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HYT: The hands-free revolution

Gregory Dourde, CEO of HYT Watches, the brand that eschews classic hands and incorporates liquid into mechanical watchmaking, on what makes him tick

The HYT project is anchored in modernity, reflected by our representation of the time like a progress bar of your day.

I was drawn to the watchmaking industry… because I wanted to create, to invent, to propose a new way of perceiving time and to actively promote it. This is a time linked to space, that is intuitive. It is a visualisation of one’s past and future moments, and time is displayed in our watches at the boundary between these two things. This way of reading the time gives us a unique experience. It transforms our perception of time. It’s unique, emotional and universal.

As CEO of HYT Watches, my most unbelievable find has been… Radicality, risk-taking, interdisciplinarity and having a holistic approach are values that made it possible to get this new technology off the ground. We need values like creativity and innovation. When you’re lucky enough to be able to combine science, technology, the arts and philosophy, a project takes on a multidimensional, enormous and unprecedented quality. In this way, we can change the world.

The brand I currently feel most connected to is… HYT, the time-teller.

The first watch I ever received was… From memory it was from the French brand Yema and had a rectangular case. It was given to me by my parents when I was 12.

The HYT project is anchored in modernity, reflected by our representation of the time like a progress bar of your day.

I think the horology industry and high-end luxury is… at the beginning of an important period of profound transformation. Traditional marketing methods — beautiful advertisements, celebrity endorsements, etc — are becoming old fashioned, outdated. The new generations have an expectation of authenticity and modernity that will open up important avenues of expression for brands in what are now seen as niche markets. Some very large luxury brands, not watchmakers, have understood this and are adapting. This offers us opportunities and is confirmed by the growing interest in independent brands like HYT.

The greatest development I’ve seen from my brand is… HYT as a whole ecosystem, together with its sister company, Preciflex. We start with ideas, problems we want to solve, and by inventing solutions from the third millennium, the R&D team creates systems and radical new components. As we invent shapes and functions, we also have to invent the machines to produce them… We work for different industries and we have cross-pollination, which enriches and stimulates our work. The interactions with for example medical technology is so rich!

An object from outside the industry that has an important effect on my work is… the screen — on my mobile phone, computer, TV, car dashboards… I’m sitting in an airport lounge as I am writing this. I look at the people around me and 95% are just looking at a screen! I like to analyse the way digital communication is transforming us.
Take the way information is displayed, for example. This is more and more often numbers or gauges that show the progression of something — no longer static hands, like on a classic watch. These indicators are shaping our habits and the ones of the younger generations even more radically. Teenagers are less and less able to read the time using hands… I believe this is what drives us to adapt.
The HYT project is anchored in modernity, reflected by our representation of the time like a progress bar of your day. It is intuitive, multidimensional and provides you with a unique experience. Screens and their contents are driving our modernity. Let’s add a soul to these; let it be fluid!

On my desk you’ll always find… Post-its to take quick and temporary notes, to avoid having my computer distract me during meetings and focus all my attention on the people I meet.

My favourite aspect of my role is… the human interactions. With the team, with industrial partners and, of course, with our customers — both end consumers and trade partners.

The last gift I received from someone in the industry was… congratulations on HYT’s achievements.

I think the Middle East market is… very knowledgeable, with a strong collector base and an important business and tourism hub. Developing this amazing cultural and historical place is one of our top three priorities this year. As a young company, we’re eager to establish a strong presence here, putting education, experience and interactions at the centre of our approach.

Watch journalism is important because… it educates and gives visibility to independent brands that cannot afford huge sums of money in advertising. It helps the final customers to develop their own knowledge and diversifies the offers available to them, which in itself enriches the whole watch industry.

If you had a time machine, is there a period of watchmaking you would change, and how? I have a time machine, which is working very well — it puts me in the NOW! This period is amazing and also so dangerous. Remember what Darwin said, it is not the strongest who survive, but those most able to change. We live a new period of enlightenment, and we need to adapt to an accelerated, ever-changing environment. Be ready!

You have a dinner party and can invite any masters of the watchmaking industry past or present, who would you invite? Nicolas Hayek. He was a mentor for me when I was in my early 30s, and I often remember discussions with him that have shaped my mind. He was an entrepreneur — intuitive, smart, multidimensional, with core values.

How do you unwind outside of work? With my family, mountain biking and going out dancing with friends.

The advent of digitisation in the industry… has already happened!

If I didn’t work in the watch industry I would… paint.

Related Articles

Start up: Time online

Debonair talks to Khaled Elsayed, Khalil Al-Kaddo and Adil Iskander, the team behind Timepiece 360, the region’s first dedicated online marketplace for pre-owned luxury watches