Shiver me timbers! MB&F has just reinforced its position as one of the preeminent independent brands when it comes to mechanical art, and it’s all thanks to its new Horological Machine 6 (HM6) Space Pirate. It’s unlike anything that we (and we’re sure the watch world at large) has ever seen before, it’s well finished, and brilliantly executed by the brand that laughs in the face of normalcy.
In its press material, MB&F muses about space being a hostile environment, and goes on to say that the HM6 Space Pirate has been designed to operate in the hostile environment of space, though what they’re really referring to, now, is the space on your wrist. Perhaps the brand is hinting that earning space on an enthusiast’s wrist is a challenge because of how many different watches there are on the market? In any case, given the Space Pirate’s staggering looks and execution, we don’t think it will struggle to find wrist real estate.
Capitaine Flam (Captain Future in English), a Japanese anime TV series from owner and creative director Maximilian Büsser’s childhood, served as the initial inspiration for the HM6 Space Pirate. Büsser says that Capitaine Flam had a spaceship called the Comet, and it featured two spheres joined by a connecting tube. Büsser mused about what it would be like to combine two such spaceships, which kicked into motion plans for the Space Pirate.
In terms of its looks with regards to its inspiration, we think MB&F has hit a home run. The watch (it’s so distinctive it feels weird just calling it a watch), has space-age looks, and if you take away the strap and forget that it is a watch, you could easily imagine it to be a spaceship, or even an alien. Bulging eyes are, after all, a trait that fictional aliens seemed to have in common, when they appeared in older movies and TV shows.
MB&F says the curved lines of the HM6 make it a softer, more organic Machine than its predecessors. This is due to the fact that inspiration was also drawn from the biomorphism art movement, which takes cues from design elements based on the shapes of living organisms. Studying the biomorphic case closely, it’s evident that the HM6 also borrows elements from previous MB&F creations.
The watch itself is a mechanical art lover’s dream come true. The 49.5mm case is created from aeronautic grade Ti-6AL-4V titanium metal, which is said to be stable at even scorching temperatures of 400-degrees Celsius. A titanium brace runs around the central circumference of the Horological Machine, which is said to reinforce the structure and supports the lugs. MB&F artisans also spend over 100 hours to polish and satin brush each HM6 case, so that it appears aesthetically pleasing to the owner.
One trait the HM6 Space Pirate shares with some of its predecessors is that it doesn’t really have a central point to focus on. With most watches, the focus point is the dial but with the Space Pirate, information is provided from multiple points, and there’s also tons to see with regards to the movement because of how the HM6 is set-up. Sitting right at the centre of the case, under a protective sapphire crystal dome, is a 60-second flying tourbillon, while each corner of the Horological Machine 6 terminates in a dome of its own.
Worn correctly, the individual aluminium domes that display the hours and minutes face the wearer, while the opposite side of the case features two spherical turbines that spin to regulate the winding system against over speeding (more on this later). The Space Pirate has two crowns, the right for adjusting the time, the left to control a protective shield that raises or lowers around the central tourbillon. The idea behind this is that the dome can be shut to protect the otherwise exposed lubricants from oxidising, as a result of excess UV light. That’s a cool and extremely geeky feature but that isn’t where the story ends.
The movement powering the HM6 Space Pirate took three years to develop and it’s a masterpiece. Remember the aluminium hour and minute domes we mentioned earlier? Well, those actually rotate vertically, 90-degrees to the plane of the movement, which is something that is rarely seen on wristwatches owing to how much complexity that would add to the drive train. This should give you an idea of how complex this movement really is.
Coming back to the two spherical aluminium turbines, you’ll note that each has a very definite shape – MB&F says that no fewer than 15 curved vanes comprise the structure. The turbines are driven by the rotation of the perfectly machined platinum winding rotor, through a gear train that is designed to amplify the number of rotations. As air friction within the watch increases exponentially (squared) as a function of velocity, if the rotor starts rotating too quickly owing to very active wrist movements, the air friction acting on the turbines increases, and this helps counteract the excessive speed of the rotor, and thus reduces wear on the movement. You could think of it as an air-brake.
The movement (or engine) within this timepiece offers a power reserve of 72 hours, and was developed exclusively for use in the HM6. It is the handy-work of MB&F and David Candaux Horlogerie Créative. The movement, as you can see, is unlike anything else you’ll encounter in the watch world and, as you’d expect at this level, it’s immaculately finished.
The Horological Machine 6 Space Pirate is limited to 50 pieces, and will be offered only with a titanium case and a black calfskin strap. It commands a retail price of approximately US $230,000.
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Check out the video below to get a closer look at the HM6 Space Pirate, and to learn about how it was conceived and built.