Liquid-piston-driven concept watch

Watchismo gives us an early look at Vincent Perriard & Co's HYT H1, a concept watch starting at $45,000 that will debut at the Baselworld 2012 show. It uses liquid-driven pistons as well as gears to tell the time. I am agog.

Pistons in the movement move the bellows. As one expands the other one compresses which moves the green Fluorescein liquid. Fluorescein even has applications in forensics to detect latent blood stains but this is likely a first and only use in horology!

Sneak Peek to Baselworld 2012 - HYT H1 - the first timepiece ever to combine mechanical and liquid engineering.


  1. I guess if the world needs wildly overpriced useless luxury goods for people with more money than sense, a fancy watch is a good choice – it takes a lot less energy and materials to build one of those compared to a Rolls Royce or a mansion.

    1. Useless?  It does tell the time.  And a Rolls gets you from A to B.

      I think what you mean is extravagant.  And overpriced?  The market decides that my friend, not you or I.

      I can’t deny the material waste argument though, and it’s an important thing for everyone to remember – but I don’t think piston powered watches are a particularly high on the list of wasteful extravagances, and you seem to understand that.

      1. Not even when they are $45,000 and probably not as accurate as a $5 quartz watch from K-Mart?

        It’s a textbook example of extravagance. 

        1. A $5 watch from K-mart? It would be more accurate than that, but yes, a reputable quartz watch (citizen, etc.) would be, in turn, more accurate than this.

          But really, this misses the point. Mechanical watch design these days is a labour of love, in fact, these kinds of things represent the pinnacle of non electric manufacturing. Does this make it worth a $45,000 price tag? Not it does not.

          It is worth remembering that this watch was probably not made with the aim of selling it to rich folk, or even selling it at all. The designer(s) being horologists, most likely merely wanted to do something innovative and (mechanically) beautiful in a field that has proven so hard to innovate in – the watch you see now being sold is more of an after the fact justification than anything else. If it wasn’t it would simply be a quartz watch. Why bother with all that work for a product that won’t sell well, and costs more to produce – unless you are truly passionate about it?

           I, for one, fully support artisans/artists working to achieve their own idea of beauty.

          1. One day, on a train, I got chatting to an old watchmaker (I miss such random train chats. You don’t get that in the US).

            He was a quiet gentleman, with a sadness about him – he knew that the great days of watchmaking were gone, and that the only real scope for his profession was in rich boy’s toys.

            But there was also a quiet joy, a sparkle in his eyes, as he told me of his trade, how he’d got into it as a child, half a century earlier, the amazing engineering feats he and his colleagues performed daily, making their masterpieces just for the joy of the achievement.

            Kind of like programming, really. Nobody but our colleagues will ever appreciate the quality of our code; so with a watchmaker, their work will only ever really be appreciated by their peers.

    2. Any art could be given the title ‘wildly overpriced useless luxury good’ – this does not necessarily decrease its inherent beauty.

    1. If I had $45,000 to spend on a watch, I’d pull out my phone (which tells time at least as accurately as this watch) and look on the internet (let’s see this watch do that) in order to find some charitable cause that can benefit from a $45,000 gift.
      Who knows… maybe they’ll just buy a watch with it.

    1. What governments should actually be doing is getting into the luxury goods business. They can sell wildly over priced, conspicuous consumer goods to the ultra rich, so they can tax themselves!

  2. These crazy watch designers must live in a remote village that’s part of a hermit kingdom where they haven’t yet discovered electronic oscillation that is regulated via quartz.

    But by all means, carry on. Especially you kids at Urwerk!

    1. If Vertu released a phone as intricately engeneerd as it’s price tag would suggest, then yes it would be cool.

      It’s not the price that made the Vertu dumb it was the lack of technology. Sure, this watch is stupidly overpriced and beyond extravagant, but atleast you actually get what you pay for; it is not a 20 dollar Casio with some gold on it, it’s techhnological art.

      1. Hah – it actually seems worse than a Vertu-style pricejack for outdated technology.

        The watch employs some highly specialized mechanisms with no benefits to that complexity. That kind of flim-flam only serves to explain away the crazy price tag – might as well say made with fairy juice. And it’s going to be unfixable by anyone other than the original manufacturer. 

        1. Actually within the realms of horology there could be numerous benefits to this design. Namely, this design could facilitate less metal on metal friction, decreasing wear and increasing reliability and longevity. I am not going to pretend this is the reason for this watch being, but that is a benefit.

          Additionally, inventiveness, creativity and intricacy are (according to me) synonyms for beauty. Beauty, as we all know, is its own reward.

          I have to call you out on the fixibility point too – modern watch repairers are trained to work on virtually any watch (as there are a lot of odd vintage watches/clocks out there). This includes parts fabrication. It probably also uses a fairly standard escapement.

