Hands-On With The HYT Conical Tourbillon Black Eklipse — A Microscopic Star System Spinning Out Of Control
One of the maddest creations that I discovered during last week’s travels to the center of the horological universe was, most definitely, the HYT Conical Tourbillon Black Eklipse. The ultra-complicated watch was like a star system within a star system — a star system gone rogue. What you see is apparent mechanical chaos. You’re waiting for the watch to implode, but it doesn’t. A quick hands-on with this watch, which also shows HYT’s signature hydromechanical features, is an attack on the senses. Are you ready for the chaos?
The Neuchâtel-based brand HYT blasted onto the scene 10 years ago with a unique hydromechanical wristwatch. Fluids and techniques from the medical industry were used to create watches that showed the time with the help of brightly colored liquids. To celebrate a decade of hydromechanical watches working with tiny bellows to move the fluid for the indication of time, HYT puts a modern take on a traditional horological invention, the tourbillon. The stage for the spectacle is a 48 × 25.15mm watch case made of titanium and carbon with a lug-to-lug length of 52.3mm. Yes, it’s a big and tall watch — the giant domed gigantic domed sapphire crystal is to “blame” for that — but on the other hand, it’s also quite small considering all the action that goes on inside it.
The HYT Conical Tourbillon Black Eklipse is an attack on the senses
The central tourbillon in the HYT Conical Tourbillon Black Eklipse, for instance, is not just any tourbillon. First, the tourbillon inside the watch is tilted. Master watchmaker Eric Coudray took inspiration from the unique inclined-balance tourbillon developed by Walter Prendel in 1928. Prendel was a German watchmaker from Glashütte who constructed a six-minute flying tourbillon with an angle of 30 degrees and a tilted balance to improve stability and performance.
Coudray’s modern take on Prendel’s fantastic invention is the central star in the sand-blasted and brushed caliber 701 TC. This is a hand-wound mechanical movement beating at a 3Hz frequency. The characteristic retrograde fluid hour markers are there as well. But the speedy, dynamic motion of the suspended conical tourbillon sucks in all the attention like a black hole. One can’t help but be entranced by the balance spring pulsating at 30 degrees to horizontal, the escape wheel oscillating at 15 degrees, and the pallet ticking away at 23 degrees.
Watchmaker Eric Coudray used his signature conical tourbillon — a device he named the “Cônillon,” which is a revision and reinterpretation of Prendel’s tilted tourbillon — and took the concept even further. The fast-moving tourbillon completes a clockwise revolution in 30 seconds, and it’s surrounded by three tiny, moving spheres. Those spheres, each just 2.5mm in diameter, are filled with the same green luminous fluid that is used to indicate the retrograde hours.
For your hypnotizing entertainment, the three orbs rotate clockwise at different speeds. Under the massive domed sapphire and above the industrial-looking black movement, one orb completes four turns a minute, another one does five turns a minute, and the third completes six turns a minute.
Loud like a thousand unsynchronized Swatches
All this spinning not only causes a dynamic, hypnotic spectacle, but it also does other things. Functional things such as stabilizing the conical tourbillon’s rate. Paradoxically, the seemingly chaotic movements don’t upset the equilibrium. The unconnected, rapid movements of the spheres ensure that the conical tourbillon keeps perfect time. What the movement also does is tick — and unbelievably loudly at that! The domed sapphire acts as some sort of boombox. And that sphere makes the HYT Conical Tourbillon Black Eklipse sound like a thousand unsynchronized Swatches.
Up until last week, the 2022 Moon Runner White Neon with its outer-worldly glow was my favorite HYT watch of the bunch. That all changed when I put the loud, maniacally chaotic Conical Tourbillon Black Eklipse on my wrist. The watch lights up like the aurora borealis, and once I embraced the madness on my wrist, it blew me away. There was just one slight problem: the price of the Conical Tourbillon Black Eklipse is CHF 335,000 before taxes.
The astronomical price is the practical/financial problem that stands between the watch and me. But maybe that’s a good thing. I bet that all eight people who are lucky/affluent enough to buy the limited-edition Conical Tourbillon Black Eklipse and decide to wear it daily will surely go mad. Or, at the very least, they will develop a serious tick. Hey, my left eye started twitching uncontrollably after spending just two minutes with the watch. The noise and the micromechanical visual mayhem are just too much for the human brain and nervous system to cope with. But boy, is this watch spectacular!
Please find more information on the Conical Tourbillon Black on the official HYT website.
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