The other model, the H4, is equipped with two light-emitting diodes, hidden behind the large numeral “6.” When the wearer pushes a button, the dial lights up. The watch has no battery: energy for the LEDs is provided by a spring wound via the crown. When the power from that spring is released, it causes a micro-generator to spin, creating electricity.
HYT is just warming up, Perriard says. The next big step will be adding more fluid displays to the watch, showing minutes and perhaps a complication such as a moon-phase. That will require more liquid modules, each of which will have a pair of bellows. “We need one pair of bellows for the hours, another for the minutes, and another for the complication,” he says. That will mean the bellows must be much smaller so they will all fit into the watch. It will mean also that the movement must be much more powerful. No suitable movement is on the market, Perriard says, so HYT/Preciflex is now designing its own.
In 2014, HYT signed up another celebrity watchmaker to assist in the effort. He is Dominique Renaud, co-founder in 1986, with Giulio Papi, of Renaud & Papi (now APRP). Renaud left the watch industry for more than a decade after he sold his shares in Renaud & Papi, but returned in 2012 to start his own company, which this year launched the Dominique Renaud watch brand. As he is working on that project, he is also helping HYT. “He’s our master watchmaker, with the mission of helping us develop a new movement, which will take another two, three, four years,” Perriard says. Renaud is not the only outside contractor working on the project. So is the watchmaker Frédéric Garinaud, who designed Harry Winston’s Opus 8, and the movement-making company Krayon Sarl, in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The project got a huge boost in late February 2016, when HYT/Preciflex announced that it had secured an investment of 23 million Swiss francs to develop a “suite of Swiss-made products.” Among the products will be the new powerful movement, according to an HYT press release: “The … financing will enable HYT to launch a new proprietary and powerful movement allowing case size reduction in addition to the introduction of multiple fluidic indications.” The anchor investor is an unnamed Swiss-based private asset management company, which will join the HYT board. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman of Nestlé, is among the investors, and HYT’s existing shareholders also put in additional money.
The SF23 million is so-called “Series C” financing, the type raised when the company has achieved proven success and has grown to the level where it might go public or be acquired (although HYT has not publicly mentioned either possibility). In short, Series C means some serious people think fluidic modules might be the next big thing. Among the possible applications, such a module could be affixed to the skin, in the manner of a nicotine patch, and used to inject medicine in precise doses at precise times. The injections could be triggered remotely by a smartphone: there would be no risk of administering the wrong dosage or forgetting a dose. There are other possibilities for Preciflex’s fluidic modules, including in the automobile industry, the company believes. According to Perriard, watchmaking is “just the tip of the iceberg.”
This article originally appeared in WatchTime Magazine in 2016.