Fluid Ambition: Dominique Renaud talks about his early days at HYT

Master watchmaker, Dominique Renaud is a man who has lived and dreamt up some wild horology. From his early days at Audemars Piguet, to the establishment of Audemars Piguet Renaud and Papi in 1992, Monsieur Renaud’s name has been attributed towards helping many big names in the Swiss watch industry realize their horological ambitions. Late last year in 2014, after a decade away from watchmaking, he joined ranks with the mavericks at HYT to pursue a new ambition – a fluid ambition.

Monsieur Renaud was in town recently, and I simply had to take the opportunity to ask him all my burning questions about his new endeavor. The following is a transcript from that conversation.

Dominique Renaud - Master Watchmaker
Dominique Renaud – Master Watchmaker

Dominique, its nice to see you in Singapore. I asked you this question yesterday, but I want to ask it again. Your initial responsibility at HYT when you joined was to start the workshop. How has the progress been so far?

Today, we have one watchmaker who has joined the office of Preciflex and another who joined us in the HYT office, and around ten more people will join in the next 12 months.

Picking up on what you said yesterday – Dominique Renaud, with his reputation, chose the little guys, HYT. I would like to ask Monsieur Renaud why he chose to work with HYT.

One of the reasons was to join a young and motivated team that seemed to have a big challenge in front of them. The other reason was the challenge itself. There is a lot of potential behind this technology, now that the first challenges have been resolved in terms of calibration and fine-tuning.

You’ve always been referred to as a master watchmaker, and you have a reputation from many interesting and exciting pieces in the past, with APRP (Audemars Piguet Renaud and Papi) and so on. Can you explain to someone who is not so familiar with watchmaking, what the difference is between a watchmaker and a master watchmaker in your opinion?

The watchmaker is more defined as a professional who can assemble and disassemble a watch, but does not go into creating complications, or notions of horology, or interprets and imagines new ways to translate time or translate complications.

Do you dream about watches when you sleep?

Oh yes, even before dreaming. Between sleeping and waking up, I see concepts and systems and I love to imagine and to find solutions to those concepts. That happens very frequently for me, to have these visions.

Dominique Renaud in his studio at Renaud & Papi, 1988
Dominique Renaud in his studio at Renaud & Papi, 1988

Have you found any interesting solutions in your dreams that have resulted in a piece that you have done before?

Yes of course, very often actually, even with great complications for IWC when I was working for (Gunter) Blumlein. I think it’s a state of mind, which is very interesting, between consciousness and awakening. Just before falling asleep, the mind is very clear and very open. This happens very often, even today, but not only when I’m almost falling asleep. Rest assured, during the day I am also finding solutions.

The IWC Il Destriero Scafusia was One of Monsieur Renaud’s Dreamy Realisations

A question that I asked you yesterday but I want to ask you again; you worked at the highest levels of watchmaking for a long time, then you decided to take a ten-year break. You did a lot of things during that time as I was told. Was it a very useful period for you to step back and recharge your batteries, and then step back into the world of watchmaking again?

It was a very fruitful break. During that time, I could imagine even further, and I kept things in my drawers and I improved them. Now, I’m back with ideas that I want to express under my name, Dominique Renaud. I’m really pumped up.

Dominique Renaud in front of Renaud & Papi's new location at Locle, 1990
Dominique Renaud in front of Renaud & Papi’s new location at Locle, 1990

HYT is a very interesting brand, because HYT introduced a way of indicating time with liquids that had never been seen before. I was also surprised when I first saw the H1. What were your thoughts when you first saw a watch like that?

When I first discovered the offices of HYT and Preciflex, and the facility where we make the fluid technology, I was completely amazed by the rigor, the seriousness, and all the different jobs that contributed to the realization of this technology, as well as how complex it was. I was really blown away by how this was mastered and how this could be moved ahead. Of course, if you have the opportunity to come to Switzerland, you can be our guest at our facilities and see for yourself how complex the process is. It will change your mind.

With HYT’s very unique way of displaying the time, I’m sure you have very interesting ideas on how to take the concept further. Maybe you can give me a sense of what your thoughts are about the future of liquid technology?

One of the main challenges that the technology is facing in order to move ahead, on which I am concentrating, is the use of energy. Tackling that will answer the question of further complications for HYT and fluid technology. Even for something as basic as the minutes, it takes a lot of energy to accomplish, as you are moving more fluid, and pressing the bellows requires a lot of energy from the mechanical movement. But I am also foreseeing, flows of regular fluid that would be supplied at a correct pace and a correct influx into the movement itself.

The HYT H3 with retrograde fluid hour indication and retrograde minute indication

HYT is a relatively young company and HYT has done very well in terms of sales and in terms of the team that has been assembled. Being someone so experienced in the watchmaking industry, what do you personally think of Vincent Perirard’s direction for the company so far?

Vincent was named by another journalist as the man who shoots faster than his shadow. He is extremely reactive and very fast-paced. His dynamism is quite impressive, and he certainly knows how to move the brand ahead in the market. Just as I am a horology master, he is a marketing master, and I believe the promotion of the brand will go very well. We have a good team.

You can find more information about the team at HYT and their work at www.hytwatches.com

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