chris Andre: What does HYT actually stand for?
Vincent Perriard: The “H” and “Y” stand for Hydro, and the “T” is Technology. We picked the name because it’s short and strong, as is the logo. In the campaign we mention Hydro Mechanical Horologist, but we don’t spell out what HYT stands for.
Chris Andre: How did the company come about?
Vincent Perriard: We wanted to create something unique, something very innovative—not just by material or design. It needed to also be something where the technology is so obvious that everybody can see and grasp the concept right away: We wanted the audience to understand that the idea of having liquids inside a watch is not natural and is in fact contrary to the basic notion that we should prevent liquids from getting into a watch. Instead, we welcome liquids into the watch and use them to indicate the time. To make that happen took more than three years, because it involved a very “crazy” technology. We worked with many different companies, including those from the aerospace industry, to realize that. Now we have a team of 37 engineers within HYT Watches developing the creations.
Chris Andre: You founded the company together with Lucien Vouillamoz, former nuclear engineer. Is that correct?
Vincent Perriard: Ah, Lucien is the inventor. I had the crazy idea, and he had the technology and the know-how to make it happen. He’s a partner and still very much involved, working in R&D.
An exploded view of the H1 watch
Chris Andre: What about the H1 watches?
Vincent Perriard: We worked together with another “crazy” watchmaker, Jean-François Mojon, the former head of the watchmaking department of IWC. He was the one who created the Opus X timepiece for Harry Winston.
Chris Andre: What about the H3 and H4?
Vincent Perriard: The H3 was created in collaboration with Giulio Papi (APRP), but the H4, including the recent light technology, was developed internally.
“It’s not just about the look; we created a special technology for the skull. We have to bend the capillaries”
Chris Andre: I heard that Dominique Renaud is now involved in HYT Watches as well.
Vincent Perriard: We met last year’s summer and I asked what he wanted to do after selling his shares at APRP and quitting the industry around 12 years ago. Last September we officially announced our collaboration and now, Dominic Renaud is part of HYT Watches for all the complex masterpieces. His products will only be unveiled next year, 2016.
The HYT Team
Chris Andre: Speaking of masterpieces, tell us about the Skull watch.
Vincent Perriard: In principal, the watch works like the H1 with the liquid indicating the time. However, we have removed the minute hand, so you can read the time just by seeing the liquid. Yes, the time reading is not precise—if you need to know the precise minute, just take out your cell phone [chuckles]. The skull’s left eye indicates the seconds. After a while, the green eye becomes either green or black to denote the passing seconds. The other eye is the power reserve indicator; itwell, to push the envelope a little bit further. This piece is developed internally, not by Giulio Papi. That’s the beauty of being a very small company; we can afford to do something “crazy” like this.
Chris Andre: Why a skull?
Vincent Perriard: It’s not just about the look; we created a special technology for the skull. So it’s more than what meets the eye, in comparison to others who put skull designs on a watch. First of all, we have to bend the capillaries [the small tubes containing the liquid]. Until we mastered the technique, we broke nine out of 10 capillaries—consequently. A lot of people were involved in the project and much went to trash due to technical failures to get that one solid and perfectly working Skull watch.
The H1 Cigar
Chris Andre: So you have the very innovative H1 and H2, and now you have this “fun” Skull watch. What is it that HYT wants to achieve: To be a very highly technological company or more along the lines of a daring watchmaker?
Vincent Perriard: A combination of both. We’d like to be seen in two to four years’ time as the ultimate innovative watch company, using the best and the most talented watchmakers ever in the history. This is why we work with the best: Dominique Renaud, Giulio Papi and Jean-François Mojon. It’s also about having fun—no pressure on the size of our business. We’re totally independent!
Chris Andre: From the H1 to the Skull watch and the H3, it seems the price point of the HYT Watches constantly rises.
Vincent Perriard: The H2 is double the price of H1 due to the double-barrel system and subsequent eight-day power reserve. The H2 also packs more complications and is co-developed by Giulio Papi [APRP]. The H3 is highly limited to 25 pieces only. But the H4 is below the H2 in terms of pricing and we have plans to launch an entry-level—in terms of price—HYT watch in the future. We’d like to democratize the price points to invrease HYT’s playing field.
Testing The Capillary Tube
Chris Andre: That will definitely favor the Southeast Asian markets as well, where the HYT has been received very well and is progressing rapidly. Why do you think is it so?
Vincent Perriard: Because Southeast Asia is the new Italian market. Twenty years ago, if you were successful in Italy, you would succeed in all other markets. That was in the ’90s. Southeast Asia, especially Singapore and Indonesia, is becoming the new Italian market. The people are the trendsetters. There’s so much wealth, so much money to be spent. You have a “crazy” gap between rich and poor, but that’s life. The rich people are always willing to buy the most exclusive and the most expensive things. They are not shy to test and try new ideas, new brands, and do not follow the basic trends. These markets are attractive for us, and that’s why we are seeing such rapid success in the region.
The Skull Watch
Chris Andre: Aside from the spectacular creations and market expansion, what’s your personal goal for the HYT brand?
Vincent Perriard: We produce 450 watches a year for all collections worldwide. That’s a lot for a one-year activity, not to mention the business having only been running for over 18 months. So we’re really fresh and new. But the magic number is to reach 1,000. We’re not obsessed with numbers, though; this is just my objective. And we have ten patents pending for watchmaking innovations, to be locked and secured for the next twenty years. So nobody can create the same watch today. That 1,000 for watch production will happen in 2017—I am confident we need three years to achieve that.