Hands-On With The Latest MB&F Horological Machine, the HM N°9 ‘Flow’
Launched in 2007 with the HM1, the Horological Machines collection from MB&F offers original and innovative time-keepers which combine the best of watchmaking tradition and daring design. With his new HM9 ‘Flow,' Max Busser delivers a new creation inspired from the aerodynamics research of the 40’s and 50’s.
Out of this world design
Is it a turbine? Is it a spaceship? Is it a jet plane? Is it a futuristic race car? It is all of that depending which way you look at it. It is an art piece; the fruit from the fertile mind of Max Busser with the help of his ‘Friends’ in order to give life to a crazy idea. As he explains, “when the first sketches were shown, our production partners all agreed: it is impossible to achieve.” The curves, the volumes, whether for the case or the sapphire glasses, are so steep that it required exploration of new production norms and techniques.
One finds inspirations from its predecessors like the HM6 Space Pirate and its sapphire domes, the HM4 Thunderbolt and its turbines, the HM8 Can-Am, and its polished arms. There is also a nod to the original Legacy Machine with the curved polished arms serving as balance bridges. This HM9 ‘Flow' is a synthesis of the aerodynamic fluidity of the 40s’ and 50s’. A time when aesthetics was the real source of design. The result is fascinating. An extreme complexity combined with a rare fluidity. The roundness of the curves generates an impressive feeling of volume enhanced by the thick sapphire glasses with a loupe effect. The grade 5 titanium case is made in one bloc and integrates milled sapphire pieces.
The vertical time display, perpendicular to the movement, necessitated the invention of an original three-dimensional gasket for water resistance which runs along the whole case and includes the dial frame. Why make it easy when you can do complicated? Max admits that one out of two cases is rejected to meet the drastic criteria required. But what a case it is!
Multiples universes on the wrist
Once the timekeeper in hand, you cannot prevent yourself from observing it from all angles. You see the Streamliner inspiration. You see the profiled fuselage of a plane. You see a space rocket or a spaceship with the two nacelles on the side. The sleek lines of a race car with a central cockpit are also noticeable. The vertical dial inserted in its jet reactor provides the final touch: an aerial measure instrument for the ‘’Air’’ version; a more Art-Deco feel for automobile counter of the ‘'Road'' version. The more you look, the deeper you dive into these universes.
HM models have a natural capacity to awaken the child within us, to make us dream and project adventurous worlds. This HM9 offers a wide array of possibilities. There is no front and back, above and below. It is a toy that unveils its secrets. It grows on you the more its complexity appears. The sensuality of its curves calls for caresses. The width and curvature of the sapphire glasses - reminiscent of water drops - emphasizes the fluidity of the design. It is beautiful. It feels soft. It is fascinating. The glass overflows over the structure enhancing further the impression of volume and the desire to touch this unique object. The sapphire suppliers went crazy to achieve the desired result. Max admits it was one of the most complex problems to solve.
An efficient engine
Managing to integrate so many references in such a small space is a real feat. To succeed, MB&F had to create a unique compact and efficient movement. It took three years of development internally. The double balance wheels with planetary differential - comparable to the Legacy Machine N°2 - is redesigned with new aesthetics.
Each has its own stainless steel mirror polished arm acting as the balance bridge. The contrast with the NAC black or matte rose gold finishing of the plate is striking. The teardrop shaped sapphire glass enable to admire this hypnotic chronometric ballet. The balances are individually impulsed and spatially separated to ensure that they beat at their own independent cadences of 2.5Hz (18,000bph) each. The central differential mechanism provides an averaged reading of the time for an optimized accuracy. In order to display the time vertically, data is transmitted to the hands through a conical wheel which can be seen at the back of the central sapphire cockpit. A single barrel offers 45 hours of power reserve to this manually wounded caliber.
Superlative finishing The elegant curves of t
The elegant curves of this time-keeper are beautifully emphasized by the large alternating widths of satin finish and slim bands of mirror polish finish. The light reflects on the case intensifying the angles and creating a movement of extraordinary fluidity. The loupe effect enables to admire the delicate finishing of the wheels, the plates, and the bridges closely. It also adds to the roundness of this horological spaceship. At the back of the fuselage, the crown is deeply fluted providing ease of use as well as an aesthetic coherence to the whole.
This new MB&F horological creation - though imposing with its 57mm x 47mm x 23mm dimensions - is surprisingly wearable thanks to the lightness of titanium and the curvaceous case. It will transport the happy owner in a world of adventure and performance. This HM N°9 ‘Flow’ embodies the codes of the family: atypical, original, full of emotions and watchmaking excellence. One great MB&F timepiece that collectors fan of the brand will surely not want to miss.
Two versions limited to 33 pieces each are available: ‘’Road’’ edition with rose gold plated movement and speedometer-type dial; ‘’Air’’ edition with darkened NAC movement and aviation-style dial.