MB&F celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2015, and there is one basic fact about birthdays that is fairly safe to assume: The one celebrating usually gets the presents. However, for the most significant anniversary of its decadelong existence, MB&F turns that one basic assumption on its head. Rather than expecting to receive, the creative lab has conceived HMX —“X” as in the Roman numeral for ten— as a thank you to the friends who have supported the brand over the last 10 years. Instead of developing an ultra-complicated, ultra-expensive anniversary piece —the standard practice in the luxury watchmaking world—, MB&F has cut sales margins without sacrificing quality, offering a true Horological Machine at an unprecedented price. Paradoxically, creating such a Machine also made HMX one of the most difficult to develop as MB&F considered, tested and rejected a plethora of combinations of forms, finishes and details before being satisfied that everything was “just right”. The tag line for MB&F’s 10th anniversary is “A creative adult is a child who survived”, a reference to a child’s sense of wonder and awe that usually fades under the onslaught of the everyday realities of reaching adulthood.
As a child, MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser dreamed of becoming a car designer and his sketchbooks were full of drawings of the supercars of his imagination. The automobile-inspired HMX is proof positive that the child in Büsser survived. The new 10th anniversary MB&F HMX displays bi-directional jumping hours and trailing minutes in a very similar fashion to that of the Horological Machine No. 5 we reviewed here. Apparently simple, but it is how and where the time is displayed that makes HMX so special. Rotating discs on top of the movement feature mirror image numerals. These are reflected 90° and magnified by two sapphire crystal optical prisms that “project” the time onto the front vertical display. Light streaming through the transparent engine cover both illuminates the top of HMX’s engine and backlights the time display for high legibility.
Also visible through the sapphire crystal engine cover are supercar-inspired dual “rocker covers” on top of the movement, each featuring shiny chrome oil filler caps. These oil caps are not just pretty design elements, but are fully functional oil caps that the watchmaker unscrews to oil the jewelled bearings for the indication discs. An automatic winding mechanical movement provides HMX with power, its “fuel” topped up by the 22K gold rotor visible through the display back.
The MB&F Horological Machine X a.k.a HMX, is a limited edition of 4 different references in a 20-piece limited edition each, with a case in grade 5 titanium and stainless steel. The four different references are available in Lotus Black, British Racing Green, Ferrari Red and Bugatti Blue.
The vertical hour and minute display on HMX are derived from circular discs rotating flat on top of the movement. Each of the two discs —one for the bi-directional jumping hours, one for the minutes— is printed with mirror image numerals that are reflected and magnified by two triangular shaped optical prisms, reflecting the time onto the vertical forward facing display. A gap between the two prisms allows light to flood onto the Engine from the front as well as the top, and the light coming in from the top backlights the indications, making them even more legible. The sapphire prisms are wedge-shaped with the angles precisely calculated to ensure that light is reflected from the horizontal indications to the vertical rather than refracted —bent.
A convex lens at the front provides the magnification. Sapphire crystal is much more difficult to work to optical precision than glass and it took considerable development and meticulous care in production to create crystals that reflected and bent light without the slightest distortion. The vertical forward-facing display makes HMX an excellent driver’s watch as there is no need to lift your wrist from the steering wheel to read the display.
Sticker Price $30,000 USD. For more info on MB&F click here.
Technical Specifications of the MB&F Horological Machine X HMX
Three-dimensional horological engine, composed of a jumping hour and trailing minutes module developed in-house by MB&F, powered by a Sellita gear train. Mechanical movement, automatic winding 22K gold automatic winding rotor. Power reserve of 42 hours while vibrating at a frequency of 28,800vph, 223 components and 29 jewels.
Bi-directional jumping hours and trailing minutes, displayed by dual reflective sapphire crystal prisms with integrated magnifying lens.
Grade 5 titanium and stainless steel with detailing in Lotus black, British racing green, Bugatti blue or Ferrari red. Case measuring 46.8 x 44.3 x 20.7 mm and water resistant to 30 meters.
Sapphire crystals on top, front and display back treated with anti-reflective coating on both sides. Dual reflective sapphire crystal prisms with integrated magnifying lens.
STRAP & BUCKLE
Partially perforated calfskin strap with matching color complementary to Engine and equipped with a titanium tang buckle.