Monochrome Watches
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MB&F Horological Machine 2 (HM2) – Final Editions

| By Frank Geelen | 4 min read |

When Max Busser and Friends launched the Horological Machine No2, it revolutionized the world of Haute Horlogerie. Recently the final versions of the MB&F HM2 was launched, so this spectacular watch is almost out of production.

The Horological Machine No2, or short HM2, was first released in white and red gold. Last year MB&F launched a limited version with a ceramic top case and this year the final versions have been launched. Two versions with a sapphire top case, limited to only 18 pieces each, are the last chance to own this remarkable and revolutionary timepiece.

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The distinctive rectangular shape and two portholes are so entirely different than any other timepiece. The latest and final versions feature a sapphire crystal top case, offering a view onto the beautiful hand-finished, 349-component movement powering the two dials.

Synthetic sapphire watchcases are extremely rare for good reason. While sapphire retains its strength at high temperatures, has zero porosity and does not react to acids, the very properties that make it so attractive also make it extremely difficult to mill. This requires sophisticated (and expensive) diamond tools to machine, followed by careful polishing to turn the opaque freshly cut or drilled surface transparent. The complex, three-dimensional form required for HM2-SV’s case, with its bevels, mounting holes, porthole cut-outs and embedded gasket track, pushed the limits of sapphire technology beyond what was thought possible. No less than 55 hours of milling, drilling and polishing are required just to create each sapphire case!

The sapphire top-case is virtually invisible, due to anti-reflective treatment on both sides. Something which is (again) extremely difficult because of the complex shaped sapphire crystal. Also visible is a rubber gasket offering a cool contrast and putting extra emphasis on the openness offered by the sapphire crystal. This was different on previous versions of MB&F’s Horological Machine No2, except the HM2 for the Only Watch charity auction that was designed by Sage Vaughn.

Other versions, like the HM2 Black Box, designed by famous watchmaker Alain Silberstein and limited to 8 pieces, featured a top-case with the typical portholes around both dials. Below is the Ceramic Version featuring also featuring the so typical portholes and the buttresses, that can also be found on the case back.

The HM2 engine, developed by watchmaker Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, features the world’s first mechanical automatic winding movement offering:

  • Instantaneous Jump Hour
  • Concentric Retrograde Minutes
  • Retrograde Date
  • Bi-Hemisphere Moon Phase

The principle technical challenge in developing the movement was ensuring that the jumping hour functioned both instantaneously and simultaneously when the retrograde minute flies back from 60 to 0. And not only instantaneously: without using excessive energy.  The usual method of activating Jumping Hour indications is to store energy in the minutes before the change to power the jump; however, while this energy is being accumulated it takes power from the balance causing it to loose amplitude – an effect detrimental to time-keeping precision.  Wiederrecht’s solution was as brilliant as it was simple: he designed a ingenious mechanism so that when the minutes fly back, a snail on the minute mechanism hits the hour star causing the hour to jump. The hour jumps instantaneously with the minutes because it is triggered by the minutes and, as the jump is powered by the energy of the minutes flying back, it has virtually no effect on the amplitude of the balance.

The case measures 59mm from left to right, 38mm from top to bottom and has a very reasonable thickness of 13mm. MB&F’s HM2 is of course not just a watch, it’s a conversation piece and something for the true connoisseur appreciating both innovative design and serious Haute Horlogerie. Although the HM2 is quite a big watch, it can be worn easily under a shirt, only revealing the hour and minute indicator/porthole.

A good friend wore his HM2 White Gold during Baselworld 2011 and Gerard Nijenbrinks made this wristshot, perfectly showing how the HM2 peaks from underneath his shirt’s sleeve.

Like already said, there are two versions. The HM2-Red SV (red gold) and HM2-Black SV (black PVD coated titanium) both feature the incredibly complex sapphire top case. Both versions are limited to 18 pieces.

According to Chronopassion, the price of the white gold version of HM2 is € 64,400. I assume the other versions are in the same price range.

More information can be found at the MB&F website and official Facebook page.

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