The HYT Skull: Fad, Trend, Style, Or Movement?
In the world of passing fads and trends, many enter but few succeed. It’s understandable: when an idea comes along that grabs the attention of the public everyone wants to be a part of it, including businesses and designers.
Many speak discordantly on the issue of trends and for a reason I think is the misunderstanding of the difference between a fad, a trend, a style, and a movement.
A fad is a short-term, popular activity or style that eventually peters out due to loss of interest. These can last from days to months, but rarely longer than year. A trend is a medium- to long-term activity or style that slowly evolves out of the general consensus. In fashion, this appears as a cut or shape in clothing that lasts multiple seasons, whereas a fad is usually relegated to one season before it disappears.
A style can either be the object by which fads or trends work, or it can be the mechanism in itself. Style can also outlast trends and fads such as men wearing suits to work. There can be overarching styles driven by longer social movements that change or stay the same regardless of intervening fads and trends.
Movements are things that start very slow, usually taking a long time to catch on, and then steadily change everything for everyone. These tend to be more social and political with the results being economic, but can also refer to art, music, literature, and even architecture (like baroque, neoclassic, and romantic).
More interesting is how people react to such fads, trends, and movements. There are those who view change as inherently bad, and thus recoil from any form of it. I call these people “persistent waiters.” They will resist change to the point of being the person who finally switches from records to MP3s in 2020 because it seems that they are finally “here to stay.” But until the entire planet seems to be on board, they refuse to accept a truth that may already long be obvious to others.
Then there are those who want change so badly that they are what help kick off fads and trends in the first place. These are people I call “drivers.” They are on the cutting edge of what is new and hip and will usually abandon an idea or style even before it really becomes a trend.
There is a third group of people I call “joiners.” These people populate the largest part of the bell curve of a fad or trend, participating at its peak because it is popular. They wait to see what is going to take off and once it does, they participate wholeheartedly until it seems to be declining in popularity.
And, finally, there are the “calculators,” those who watch fads, trends, and movements to see what was done poorly and what was done well, and then optimize the effect for a lasting memory of “but they did it the best.” In products, this is usually done about three-quarters of the way through the trend cycle so a solid foundation of examples can be examined and dissected to really understand what drives it.
Trend in watches
One trend that has been moving across the watch industry for a while is skull-related timepieces. Skulls and their depiction are not really a trend but more of a lasting style that has seeped into different industries at different times. Looking through art history, we note there has always been a fascination with skulls, and as such they provide inspiration to become popular in different areas at different times.
For this reason, making a skull-related anything is technically never a bad move, if you do it correctly and it makes sense (i.e., is coherent for you). If you do it to be a part of what you see as a trend or fad, then chances are it will be perceived as trite. “Joiners” suffer from this fate, but “drivers” and “calculators” don’t, because “drivers” are seen as fresh and “calculators” as smart.
With the skull trend, there have been those driving the trend, and many who have joined, but the calculators have largely made the best examples.
For me, the most on point and understandable skull watch can be none other than the HYT Skull. It stands out as a perfect synthesis of what the brand is about, what the brand’s customer will enjoy, and what is cool about skulls on watches in the first place.
Iron Man and capillary problems
The HYT Skull is Iron Man’s watch, no doubt, and any who disagree are just being difficult. But more importantly, it is a watch that allowed HYT to stretch its already long, technically advanced legs for a radical take on the brand’s patented liquid time complication. And this piece is definitely complicated, presenting new difficulties that HYT needed to overcome and a new category of time measurement, even for them.
First off, gone is the simple round capillary that depicted the hours while the minute hand ticked away. In its place is a very complicatedly shaped capillary hugging the main feature of the dial, a large looming skull.
This capillary was not a simple change; it in fact represented a huge issue for HYT. Its technical luminaries needed to figure out two large issues: how to make the time show accurately on an uneven shape, and how to make the capillary in this shape in the first place.
Bending the capillary almost 90 degrees in two places and introducing four other large angles makes for a tricky piece of glass bending. Beside getting the glass to cooperate smoothly and stay a perfectly symmetrical shape, bending almost 90 degrees introduces the possibility of kinking in the glass, which could constrict flow and alter the pressure needed for the system.
While getting the angles between the bellows and skulls just right was a real challenge, it was the sharp angles at 6 o’clock that proved the most difficult to produce. After a long process of trial and error, the capillary was made to the specifications required and the next step could be tackled, ensuring that the liquid flowed smoothly and consistently to tell time.
Slight adjustments were made to the cam-driving system to allow for the new flow rates required, and the lines coming off the numerals were used to help point to the accurate position of the fluid at the appropriate time.
This makes for a very unconventional time display, even for HYT, especially with the lack of a minute hand. This means that the way the time is told on the HYT Skull is not for those concerned with tenths of seconds but rather with the gradual passing of time, just like life.
In that sense the Skull also helps remind us of our mortality and also to not stress over every minute of our lives. In the center of the skull the bellows poke through a bit, acting as teeth, and in the eyes one sees that life still exists. The right eye (or left if you are the skull) is the power reserve indicator, slowly moving and changing from red to black as the reserve winds down. The left eye (or right from his view) displays seconds, spinning away the seconds that lead you to your own mortality.
But, really, they are reminders of life, and living in the face of certain death.
The size of the case has grown to a stately 51 millimeters, which should be large enough so that the concept of mortality never strays far from sight. A smaller watch hiding beneath the cuff would disappear and defeat that purpose.
The movement is a derived from the vertical bellows of the H1, but is unique to this model. There are two versions: one in titanium with green fluid and one in titanium and red gold with red fluid, the most “Iron Man” of the two.
This watch and this skull makes great sense for HYT, especially in comparison to a variety of other brands who have made skull watches apparently to simply cash in on a trend. To me, the Skull really seems to be something that the brand would have created either way, and it cohesively demonstrates what the brand is about: strong, masculine, technical watches that follow their own design cues.
That is why I name the HYT Skull as the most on point skull watch out there. If you like mechanics and skulls, then this piece is the epitome.
And Iron Man never breaks down, unlike this article!
• Wowza Factor * 9.6 How can you not be wowed by a giant skull with moving eyes and a tube of fluid in the shape of a skull telling you the time!
• Late Night Lust Appeal * 95.2g’s » 933.593m/s2 The force of this thing keeping your butt in the chair lusting is serious, you may just be stuck there all night!
• M.G.R. * 71.2 Fluid bellows system from HYT, same score as the HYT H1 and H2!
• Added-Functionitis * Mild Here we do have the ever popular power reserve, so you will need children’s strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream to manage the fluid- and skull-induced swelling from this piece.
• Ouch Outline * 9.1 – Waxing Your Shins Like A Swimmer Hair belongs on your body, and when ripped from your skin it is a displeasure many women and swimmers understand. But if it got me this piece…of course I would do it!
• Mermaid Moment * Twelve Hours Of Fluid Just one trip of the fluid around the dial and it will have you calling the reverend for an appointment!
• Awesome Total * 912.9 Multiply the dimensions of the grand case (51 x 17.9 mm) and you have a seriously awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.hytwatches.com.
Case: 51 x 17.9 mm; titanium, black DLC-coated titanium, and red gold
Movement: manual-wind exclusive HYT caliber
Functions: hours, seconds; power reserve
Limitation: 50 pieces (green) and 25 pieces (red)
Price: 90,000 Swiss francs (green) and 100,000 Swiss francs (red)