We all know that Max Büsser and friends’ creations can go rather far in terms of audacity. There is nothing conventional at MB&F, especially in the Horological Machine collection. However, with the SV edition of the HM9, which stands for Sapphire Vision, it is clear that the brand has presented its most polarizing watch ever. It looks like nothing else on the market. A mix of mechanical marvels and organic shapes, this watch boasts what Max described as “the most beautiful movement we’ve created to date,” explaining his wish to encase the HM9 engine in a transparent sapphire crystal shell. The result is disruptive. This talking piece, which will surely provoke strong reactions, is back this year in two new blue or green limited editions.
The HM9 started its life in 2018 under the name Flow. Back then, its incredibly complex movement with two balances connected by a differential, equipped with two spherical turbines on the back – for no other reason than to make it even more captivating – and shaped to fit inside the case (not the opposite), was housed in a highly original yet streamlined case reminiscent of automotive and aeronautic designs of the 1940s and 1950s. Fluid, aerodynamic, yet entirely different.
The HM9 SV or Sapphire Vision came a year later, giving full credit to this marvel of an engine. Creating this outer hull of sapphire crystal and precious metal, curved and bubbled and precisely fitted together in three parts, was far from a walk in the park… Even though we often praise watchmakers for their mechanical ingenuity, the work done on the case was equally important in this context. Patented three-dimensional gaskets and a high-tech compound bonding process had to be created. And imagine the machining time required to carve these bubbly sapphire crystals. Yet, even though the HM9 SV kept alive its predecessors’ fluid, dynamic, smooth lines, the result was far from conventional. May I say it was one of the most divisive creations of the brand, generating strong opinions on both sides. But after all, it’s better to create something that makes people talk than to have a watch that is merely accepted by all.
So the HM9 SV, initially released in 4 editions, each limited to 5 pieces, is back this year. One comes in a sapphire case with an 18k yellow gold frame, combined with a PVD-coated green engine and worn on a black strap. The other has an 18k white gold frame with a PVD-coated blue engine and is worn on a brown strap.
This transparent, highly complex hull of sapphire is home to one of the most impressive movements currently in production. When you think “shaped movement”, it often refers to oval or rectangular movements. The engine inside the HM9 SV is indescribable. It follows the shape of the case in a way that no other movement can. It consists of several elements, all arranged in a three-dimensional form – something typical of MB&F. Let’s start with the basics; the movement is regulated by a pair of fully independent balances, which channel their own pace into a differential that turns two heartbeats into one coherent time-pulse. The energy comes from a large, single mainspring barrel, delivering a 45-hour power reserve.
The differential is then connected to a series of precisely shaped conical gears, transferring the average pace of the balance to the display through a 90° angle. It’s then a vertically positioned sapphire dial that indicates the hours and minutes, just like a driver’s watch. Since the movement runs at a low frequency of 3Hz, it is more sensitive to shocks than a more modern movement beating at 4 or 5Hz. For that, MB&F compensates using a shock-absorbing system in the form of helicoidal springs placed between the movement and the case. The finishing of the movement, with its plates and bridges coated in bright colours, is, as usual, impeccable and can be seen from all angles through the sapphire case.
Available now from MB&F, these two new editions of the HM9 Sapphire Vision are priced at CHF 420,000, USD 490,000 or EUR 440,000 (all prices excl. tax). For more details, please visit www.mbandf.com.