Sunday, 8 February 2015

Dominique Renaud and HYT Immersion... Of Skulls, Fluids & Revolution!

Dominique Renaud and immersion into the world of HYT

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and interviewing a respected and accomplished person in the realm of horlogerie, Dominique Renaud, this past week. My thanks to HYT for their kind invitation for this and Omamgbe Ikpa(MD for HYT Asia), Vincent Perriard(HYT CEO & Partner) and Luiggino Torrigiani(General Manager for Dominique Renard SA) for helping out with the questions, & answers where it pertained to their areas, helping with translation in the interview with M. Renaud. As it was not a strict Q&A flow with some aspects possibly lost in translation, I will note the responses as best I can. Post getting this up, there may be edits if I unintentionally do get anything grossly wrong though :) My questions in red & bolded below and answers in Black... & let's take it away! 

1. Before you set out and began Renaud et Papi in 1986, what were you working on or were your main focuses at AP? 

I was a watchmaker in the Specialty Watch workshop. I learnt on the job on traditional watchmaking techniques under senior watchmakers at Audemars Piguet. I was also interested in expanding on new techniques in watchmaking and was involved in the introduction of more use of machines in the watchmaking at AP. 

I was involved in all aspects of watch making, from hand finishing squelette(skeleton) movements to making parts of the watch by hand but was not in the R&D side. It was during this time that I had met and got to know Giulio Papi well and we would spend time, after work hours, dreaming of doing more and doing it differently. We had ideas on introducing innovation and new creations in watchmaking and we wanted to get to do it sooner rather than later and so we set out with Renaud et Papi in 1986. 

Renaud and Papi several moons ago

2. What are some of the most exciting watches you have worked on at Renaud et Papi? 

One of the most exciting watches we worked on was for our very first commission, which was from Gunter Blumlein for IWC. It was to build ultra-modern very original, highly complex, modular minute repeater for the IWC Grande Complication. We introduced new modelling techniques and computers and new ways in the creation of this new complication. 

say it with me now 'Il Destriero Scafusia'

Raphael's note: Another notable piece was for A. Lange & Söhne the Fusee Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite”, one of the first four
 Lange creations presented to the public in Dresden in October 1994. It features a chain and fusée tourbillon movement which also has
 stepped planetary gearing and a lateral lever escapement with one-minute tourbillon regulator. 
Note the chain visible at the top

3. The last 10+ years has seen so many brands overuse the word innovation in what that they have come out with, what to your mind has been truly innovative?

HYT is a fantastic example something that is truly innovative and is one of the reasons I wanted to come back, to work on something original and progressive as this. It is breaking the traditional codes of watchmaking for telling the time and is something that might be 'shocking' for traditional watchmakers. It is expanding on horlogerie, finding different ways of representing the watch's functions and is an exciting way forward. 

4. What do you see as the major challenges for HYT use of fluids in their watches and how do you think these can be overcome in the longer term?

Omamgbe helped in this response:

i. There were initial challenges with the use of fluids that were discovered even as we were in production of the first pieces, the main one being with temperature. 

ii. The temperature challenge was overcome with the an introduction of a thermal compensator for the temperature changes and we have since mastered the use of fluids in our current timepieces. 

iii. Now we look to build on our strong foundation and knowledge and expand by looking at what else we can bring into the watches. Dominique's focus is on finding ways of harnessing and utilising the power to bring new functionalities and complications into the watches.

5. So is the intention to have other complications, other indicators on the dial represented by fluid indicators? [Question to and answer from Vincent Perriard CEO of HYT Watches]

Vincent: We believe we have done only a third of the potential of what we have in mind to accomplish. We are investing a lot of time and money with people, including Dominique joining the HYT crew, to develop and work on the R&D as we have a program of 5 years.

Some of the inventions in the pipeline are revolutionary in the industry and could be of interest to other participants in the industry beyond HYT and even change the way watches are created. 

2 years ago we were 3 people in the company and today we are 37. We are growing quickly because of the level of know-how we need to internalise, a lot of IPs, a lot of 'secret' things that we can't put outside of the company. 

Our idea is definitely to bring more complications inside the HYT watch. Tomorrow, and this tomorrow is not too far away, is not just 2 pistons but 4 or 6 pistons, to power dates, moonphases and other complications. 

Raphael: That sounds very ambitious.

Vincent: It is, but we are, it doesn't mean we will be successful everytime but at least we have the vision and we are going for it! 

Dominique and Vincent supporting and taking HYT to exciting new heights!


6. [ To Dominique ] There is a lot that you are looking to achieve with HYT but is there anything else you are hoping to do in your return, perhaps with Dominique Renaud SA? 

I am interested in looking at new escapements and looking at reinventing the base components of the mechanical watch from the escapement, to the power reserve, to transmission... 

What are your thoughts of new escapements that have come up then? 

One of the most interesting escapements that have come up in recent years is the Audemars Piguet escapement in the ChronAP that was designed by Giulio Papi.

