HYT Moon Runner: A Moon Phase Straight Outta Cyberpunk
In the world of science fiction and futurism there are a variety of subgenres that help to organize the themes and ideologies behind the allegories, creating like-minded works. Depending on how deep you want to go, there are also dozens of micro-genres that focus on even more specific ideas, parts of the world, or aspects of humanity.
But taken more broadly, some key subgenres of sci-fi are pretty popular with those that think about ideas of the future; some of which you will be familiar with and some that will be brand new. Many may know the Post-Apocalyptic genre that has spawned hundreds of subgenres based on water scarcity, climate change, nuclear fallout, global disease, global war, alien invasions, economic collapse, or some other catastrophic society-ending issue.
Yet most sci-fi assumes a world of technological advancement, so we see subgenres like Cyberpunk, a future based on high tech with a gritty neon aesthetic, or Biopunk, a future where medical advancement allows for augmented biology, sometimes with sinister consequences. My favorite is Solarpunk, an optimistic future based on collaboration between technology and sustainability, resulting in a garden-like technological utopia. Like all subgenres, it leans heavily on political ideology, in which a post-scarcity society is incredibly green.
Other subgenres have come from non-Western points of view like Afrofuturism, which tackles issues like the African diaspora and it’s relation to the advancing technology and multicultural future. An emerging subgenre from China is called Chaohuan, or “ultra-unreal” that focuses on social issues and philosophies, often treading carefully around the present reality of politics in China.
Another genre centered in the Arabic-speaking
worlds is Gulf Futurism that leans into issues of wealth, rapid development, and the loss of community and culture from the hyper-advancement of technology.
No matter the genre, they all form a portal exploring ideas of the future in a way that is both philosophically and aesthetically pleasing to their fan bases. Cyberpunk is possibly the most widely known subgenre of futuristic science fiction thanks to films like Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, and TV series’ like Altered Carbon. These have created a standard visual language that can easily translate to other mediums. Dark, angular, and gritty industrial shapes mixed with smooth, shiny, colorful technology, bright neon lights, heavy doses of space architecture, often with an ambiguously Japanese influence, this is built into the cyberpunk aesthetic.
The HYT Moon Runner collection fits perfectly within that artificial world, a watch designed in a universe blurring the line between terrestrial and interplanetary travel, with massive, diverse, and dark cityscapes filled with glowing neon.
The HYT Moon Runner collection is straight out of cyberpunk.
HYT Moon Runner
As HYT comes back from corporate restructuring and is reborn into a new era for the company, new design directions are starting to form. The Moon Runner is the latest collection and has three versions that feel like they were picked off the screen of a futuristic cyberpunk movie. It all begins with the massive hemispherical moon phase sitting right in the middle of the dial.
The large bicolor hemisphere is surrounded by two beveled rings tracking the date and months, and gives the impression of a UFO or piece of advanced navigational equipment.
Hanging over top of the moon is a large ring, supported by a single-sided arch providing a floating window for viewing the phase of the moon. Outside of the central display we find the minute hand, following the circular path around the dial and pointing to an inwardly sloped ring bearing five-minute numerals.
At this point, we have finally reached the HYT jewel-in-the-crown, a capillary hour indication, a tiny glass tube wraping around the dial and indicating the hours via the boundary between two immiscible (unmixable) fluids. Just beyond the hour ring we find the hour numerals at the edge of the dial, completing the display, or so it would seem.
As I said, this design is like something out of a cyberpunk thriller, so it wouldn’t be complete without some neon glow, and these models deliver. Each version is a bit different thanks to various finishes, but with tons of Super-Luminova applied to a whole host of surfaces combined with hour numerals made from a luminous Super-Luminova resin called Lumicast.
A Moon Runner watch looks like an epic cyberpunk cityscape shrunk down for the wrist.
The glass tube even glows, mostly from behind, as the fluid helps to magnify the Super-Luminova underneath. This is the most neon-like aspect of the Moon Runner, and it seems HYT grasped this fact based on the second model in the series, the Moon Runner White Neon. This model utilizes a black liquid for the hour indication so that the clear portion seems to glow much brighter in contrast.
Additionally, this model incorporates a hybrid ceramic material in the case called Tec Light, which is a luminescent ceramic material. That allows portions of the case to glow from within the sandwiched carbon frame. This model takes the cyberpunk neon aesthetic to the extreme, but all capture the same feeling.
This new design direction showcases how HYT is both highlighting and diverting attention away from its innovative technology, the mechanical fluid time display. Many models of the past sought to emphasize the delicate yet precisely engineered bellows system enabling the HYT models to advance a liquid through a capillary tube by compressing the bellows exactly 1.5 microns per minute.
It’s hard to convey precisely how much research and development has gone into the HYT technology, and it is partly why the brand has struggled to capitalize on this engineering. The perfect formulation of the two immiscible liquids, the delicate engineering of a mechanical bellows system (with walls thinner than a human hair), and the careful design of the cam system to move the liquid a fixed distance over small and large increments of time was intense.
Just sealing a system that requires this precise engineering is no small feat, but the incredible novelty of the system doesn’t make a brand last, so HYT understands that a watch like the Moon Runner needs to stand on its own.
