Three minutes with HYT CEO Vincent Perriard introducing the HYT Skull Bad Boy and it starts to dawn upon me that HYT (and the group) as a whole isn’t in the business of just making and selling watches. HYT and Preciflex is really a technology platform with a multitude of multi-discipline applications. More on that in a bit but first the new HYT Basel 2016 novelty:
Basel 2016 HYT Skull Bad Boy
While the Skull concept isn’t new to HYT, the Basel 2016 HYT Skull Bad Boy is the aesthetic climax of research into a new black liquid display. It’s not just an exercise in liquid colouring but development of a substance with chemical properties, viscosity, expansion coefficient and UV resistance unlike anything on the market today.
“It was a deliberate decision. There were other solutions which would have made the piece visible at night. But if we wanted to play with the darkness inherent to the Skull Bad Boy, we had to go all the way. Night is part of the world of shadows and darkness. Perfectly in tune with the spirit of the skull. – Vincent Perriard, CEO of HYT
Engineering a high density fluid also meant anticipating added pressure and energy requirements for the piston mechanism and the challenges of creating a highly viscous liquid that didn’t stick to capillary walls while holding a meniscus.
Colour in any material, liquid or solid is an expression of the substance’s ability to reflect specific spectrums of light. In this instance, the fluid indicator in the HYT Skull Bad Boy absorbs everything, much like a black hole. Thus, it is impossible to read time on the Skull Bad Boy in the dark.
Matching the new black liquid is the skull with the unique texture and “wood grain” appearance of Damascus steel. Used in the good old days of swords and sandals, the process of making Damascus steel is akin to baking Mille Feuille French puff-pastry, gossamer sheets of steel are folded over and over again and the resulting carbonised steel is dipped in acid, creating the metallic “wood grain” during the ensuing chemical reaction. As a result, no two HYT Skull Bad Boy watches are ever alike.
The dial of the HYT Skull Bad Boy comprises two half-moons decorated with the Clous de Paris stud pattern with Gothic font indexes are created in a Gothic font, complementing the Skull Bad Boy’s Adam Lambert goth-rock aesthetics. The Skull Bad Boy is available as a limited edition of 50 pieces.
The 23 Million Dollar Question: HYT is not just in the Business of Selling Watches
What does it mean for HYT’s creativity and independence with new funding and new members on the board of directors?
Psychologically things have changed. We are more relaxed now that immediate financial concerns have been reduced and we can start to put all our efforts towards creativity and business rather than worry constantly about cash flow. The capital investment gives us more freedom to invest in research & development and put money into marketing, advertising and distribution so that we have better control of verticalisation and movement manufacture.
There’s no concern at all that new board members interefere with the creative process?
Not at all. Because nobody asked the real question – for 23 million dollars, what is the percentage of ownership of the company? I can tell you that it’s less than 20%. Basically this means that HYT was evaluated for over a 100m dollars. This is the value of our technology and the 29 intellectual properties that we own. The value of both companies, Preciflex, our technology platform and HYT has created a combined value of around 100m dollars.
So you still outnumber the new members in terms of voting rights?
Yes. It doesn’t change an inch of our strategy because we still control our destiny and vision.
How does a chairman of Nestle, a company of fast moving consumer goods, get interested in watchmaking?
It was the technology platform which interested him because what we have developed has applications in many other industries including medical fields. Revenues for the Group don’t just come from HYT but also from Preciflex of which HYT is the main client and partner.
Are there any conflicts of interest for you with Dominique Renaud starting his own watchmaking firm?
Absolutely not. We already knew that Dominique was starting his own firm and we said as much during the announcement of the partnership two years ago. He’s still working with us but in the meantime, he’s opening his own brand and HYT is providing him support.
When last I met with him, he mentioned that he was working on a type of fluid based regulation system for you, there’s absolutely no fear that he might come up with a better idea and keep that for himself?
He was very clear about what he wanted to do from the onset and he’s doing something completely different. Additionally, a portion of the 23 million will go into creating new manufacture movements.
The one with the fluid regulation system?
It’s a movement that I don’t want to say much for now because it’s too early but it’s one which will fundamentally revolutionise the industry. It has 10x more power in terms of energy yet with thinner, smaller movement dimensions which will allow us to develop more modules for complications on top of it and eventually launch a ladies line of HYT watches. We would like to introduce 42m watches specially for the Asian market.
Is this new power source still spring based?
I can’t say. It’s going to be a big surprise. There’s a huge novelty behind that and we will launch with 8 pieces. The intention is to have it as a standardised base calibre throughout HYT. Basically like what Richard Mille did, we cant always work with APRP.
Would the new movement with new power source retro-actively replace all the current calibres in the older models?
Good question. We will keep the current collections alive and then we will have a new series on top of it with other movements. We will keep a perspective of 10 years like Richard Mille, we might discontinue a product line or we might keep it alive with a new movement, it’s hard to evaluate now but we have to be flexible.
With the new movement and the new power source, do you foresee HYT starting another subsidiary that is purely about conceptualising radical new movements? Not just for you but for everyone else.
Our technology platform is not just going to be working for HYT but for other clients in the future. We are going to be a bit like APRP but in a different way.
As CEO, what’s your philosophy behind sharing this technology rather than keeping it proprietary to yourselves?
Interesting question. With HYT, we have 19 different IP protecting the technology. Of the 19, only 4 or 5 are at the core of HYT. Display of time with the two liquids and the meniscus, but we have a lot more intellectual property which don’t impact on the unique, innovative features of HYT. Some examples – our technology involving pressure and temperature. Imagine if you’re an existing brand and you’d like to create a diving watch which goes 5000 meters deep, you would meet with our team because with all our research, we now have many solutions relating to issues with pressure and the ideas and concepts to implement which don’t necessarily use liquids like HYT. The knowledge and know-how about liquids can be implemented in a diving timepiece which could break all current records. We have many clients who have already consulted with us about temperature control and we are not providing them with information which could impact the brand.
But then HYT doesn’t have a diver’s watch now and if you did launch one that was depth rated to 5000 meters, you would change the game.
Yes but the technology we have is really expensive and if a mid to large sized company came to us and said that they would like to produce 2000 diving watches, it’s huge business with great revenues. We wouldn’t say no to that. This becomes a question of business and scale of business. We have opened the doors without any risk of competition to HYT.
This is assuming you don’t want to create a diving watch…
It’s a commercial concern but the business of HYT is not necessarily coming from consumer sales but around intellectual property licensing and this has huge value, allowing us to raise 23 million just last week. This is greatly attractive for HYT and Preciflex. As a group, HYT has a purpose and it’s to be a window to technologies which work. We are a niche but others can take and apply our concepts for other purposes and other industries.
When are you announcing the new movement?
SIHH 2018. 20 months from now. Domminque is still helping us on the subject. It’s going to be hard to wait that long to see what you guys are doing.
The Real Bad Boy of HYT is Not the Bad Boy Skull, It’s Vincent Perriard
This is their Baselworld 2016 novelty but the Real Bad Boy of HYT is NOT the Bad Boy Skull, It’s the CEO, Vincent Perriard.”It’s not just about watches. It’s about real intellectual property.”