One of the first things we learn about the natural world and the various atmospheric phenomena we observe around us is that it’s mostly some kind of illusion. Clouds aren’t big white fluffy things floating around — they’re masses of water vapour.
Moonlight doesn’t really exist, because the moon gives off no light of its own — what we perceive as moonlight is just reflected sunlight. And rainbows — those elusive shimmering ribbons of celestial colour — they are nothing more than plain old white light, fractured into its different wavelengths by the prism of airborne water droplets. They are a mirage.
The trend of multi-coloured gem-set watches, alternatively known as “rainbow” watches, has been around for a few years now; no fleeting mirage, this. In fact, it’s surprising that this trend took as long as it did to arrive. The watch is the perfect instrument for the rainbow spectrum — what better vehicle for fractured light than a machine that fractures time, a watch that divides and subdivides and gives us fractions of a second with every half-oscillation of a balance wheel? The vast majority of rainbow watches, however, use their sparkling exterior merely as aesthetic variation; their beauty is skin deep. That is, until recently, when HYT released the Soonow Instant Rainbow.
Soonow Instant Rainbow © HYT
The Soonow blends multiple concepts that HYT has previously explored — the fluidity of time, the memento mori, a post-mechanical watchmaking paradigm. The Instant Rainbow variant adds another layer of meaning, challenging our understanding of light and colour in the same way that its predecessors challenged our understanding of time. Light, colour and time — we tend to think of them in terms of discrete units (night and day; red and green) when in fact they exist on a continuum. Every HYT timepiece expresses this duality, via its fluid time display. The Soonow Instant Rainbow replicates this conceptual decoherence across an entire worldview and its implications run far beyond its original scope.
If fundamental quantities such as time and light and colour can be so drastically reframed by a wristwatch, there is not much out there that we can count on as being immutable and absolute. Question everything, is the message of the Soonow Instant Rainbow. After all, as our favourite skull-toting Shakespearean character, the infinitely angsty Hamlet, says to his closest friend, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Soonow Instant Rainbow © HYT
Even the smallest details of the HYT Soonow Instant Rainbow can turn into Matryoshka dolls of signification. The 668 coloured gems that comprise the dial of the watch run through the Red-Orange-Yellow-Green-Blue-Indigo-Violet spectrum, with Red and Violet meeting at the gaping maw of the skull. This might be unintentional, but then again, it might not. On a conventional colour wheel, the place where red and violet meet is occupied by a shade we call magenta. Fun fact: magenta isn’t real. (Like moonlight and rainbows.) Red is the slowest wavelength of visible light and violet the fastest. Magenta is a colour made up by our brains to compensate for our inability to reconcile the two extremes of the visible light spectrum. There is no magenta, just as there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — unless you want to take your chances with the golden teeth of the skull. Dig deep enough into the meaning of the HYT Soonow Instant Rainbow, and you fall into a black hole of existential questioning. Time, ironically, will no longer matter. (In a black hole, matter is no longer matter.)
The skull, as a symbol of mortality, has a grim presence in various cultures all over the world. No one likes to dwell on how it all ends. However, when juxtaposed with the rainbow, symbol of illusory beauty and ephemerality, the skull loses some of its sombre finality. After all, what is death to a rainbow? How can something end if it isn’t really there?
(Disclaimer: No psychoactive substances were consumed during the creation of this article.)