[Some information on this amazing watch: ChronAP is powered by the in-house Calibre 2908. An escapement LINK that runs lubricant-free and ensures excellent efficiency and superior shock-resistance. A balance that oscillates twice as fast as normal with a frequency of 43,200 vibrations per hour (6 hz) for enhanced precision. All this in a three-dimensional platinum case, designed to highlight finishing and movement decoration inspired by the grand watchmaking tradition. The style was inspired by the spirit of the marine chronometres typical of the 1980s, while applying a three-dimensional design to the watch face.]

At the session I met Giulio in the past, he also shared on the movement having better energy, with no lubrication,
 impulse in one direction and higher frequency which leads to better accuracy

Also of note are the interesting new works by Vaucher and Parmigiani the Genequand escapement LINK and an interesting paper by Professor Simon Henein on the IsoSpring escapement LINK1 and LINK2

7. Who are the watchmakers who have inspired you? 

Giulio Papi. He is a close friend and partner and we continue to meet regularly and continue to inspire each other. 

Giulio Papi is definitely a Horological Great in our time LINK

8. Why did you decide to leave Renaud et Papi in 2000 and was there anything you had wanted to accomplish in coming back?

There is a french expression 'time to take some air'... I left Renaud et Papi as I wanted the freedom, the space and the time to do things that I had wanted to at my own pace. As R&P was working on pieces commissioned by others, I had wanted to spend time on projects of my own and develop on my own ideas. I had kept busy as well, building and selling off 2 houses in that time and did some consulting work.

From a timing standpoint, my daughters were growing up at that point and I had wanted to spend more time with family too and with them grown up and more independent now in their 20s, it was an opportune time to come back as well, also as there was something interesting to work on with HYT

This return with Dominique Renaud SA will also allow me to realise my own ideas, inventions and approaches with my own brand, in looking at reinventing the basics of the traditional mechanical watch, building on my background and foundation and look to expand it to new and exciting horizons. 

Note: Dominique's work with HYT is mutually beneficial as they provide assistance in marketing and media promotion for Dominique Renaud SA & with that we concluded the interview.

Dominique Renaud - The Success Story [ Time-Line ]
  • 1977: Graduate of National Watchmaking School of Besançon/L'école nationale d'horlogerie de Besançon (Top of the class)
  • 1980-1986: AUDEMARS PIGUET, movement workshop
  • 1986: Co-founder with G. Papi of RENAUD ET PAPI SA
  • 1989: Co-Founder with C. Claret of RENAUD PAPI CLARET (RPC SA) known today as Manufacture Claret SA in Locle (Switzerland)
  • 1992: AUDEMARS PIGUET invests in Renaud et Papi SA which is renamed AUDEMARS PIGUET (RENAUD et PAPI) SA
  • From 2000: Dominique leaves the company and sells all his remaining shares to AUDEMARS PIGUET. He starts his own personal innovative projects and ideas linked to the fundaments of watchmaking
  • 2013: Co-founder with Luiggino Torrigiani of DOMINIQUE RENAUD SA in Eysins (VD) with the objective of conceptualising (R&D), producing and commercialising innovative time pieces: A Swiss Watch Innovation Lab developing break through innovations, original ideas and highly complex movements linked to the very heart of the watch.


After that most interesting interview, i was just browsing around and happened to chance on a beautiful lady
 with some fine HYT watches with her ;) Thanks Carla for sharing on the Skulls! [Sales Manager Carla Rosell
preparing to educate me on fluids in watches]
The Skull, HYT watches new creation breaks all the rules! A provocative and bold design supported
 by the fluid mechanics that have become the brand’s signature style. 
which do you prefer, the green or the red?  It does away with the minutes and the time is estimated 
based on where the fluid is eg. Halfway between 3 and 4 is 330 #retrograde fluid hours

One of the challenges with this creation was the skull shape of the tube, which measures less than one millimetre in diameter. The issue centred on the capillary’s four angles, two of which are almost 90° at the base. These curves meant that bending the glass was a particularly delicate task. 

Right eye indicates #powerreserve the eye darkens as the piece nears the end of its 65 hours pr. The left eye is a continuously rotating seconds dial. It comes in a new 51*17.9mm case without a crown protector with lateral inserts that provide potential for future extendability. Comes in 2 very limited versions. 

50 of the DLC titanium with green fluid version (Retail $127k)
tinted sapphire on the back

And 25 pieces of the 5N rose gold and black DLC titanium featuring red fluid version(Retail $141k)
The first pieces will be available from May 2015


& a wristshot to end off... different ways of representing time! one does away with the seconds
indication and the other uses fluids and does away with the minutes indication :) 

signing off for now, hope you enjoyed the read and thanks again to the great crew at HYT for this! cheers, raph.


Anonymous said...

Great interview and article!

Brother Anonymous

raphael too said...

thanks bro anonymous! :)

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