Outside of the tiny glass capillary for displaying the hours, nothing about the front of the Moon Runner models tries to convince you that the method of time display is inherently special for its own sake. The application of luminous materials gives the time display its purpose. This shows an acceptance on the part of HYT to justify the existence of this specific display style by making it thematically fit within the design of the watch.
No matter how exceptional or novel an idea is, after a while, it becomes accepted and loses its luster. It’s obvious that there are easier and less expensive ways to show the time, so why this liquid display is important needs to be justified, at least in part, by the aesthetics of the piece. There have been small brands that couldn’t quite grasp this and have struggled to find their center, but it seems HYT has finally found a path forward with the Moon Runner.
I have always loved the fluidic display of the HYT, writing at length about exactly how it works in previous articles, as well as how it has created the look of a neon tube under a black light. From the imagery created by the brand, even from the very beginning, it was clear that HYT understood the futuristic cyberpunk aesthetics of the concept, but design usually focused on the “hydro mechanical horology” aspect of the brand.
But with the Moon Runner it is evident that CEO and creative director Davide Cerrato and legendary movement designer Eric Coudray sussed out how to make the fluidic display a meaningful addition to the watch by leaning into the cyberpunk, futuristic aesthetic. The dark finishes, satin surfaces, glow emanating from everywhere, and the neon tube wrapping around the dial, when put together, transports you like the UFO it represents to a new planet you’d find at the center of a cyberpunk drama.
A solid direction
The central moon has an almost sandy surface when you look closely, which matches the suede of the strap, a texture evoking thoughts of a gritty megalopolis alleyway. The Moon Runner Red Magma leans a bit more sinisterly into the aesthetic, with a stated inspiration of the volcanically active earth, but it could easily inspire visions of a lava planet with glowing cities built over chasms of flowing magma.
All of the cyberpunk imagery I’ve seen over the years puts these watches squarely in the center of the aesthetic. It even has the mechanical underbelly so often seen in these depictions, because the incredible micro-fluidic 601-MO caliber is fully visible from the rear, giving you a clear view into what makes it all run. But it doesn’t lead with that for the focus, it works to create a more cohesive identity for the Moon Runner.
My only nit to pick is that I have yet to see or hear any indication how accurate the moon phase is which is always a fact I like to know as “the moon phase guy.” But just like with the micro-fluidics, it isn’t the purpose of this watch. Some watches are made to be hyper accurate moon phase displays, some just to evoke emotions. It’s obvious which category the Moon Runner falls into.
Sadly I haven’t had the opportunity to spend any time with the new Moon Runner varieties and I’m hoping to remedy that soon, but it is fairly certain that I will like them as much or more when I have them on my wrist. HYT has always been a game changer in the world of horology, and seeing them come back from bankruptcy and launch a more cohesive aesthetic while staying true to the brand is awesome to see.
If the next collection continues down the path of purposeful inclusion of the novel fluid display, then it looks like HYT will continue being one of my favorite independent brands in the game.
Now, being careful not to spill the liquids in the fluidic system, let’s break this thing down!
- Wowza Factor * 9.6 With a massive spherical moon phase and enough luminous material to read a book, the Moon Runner is bound to make any watch lover say wowza!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 96 » 941.438m/s2 Travelling the stars, or at least to the moon, with a watch straight out of a cyberpunk thriller is enough to keep me up until the wee hours!
- M.G.R. * 70.8 The only thing that could make such an amazing movement get a better score from me would be a hyper accurate moon phase, and maybe a tad more attention to finishing on the movement, but mechanically it is pretty incredible!
- Added-Functionitis * Moderate A spherical moon phase, date, and month indicator is enough to make you require some regular strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream and spend the rest of your night admiring the vibes right out of Blade Runner!
- Ouch Outline * 12.1 A failing shoulder joint! Being a high school baseball pitcher without a proper coach or trainer is sure to do one thing, destroy your shoulder joint by the time you hit 20. As I approach the middle of my life, I am very aware of needing to rehab my shoulder joint as pain increases for even normal tasks. But I would gladly do it all over again if it meant I’d eventually get this watch on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Is this a prop straight out of Ghost In The Shell?! The style is immediately what drew me to the Moon Runner, it instantly transported me into some of the best futuristic cyberpunk stories and made me want to make it official!
- Awesome Total * 817 Start by taking the number of current variations (3) and multiply that by the power reserve in hours (72), then add the result to the caliber number (601) and the result will be a truly futuristic awesome total!
For more information, please visitwww.hytwatches.com/models.
Quick Facts HYT Moon Runner Supernova
Case: 48 x 21.8 mm, 316L coated titanium, coated titanium and Hydrocarbon, or Hydrocarbon and TecLight ceramic
Indications: semi-spherical moonphase, capillary hours, minutes, date and month
Movement: manual winding caliber HYT 601-MO, 72-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4Hz
Limitation: Red Magma – 27 pieces, White Neon – 10 pieces, Supernova Blue – 27 Pieces
Price: $120,000 in carbon and titanium, $125,000 in titanium, $130,000 in carbon and ceramic