One of our favorite releases at the SIHH 2016 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie is MB&F's new iteration of their Horological Machine No. 6. This time, the MB&F Horological Machine No. 6 HM6 'Space Pirate' —reviewed by us here— comes with a sapphire crystal case instead of titanium or 18K red gold and also with a new name. Ladies and gentlemen, please meet the MB&F Horological Machine No. 6 SV HM6 Sapphire. Named SV for “Sapphire Vision”, the new MB&F from SIHH 2016 adds an extra three-dimensional layer to the biomorphic beauty of the HM6 ‘Space Pirate’ by revealing the mechanical marvels of the 475 components within. The complex curves of two transparent sapphire crystal plates sandwich a precious 18K red gold 'streamliner' case band, creating two horological amphitheaters dedicated to the appreciation of exquisite, hand finished micro engineering.
The 18K rose gold case band is distinguished by the horizontal lines reminiscent of the American Greyhound “Streamliner” buses of the 1950s and 60s. The sandwich construction is punctuated and highlighted by the vividly colored stripes of the blue water resistant gaskets on top and bottom.
The case of new MB&F Horological Machine No. 6 HM6 SV is a sandwich construction of a precious metal case band between two transparent sapphire crystal plates. The case band, in either 950 platinum or 5N+ red gold, forms a protective wall around the movement and supports the articulated lugs. Horizontal lines traversing the perimeter of the case band visually break the height of the case and accentuate the movement within. The dimensions of the case are 51 mm x 50 mm x 22.7 mm.
At the front, two spherical domes rotate vertically, respectively displaying hours and minutes in large highly legible numerals. At the back, twin spherical turbines spin horizontally, driven by the rotor and multiplying gearing that automatically regulates the winding system to minimize stress and wear.
Just like on its predecessor, a central dome houses a 60-second flying tourbillon. Because high-precision regulators are especially sensitive to changes in oil viscosity and ultra violet radiation gradually breaks down lubricating oils, this is why HM6 SV Sapphire features a retractable, semi-spherical, titanium protective shield; when closed, it blocks harmful radiation from prematurely oxidizing the lubrication oils in the regulator. A crown at 9 o’clock opens and closes the cover in a blink of an eye.
The nine sapphire crystal domes —five on top dial side and four underneath on the case back side — are carefully fastened to the transparent plates thanks to a special gluing process, achieved under vacuum in a high temperature oven. This offers maximal strength and water resistance. The sapphire crystal plates on the top and bottom were particularly difficult to machine and polish due to their size and the complexity of the curves.
The production of the new SIHH 2016 MB&F HM6 SV’s 11 sapphire crystals, including two large case plates —top and bottom— and nine domes posed quite a challenge as each was machined from a solid block of sapphire crystal —the second-hardest mineral on earth after diamond. After machining each block of sapphire crystal inside and out with diamond-tipped tools, the shapes have to be highly polished, both inside and out, to make them transparent. The domes are especially ambitious, as the walls have to be of absolutely uniform thickness; otherwise the slightest inconsistency creates disconcerting optical distortions.
Just as if the top of the watch wasn't impressive enough, the back holds another great surprise with its blued battle-axe-shaped rotor. The 475 parts that compose this automatic calibre include a flying tourbillon with retractable titanium shield, iridescent blued platinum 950 battle-axe automatic winding rotor, 68 jewels and twin aluminum turbines driven by the winding rotor. The movement provides a power reserve of 72 hours when fully wound while beating at a frequency of 18,000 vph.
The watch is equipped with a hand-stitched calfskin strap with custom designed folding buckle matching the case band. The strap wears very comfortably and rounds out the look of the watch quite nicely.
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 N°6 ‘SV’ HM6 Sapphire is a limited edition of 10 pieces in platinum and 10 pieces in red gold. There will only be 100 HM6 movements made in total.
Sticker Price 350,000 Swiss Francs for red gold and 380,000 Swiss Francs for platinum. For more info on MB&F click here.