Talk about making an entrance. MB&F is showing the world of horology just what it can do at its first SIHH participation, with its new Horological Machine 6 Sapphire Vision (HM6 SV). While this piece may look like just an update of the HM6, it’s actually much more than that. Think about it, how many watches feature cases where the main element is sapphire crystal rather than metal?
When MB&F introduced the first HM6 back in 2014 (read our story here), it had us gasping for breath. It was an incredible piece of engineering that collectors and watch enthusiasts either loved, or found odd. We can sort of understand why this piece wasn’t to everyone’s taste – make no mistake, it is finished to perfection and is unquestionably a luxury product but it really pushed design boundaries, and was perhaps too ‘out there’ for people to grasp from a visual standpoint.
The brand then updated the HM6 Space Pirate, giving it a precious metal case (read that story here) and now, MB&F has unveiled the pièce de résistance. The case of the HM6 SV comprises a precious metal case band that is sandwiched between two transparent sapphire crystal plates. The metal case band, either platinum or MB&F’s 5N+ red gold, protects the spectacular movement sitting within the HM6, and provides support for the articulated lugs.
The presence of horizontal lines on the case band serves two purposes – first, they break up the height of the case band and second, they add a little more character to the timepiece as a whole, and actually serve to sort of frame the movement sitting within. The inspiration for the precious metal case band comes from a late Art Deco style, known as Streamline Moderne. One of the most famous uses of this style is on the iconic American Greyhound Streamliner buses seen in the 1950s and 1960s.
Sticking with the HM6 SV’s case, it’s blatantly obvious that there’s a lot of sapphire but, the interesting thing is that there are actually 11 different pieces that come together to give the timepiece this look. We already mentioned the two sapphire crystal plates earlier, and then there are nine sapphire crystal domes – five that sit on top of the watch, and four underneath. These are fastened to the two plates using a special gluing process that is achieved under a vacuum, and in a high temperature oven. MB&F says this process offers maximum strength and water resistance.
It turns out that Maximilian Büsser, MB&F’s owner and creative director, has always wanted to show-off the movement within the HM6 with a case like this, “I always thought that the most beautiful part of HM6 was its movement, and that it was a shame not to show it. But it was only recently that the technology of machining sapphire crystal allowed us to create such a complex case”.
Each HM6 SV case is said to take around two weeks to produce and, it takes about two months to produce one HM6 SV in its entirety. Beyond the high tech case, the Horological Machine 6 is similar to its predecessors in terms of design – you still have the 60-second flying tourbillion sitting at the centre of the watch (you can still hide it away using the second crown), you have two spherical domes at the front, which display the hours and minutes, and two spherical turbines in the back, which serve to automatically regulate the winding system, and protect the movement from stress and wear.
With the transparent case, the HM6’s automatic calibre can now be appreciated in full. A product of over three years of development, the movement features 475 highly finished parts, and offers a power reserve of 72-hours. The movement is exclusive to the HM6, and is the result of a collaboration between MB&F and David Candaux Horlogerie Créative.
MB&F always planned to produce only 100 HM6 movements in its production run, so it’s no surprise that the HM6 SV is going to be produced in two limited runs – 10 platinum/sapphire crystal pieces and 10 red-gold/sapphire crystal pieces. The red-gold version will retail for approximately US $370,000, while the platinum reference will cost about US $400,000.
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