Conceptualized by Max Büsser and designed by mastermind Eric Giroud comes the new MB&F Horological Machine No. 9 ‘Flow’. The HM9 is the result of a collaboration between Max Büsser and no less than 25 friends including names like Guillaume Thévenin who developed the movement, Camile Fournet who worked on the strap and Jean-François Mojon who collaborated on the precision turning of wheels, pinions and axes, amongst others. Inspired by the aerodynamic principles from the post-war late 40s and 50s and automotive design the new MB&F HM9 ‘Flow’ is literally a timepiece that combines the dynamic profiles of automobiles and the principles of mid-century aviation design.
Reminiscent of a jet engine, a highly complex titanium case in alternating polished and satin finishes encloses an equally complex manual winding movement, developed fully in house. Visible under elongated domes of sapphire crystal, one can appreciate two independent twin balance wheels beating at a frequency of 18,000 vph on each flank of the new Horological Machine N°9.
A third pane of sapphire crystal on the central body reveals the gearbox of the HM9 engine, a planetary differential that averages the output of both balance wheels to provide one stable reading of the time. Sitting perpendicular to the rest of the HM9 engine is the dial indicating hours and minutes, driven by conical gears that ensure precise engagement even when motion is put through a 90° planar translation.
The winding and setting crown is located on the rear of the central body, its deep fluting providing ergonomic grip as well as aesthetic coherence with the overall design. Two satin-finished air scoops are mounted alongside the pods containing the oscillating balance wheels, evoking the raised vents that allow continuous airflow to high-performance motor engines.
HM9 Flow treads the path first opened by the HM4 Thunderbolt and subsequently by the HM6 Space Pirate, utilizing a geometrically complex combination of milled sapphire crystal and grade 5 titanium case elements. However, HM9 goes beyond its predecessors, redefining what was thought to be possible in case design —illustrated for example by a patented three—dimensional gasket ensuring water resistance. The case in grade-5 titanium is conformed of 43 parts and measured 57 mm x 47 mm x 23 mm.
Powered by a calibre —composed of 301 components and 44 jewels— that is the result of three years of development, the HM9 engine was created entirely in-house with the accumulated experience that came with MB&F’s 13 years in existence and previous 14 different movements. Long-time MB&F collectors and fans will recognize the mechanical pedigree of the HM9 engine. Its double-balance with differential is descended from the similar system in Legacy Machine N°2, albeit in vastly different aesthetic form. Whereas LM2 emphasised design purity and the hallucinatory effect of its suspended oscillators, HM9 is exultant in its celebration of expressive design.
The twin balance wheels of the HM9 engine feed two sets of chronometric data to a central differential for an averaged reading. The balances are individually impulsed and spatially separated to ensure that they beat at their own independent cadences of 2.5Hz —18,000vph— each. This is important to ensure a meaningful average, just as how a statistically robust mathematical average should be derived from discrete points of information.
Two balances beating within the same movement will inevitably bring up discussions of resonance, the mechanical phenomenon that describes linked oscillators in a state of mutual harmonic excitation. As with the LM2 engine, HM9 deliberately avoids inducing the resonance effect. Its purpose in including two balance wheels is to obtain discrete sets of chronometric data that can be translated by a differential to produce one stable averaged reading. This purpose would be defeated by two balances oscillating perfectly in phase, giving the same chronometric data at every point.
HM9 further calls out the MB&F Legacy Machine collection with the curved arms anchoring its balances, their polished steel finish contrasting vividly with the movement bridges. There are two versions of the HM9 engine, one with a dark NAC coating and another in matte rose gold coating. The movement provides a power reserve of 45 hours when fully wound.
Pricing & Limitation
The new MB&F Horological Machine N°9 ‘Flow’ debuts in two titanium editions limited to 33 pieces each. Both delivered on a hand-stitched brown calf-leather strap with custom-designed titanium folding buckle. The ‘Air’ edition —first picture below— comes with a dark movement and pilot’s watch-style dial; while the ‘Road’ edition has a rose gold plated movement and a classic speedometer-style dial.
Sticker Price $182,000 USD. For more info on MB&F click here.