The new MB&F HM6 SV Sapphire Vision isn’t your typical watch. It won’t either be a watch that appeals to a large audience. However, it’s again a superb demonstration of creativity by Max Büsser & Friends. Love it, hate it, find it strange or way too extreme, one thing is sure, you can’t denied that it again redefines the concept of watchmaking. It’s exactly what we like to see from independent watchmakers: risk taking. Even inside the Monochrome-Watches team, the MB&F HM6 SV Sapphire Vision isn’t creating a consensus. Whatever, it isn’t made for that…
The MB&F HM6 SV Sapphire Vision is part of the Horological Machines collection. While the other collection of the brand, the Legacy Machines, respects the codes of traditional watchmaking (with round cases, classical complications like a perpetual calendar and old-school finishing of the movements), the Horological Machines collection completely breaks these rules, with high creativity in mind. Just like the HM1, the HM2, the HM3 (yes, that strange frog or spaceship), the HM4 (no, it is not going to fly at a supersonic speed), the HM5 (no, there’s no exhaust pipes and no V12 in the case) or the HMX (the little baby of the collection), the HM6 is a strange UFO… Can we call it a watch? Well, it tells time… But for the rest, except that you’ll find a gear train and an escapement, it will be difficult to compare it to a Patek Calatrava.
The MB&F HM6 SV Sapphire Vision is a new visual iteration based on the previous MB&F HM6 Space Pirate. While this first edition was looking back at the 1970s and 1980s (with the cartoon ‘Captain Future‘ or Captain Flam’ – depending on where the show was broadcasted), the Sapphire Vision takes the same mechanical base, the same display and the same overall shape (as the shape is guided by the movement…) but adds another inspiration, more classical, more vintage: the “Streamliner” buses of the 1950s and ‘60s, themselves revamping some Art Deco style. Flat surfaces, long horizontal aerodynamic lines on the casebands and warmer colors are integrated in the base concept. But not only. You’ll have more: sapphire. A lot more of sapphire.
While the first MB&F HM6 (the Space Pirate) was based on a massive case, with rounded “biomorphic” shapes and looking like a cartoon spaceship, the MB&F HM6 SV Sapphire Vision is still recognizable as an HM6 but with a totally different treatment. It is based on a sandwich construction of a precious metal caseband between two transparent sapphire crystal plates. The “ring” around the movement, adorned with the “streamliner” lines, is made in 18k red gold or 950 platinum. It supports the complex articulated lugs, which help to place the watch on the wrist.
On both sides, MB&F chose to go for transparency, and not only the domes are made in glass, but the entire plates are in this material. This case in fact includes 11 complex crystals (1 flat on the top, 5 domes on the top side, 1 shaped crystal for the caseback on top on which there’s 4 other domes). All are machined from solid blocks of sapphire crystal – and considering that this is the second hardest material behind diamond, we can tell you that it ain’t easy to achieve. All are then meticulously fastened to the transparent plates thanks to a special gluing process, achieved under vacuum in a high temperature oven. The result is a seamless construction. Furthermore, some of these domes are screen-printed on the inner face. Finally, the blue ring you can see around the case is in fact the waterproof gasket, voluntarily made in a bright colour and super-visible. Clearly, this is quite a complex case.
The result is a fully transparent case, that lets the whole movement appear – a movement that is completely identical to the normal HM6. This movement has clearly nothing in common with the traditional way to built a calibre. Its shape guided by the display (two vertical domes) and the complications: a automatic winding, a tourbillon and turbines to regulate the winding system. Thus, around the central part of the movement, we can spot 4 protrusions. Two, on the front, are displaying the time, via two rotating semi-spherical aluminum domes – 1 is giving the hours and the other the minutes. It’s in fact the only indications given by the MB&F HM6 SV Sapphire Vision. The rest is pure decorum – but clearly more than interesting to look at. The two other protuberances, on the top of the watch, shaped like turbines, are regulators for the winding system. If the winding rotor starts rotating too quickly – most likely due to highly active movement of the wrist – air friction on the turbines increases and thus, the winding rotor will be slowed down, protecting the movement.
On the top of the watch, right in the middle, sits the tourbillon, which classically rotates on itself once per minutes. As in the Space Pirate, this tourbillon can be protected by a retractable semi-spherical shield enveloping the tourbillon with four overlapping, curved blades. The shield is operated by a crown on the left side of the case. This extremely complex movement had been developed and assembled in-house by MB&F, and features parts especially imagined for it. No base movement, then modified, is used here. It comprises 475 parts, all hand-finished, and boasts 72 hours of power reserve. Clearly, it is an impressive engine.
On the wrist, the previous HM6 was far from being consensual and discreet, considering its huge dimensions and the very unusual shapes. With the MB&F HM6 SV Sapphire Vision, we have quite the antonym of discretion. The addition of the stripped casabands, together with this fully transparent case and the blue gaskets, is really kind of crazy. in a certain way, it also reminds of some editions of the HM2, with a dial entirely covered with sapphire and flat casebands made in gold… A vintage re-edition? No, not really.
This Sapphire Vision is big (51mm × 50mm × 22.7mm), it’s heavy, it’s colored, it exposes its entrails and it’s sculptural. Nothing here screams compromise. On the other hand, for proper hardcore watch-lovers, the story will be different. Love it, hate it or call it genius or ugly… The point is not into pleasing a large audience but all have to admit the audacity of such a watch, both for the technical approach (for the movement or the construction of the case) as well as for the design. If you go over the first visual shock and look further, this MB&F HM6 SV Sapphire Vision (as well as certain creations from URWERK, like the recent T-Rex, or from HYT) is the definition of bold, unchained independent watchmaking. No restrictions here, just pure creativity and personal inspirations. It has a soul and something that huge brands will never be able to achieve. So, again, some of you will certainly hate it but all have to admit that it needs some guts to create such a watch. And that, we love.
The MB&F HM6 SV Sapphire Vision is a limited edition of 10 pieces in platinum/sapphire crystal and 10 pieces in red gold/sapphire crystal. Price: 350,000 Swiss Francs (ex. taxes) in red gold and 380,000 Swiss Francs (ex. taxes) in platinum. More details on www.mbandf.com.