One of the most outlandish and innovative independent watch brands we’ve ever seen, HYT has been astonishing collectors with its weird and wonderful hydro-mechanical wristwatches since 2010. Defined by the colourful liquids which illustrate the passage of the hours in two twelve-hour cycles, which begin and end at the six o’clock, where a pair of rhodium plated bellows expand and compress as they propel the fluid through a fine glass capillary, the HYT method is both unique and verging upon the taboo, as no other watch brand would dare to combine the delicate mechanical internals in any proximity to a liquid.

The new Skull 48.8 by HYT is an extraordinary piece indeed, even by the brand’s already uncompromising standards. In satin brushed and sandblasted Grade 5 titanium the hard wearing but lightweight metal takes on a bright appearance, complementing the anthracite shading of the dial area, which is enclosed beneath a pronounced dome of sapphire crystal. The centrepiece of this incredible piece is the huge blue skull which dominates the entire watch, and makes it impossible to conceal. Finished with a varnish of vivid blue opaline this is most definitely an eyecatching watch.

With two sunken eye sockets and using the signature bellows for its mouth, the skull is imposing, but these features are cleverly incorporated into the time display, as within the eyes the seconds and power reserve are indicated via recessed discs. Lower down the jaw contains the twin bellows, used to draw the viscous liquid through the glass vein which traces the outline of the shape of the skull. On the Skull 48.8 there are no minutes, but it’s not difficult to make a fairly accurate at-a-glance approximation of the time, as the hour markers extend right up to the capillary, within which a blue liquid is hydraulically circulated as the hours pass by, and the time in hours only is intuitive once familiar.

Behind the novelty of the fluidic time display a bespoke manual winding movement performs the unusual function of compressing and expanding the bellows, so while one pressures the coloured fluid you can see around the skull, the other draws a clear one that you can’t from the other end, where the tube disappears below to a pair of reservoirs at the six. At the point of six o’clock the process is reversed over a few seconds, as the colour is forced back to start again.

Beating at 28’800 vph and boasting a power reserve of 65 hours, the hand finished movement can be fully appreciated through a clear sapphire caseback.

The strap is manufactured in a grey hi-tech fabric which matches the colour of the 48.8mm titanium case, and the blue rubber inlay corresponds to the colour of the skull.