If the expression ‘ground-breaking innovation’ might be used a little liberally in the watch industry, there are few alternative ways to accurately describe the extraordinary watches of avant-garde watch brand HYT. The fruit of a collaboration with the LeMans Series team set up by Olivier Panis and Fabien Barthez, the HYT H4 Panis-Barthez Compétition is a dominating watch with huge presence, which has been designed to give the racing driver an unparalleled display of time in daytime or in the dead of night as his duel continues.
With pronounced styling cues, the influence of motor racing on the H4 Panis-Barthez Compétition is infused into every aspect of its spectacular display. Its inspiration is lifted from the colour coded function settings on the steering wheel used by the ELMS team in their Ligier racer, and around the edge an oily green fluid in a fine glass capillary slowly creeps to indicate the hour. At night its party piece is the mechanically energised dynamo which, on the command of a press on the crown at 4.30, gives a light module the power to flood the display with a burst of a cool blue glow which reacts with the fluid to glow in ultra-violet.
Above the two steel bellows which compress and expand to push the hour fluid around, the upper dial is part skeletonised and on a brake disc-like sapphire mini dial the minutes are displayed. The multi-coloured offset seconds disc is a replica of the settings control on the steering wheel, and across, the power reserve is indicated like a fuel gauge.
To the rear, a sapphire caseback reveals the stripped back plates, and the balance and escapement which along with the barrel and gear train are compacted above the pair of bellows.
At 51mm in a pure black DLC titanium case, the H4 Panis-Barthez Compétition is a hulking mass of racing goodness, and not for the faint of heart. It is presented on a black rubber strap, with stitched black nomex overlay, and it secures with a PVD titanium folding clasp.