Insider: MB&F Horological Machine No. 6 HM6 Alien Nation. Hands-on with the Half a Million USD Full Sapphire Unique Piece from MB&F.

Here is the latest and greatest release by MB&F. Created in a series of only four unique pieces the new MB&F Horological Machine No. 6 HM6 Alien Nation is the first watch from this manufacture to be cased in a full sapphire case. While the MB&F HM6 Sapphire Vision —you can read our review here— was already fitted with a top and bottom fully made of sapphire crystal, it didn't have a sapphire caseband like the new HM6 Alien Nation.

While the two previous iterations of the HM6, the Space Pirate and the Sapphire Vision, were unmanned vehicles, this year, MB&F decided it was time to put someone in the captain’s seat and MB&F decided to add six white gold micro-sculptures of aliens that were individually molded and sculpted by Olivier Kuhn of Atelier-Création Kuhn. Each alien takes up to 34 hours to complete, adding up to over a month of full-time work for the HM6 engine’s crew of six. Almost invisible to the naked eye, finding the aliens strategically located throughout the movement is like playing 'Where's Wally or Where's Waldo?'.

The Alien Nation Crew

With the arms of the aliens measuring as little as 0.25 mm in diameter, with the neck not very much thicker than 0.3 mm the aliens are so minuscule that when you are able to spot them is like finding a needle in a haystack. Additionally, the captain of this horological spaceship sits on the outside as the commander in control.

The Sapphire Case

Just as if setting the aliens aboard wasn't enough of a feat, the new MB&F HM6 Alien Nation is completely transparent, formed entirely of sapphire crystal with reinforcing elements in Grade-5 titanium. To be precise, 12 separate blocks of sapphire crystal requiring up to 510 hours of machining and polishing come together perfectly to present a seamless whole. The case measures 51 mm x 50 mm x 22.7 mm and is water resistant to 30 meters.

Except for some titanium reinforcing elements, which also serve as strap attachment points, the case of Horological Machine N°6 Alien Nation is made entirely of sapphire crystal. Up until recently, sophisticated shapes such as those used in HM6 would have been impossible to achieve in sapphire crystal.

Alien Nation’s crystal-clear skin reveals the radical MB&F HM6 engine, the result of 3 years of intense development: a highly complex, totally unconventional construction of 496 finely-finished components. Topped by a 60-second flying tourbillon with retractable shield, the mechanism drives twin hour and minute domes rotating perpendicularly to the movement. Regulating turbines are coupled to the winding rotor. The interior of Alien Nation is shot through with thick bands of high-performance luminous material called AGT Ultra.

The twin domes of the hour and minute indications on the HM6 engine are machined to paper-thin dimensions, an incredibly difficult process that is possible only through the prior expertise gained by MB&F in creating Horological Machine No. 3. The domes rotate on a plane perpendicular to the rest of the movement, creating additional levels of mechanical complexity.

There will be four unique pieces of the new HM6 Alien Nation and unfortunately all are already sold out and purchased by one single watch collector that had to have them all. Differentiated by their accent lume colors in green, blue, purple and turquoise; every aspect of the HM6 engine is constructed to intersect neatly with this retro-modernist take on space travel and technology, from the sleek whirling turbines with curved fins to the cinematic flying tourbillon with its manually operable shutters.

The Movement

The signature MB&F battle-axe platinum rotor appears in two places in the HM6 engine —in single-headed form for the rotor, and double-headed for the upper tourbillon cage. With no less than 496 parts, the movement includes two sets of curved fins coming together to shield the movement from the rough and tumble of daily wear. The turbines are coupled to the winding rotor, providing sufficient air drag to slow the rotor down should its moment of inertia rise above a certain level. As a result, the self-winding system is effectively also self-regulating, which has the advantage of increasing the longevity of the movement.

This 68-jewel movement is equipped with a flying tourbillon with retractable semi-spherical titanium shield and provides a power reserve of 72 hours when fully wound while beating at a frequency of 18,000 vph.

The Ambient Glow Technology

Highlighting the extreme transparency and smooth curves of the Horological Machine No. 6 Alien Nation there is a luminous band surrounding the outline of the case in its interior. At the top of the luminosity scale are the AGT —Ambient Glow Technology— Ultra strips that run along the inner peripheral edge of the case middle. This high-tech material was first exploited in watchmaking by the designer James Thompson —aka Black Badger—; it was previously used by MB&F in the HMX Black Badger and Starfleet Machine Black Badger editions. The four unique pieces of HM6 Alien Nation each feature a different color of AGT Ultra: green, blue, purple and turquoise. Below enjoy our lume shots of the HM6 Alien Nation.

For smaller areas in which precise application is required, superluminova is used. The upper surfaces of the turbine fins, dial markings, friction wheel, the MB&F logo and the upper tourbillon cage are lined with superluminova, colored to match the corresponding hue of AGT Ultra in each piece. Even in strong light, the different pieces of HM6 Alien Nation are distinguishable from each other. The water resistance gaskets, visible at the case joints, are colored to reflect the color of the luminous material used within each piece. And at night, Horological Machine No. 6 Alien Nation comes to life with an intense glow from out of this world.

The Strap

The watch is delivered on a Camille Fournet dark grey hand-stitched alligator strap with stitches matching the gasket’s colors. The strap is equipped with a double folding buckle in titanium.

On the Wrist & Pricing

On the wrist, the watch wears simply out of this world. Opposed to what most would think, this is a watch that you can still tuck under your cuff —perhaps a little snug but it is possible—, and our live pictures are proof of that. The new MB&F Horological Machine No. 6 HM6 Alien Nation is already sold out but worth documenting here at WCL no matter what. Without a doubt this is our favorite MB&F to date.

There were 68 pieces of HM6 Space Pirate —50 in titanium and 18 in 18K red gold/titanium— and only 20 pieces of HM6 Sapphire Vision —10 each in 18K red gold and in platinum. Including the four unique pieces of the Alien Nation edition, there are currently only 92 pieces of the MB&F Horological Machine No. 6, making the HM6 considerably rare.

Sticker Price 500,000 Swiss Francs —approximately $500,000 USD. For more info on MB&F click here.