      2. I see lots of moving parts. Hundreds of individual opportunities for failure. In my book, that’s called a lack of technology, this *not* being 1891, and all.

        1. I think you will find a well built mechanical watch is far more durable than any modern electronic one. It also has the benefit of being far more reparable.

          (You would be surprised how much mechanical watch technology has come since 1891, or even since 1970 – a lack of technology this watch certainly is not)

          1. Yeah… gonna need to go ahead and disagree with you on both of your assertions.
            A $10 Casio will last about 20-30 years, with absolutely no maintenance, other than the replacement of batteries. Other than those, no component will ever need to be replaced, except, perhaps, the band.
            Therefore, the ease of repair is irrelevant, because it will never need to be repaired.
            Moving parts = technical obsolescence. Would be different if this could conceivably maintain the exact time without adjustment for years. But it can’t.

        2. (I cannot find the reply button on your later comment, so I am replying to this one as a proxy)

          A $10 Casio may well last that long, but the only reason it will never be repaired is because a new one will be bought when it fails, you wouldn’t even bother with a new strap when a new watch is cheaper. When the watch does fail, as it will, it is essentially irreparable. 

          On the other hand, many of even the cheapest watches of 100 years yore are running fine, with replacement parts available, and still completely fixable if they break down. These watches have the crappiest of mechanical movements, they have lots of friction and wear internally, yet they still run (with no maintenance). They don’t even make mechanical watches that shitty today. Clocks from the 1700’s, and even earlier, are still running today.

          I agree that quartz watches are capable of being very durable, and very practical, but your idea that mechanical watches are less durable is something of a fantasy. In modern mechanical watches the internal stresses are extremely low, there is very little friction, there isn’t really anything to disturb the components short of a hammer. The same applies with a quartz watch of reasonable caliber, but the mechanical watch stands a fighting chance of seeing the year 2400.

          Your technology point is entirely semantic. Not all technology is electronic, and in not all cases is electronic technology better for a given purpose. Horses for courses.

          I will gladly concede that most quartz watches are more accurate than mechanical counterparts, but really, mechanical watches to me are a thing of beauty. To you they need to tell the time exactly forever. For my purpose, mechanical watches are far from obsolete.

      1. I  don’t know anything about these Meshech and Tubal characters and I have no idea how their stuff got into the trunk of my car.

          1. Thank you, Antinous, that was a rewarding web search.  I am agog, recursively!

            But I categorically deny being chained to any palaces or gates, and I’ve never been to Melbourne.

  3. I used to work in watches (sales/collecting) and know a bit about them. Lets clarify this one though…the watch is powered by hand winding, while the fluid acts as the hour indicator. That means that this watch is only offering a novel time display mechanism, which is admittedly still pretty cool.

  4. Now remember folks, in a survival situation you point the hour hand toward the sun, and half the measure between that and 12 is your southern bearing! Now that’s money.

    1. Great trick!  As long as you’re in the northern hemisphere, anyway.  The same trick points (very close to) true north if you’re in Melbourne, so it’s money there too.

  5. At 45K, I’ll have to stick with my 8 dollar Casio to tell time. Besides, I don’t know anyone who would be impressed by pistons in a watch.

  6. Marketing fail. 
    They introduce *pistons* into a watch and the announcement for it goes with the shiny automotive approach. They should’ve gone after the wealthy steam-punk crowd and given it a ton of rivets and whirligig thingamajigs. The commercial could be scratchy sepia tone with scratchy jazz music.

  7. If it gets some of the one percent’s money back in circulation them I’m all for it.

    I’ll have to wait for the cheap knockoff which turns green after 2 weeks, though.

  8. I’m astonished by the number of people here who fail to realise that this is jewelry, albeit jewelery with a function other than just being pleasing to look at.

    Jewelery is expensive, precision engineered jewelry even more so.  Sure, I’d never buy one, and I might question the sanity of someone who did, but to me it’s no different to buying a diamond ring, bit of antique furniture or a painting for your wall.  Some people just like shiny things, and they’re lucky enough to be able to afford them.

    With regards to the watch… I love it.  I’d buy one of those over a huge diamond ring any day.  Looks fantastic.

  9. While anyone armed with a smart phone will have access to a more accurate estimate of the time of day than you, they will quiver before your Horological Might as they strain to see the tiny liquid-filled pistons pumping up and down, beating them into submission. You will crush your enemies and reduce them to tears whenever someone asks “anybody got the time?” 

  10. Um…. does this actually exist? All I see is a whole lot of rendered animation. If it does, then great, seems like a nice piece of art.

    Otherwise, I’d like to announce my zombie-powered watch which will be available soon. It’s the first time ever that undead technology has been leveraged in the field of horology. Watch for our 8-bit animated preview trailer!

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