EXCLUSIVE – Hands-on with the MB&F HM8 Can-Am, a new take on the driver’s watch (with Live Photos)
The MB&F Horological Machine 8 (HM8) is here. It’s become something of a ritual. With the highly-anticipated presentation of the brand’s latest creation, MB&F enthusiasts are getting their fix today. The Horological Machine 8 “Can-Am” is infused with the passion for supercars and 1970s design of Max Büsser: rev up your engines and meet the latest wristwatch from his creative Horological Lab.
Editor’s note – Why HM8…?
As you might have noticed if you are familiar with MB&F, their new watch is called the HM8 while their latest Horological Machine was the HM6 Space Pirate. So why don’t we have HM7 now? Will the 7th edition be cancelled?
First of all, no worries, HM7 will exist, but not now. It will come in 2017. The development of both the HM7 and the HM8 started at the same, about 4 years ago. Both were ready a few months ago, however, MB&F teams decided to launch just one of the 2 watches. Why launch HM8 and not HM7? This year is the 50th anniversary of Can-Am, so it makes sense to celebrate the jubilee of the inspiration behind the watch. Then, why not call this watch the HM7, just to follow the nomenclature? In fact, as you’ll see, HM8 is a sort of mix of the HM5 (for the driver’s display) and the HM3 (for the Astro-blade shaped rotor on the top of the watch). HM8 = HM3 + HM5… Simple!
The HM8 is the most recent iteration of a distinctive MB&F concept (read our retrospective about MB&F here): the lateral time display, which first appeared in the HM5, as a direct homage to watches from Girard-Perregaux, Amida, Bulova or Mido born in the 1970s – pieces often called driver’s watches, as there is no need to lift your wrist from the steering wheel to read the time. It was followed by the 10th anniversary piece, HMX, and the HMX Black Badger. This new interpretation of the concept celebrates Max Büsser’s love affair with supercars, this time through “Can-Am”, the sport car racing series, running from 1966 to 1987: an inspiration represented by the aerodynamic “body-work” design of this piece with its rolls bars riveted to the case.
The Canadian-American Challenge cup was a sport car racing series running from 1966 to 1987 that involved manufacturers such as McLaren, Porsche, Chaparral, BRM or Lola. Unlike Formula 1, the stand-alone series was of brutal simplicity, allowing unlimited engine capacity and minimal technical regulations. This “anything-goes” policy gave birth to unrestricted, outrageous racing cars and brought together the bravest of drivers. The unrestrained noise and spectacle made the series a legend…
The case design, with its roll-bars and crystals, is among the most striking new elements of the HM8. The wedge-shape of the HM5, which was inspired by streamlined-supercars, has here been transformed into something more technical and mechanical. The case is more angular and is topped by two roll bars, sweeping from the front of the machine. Protected under these roll bars, the cover of the case is made of one piece of sapphire crystal and reveals the “engine” of the watch. Part of the sapphire crystal is metallised to create a border around the movement. The roll bars are in grade 5 titanium and milled from a solid block of metal. Their almost organic shape is superbly polished, a feat as titanium is one of the hardest materials.
Through the case back, two sapphire crystals reveal bridges coming in the form of oil sumps. The front strap attachment is completely new with extension pivots which help the watch to fit on the wrist. Despite the bold and unusual dimensions (49mm x 51.5mm x 19mm), it wears quite well. With 60 components, it is highly complex and one can tell every detail is carefully thought like the fluted crown or the cool screws.
The engine of the HM8 looks familiar. Like in the HM5, the time display is digital-mechanical and consists of jumping hours and trailing minutes – with indication inversed, reflected 90° and magnified thanks to two sapphire optical prisms. The most noticeable change is that the base movement has been inverted to show MB&F emblematic battle-axe blue rotor in 22K gold on top. Like before, it is based on a Girard-Perregaux movement, 3000 series. Its finishing is top class but very traditional for such an unusual and creative watch.
A module materializes hours and minutes on bi-directional, overlapping discs, rotating horizontally over the movement. They are displayed vertically thanks to high-tech sapphire prisms. The discs are completely covered with luminescent material, the large numerals are detailed with a contour mask. The numerous sapphire crystals allow visual access to the movement, backlight the time display and charge the luminescent paint.
The MB&F HM8 Can-Am launches in 18k white gold / titanium and 18k red gold / titanium, with respectively marine blue or dark brown alligator strap and folding buckle (non-limited edition). Price for both editions is 78,000 CHF (ex. taxes).
Max Büsser and his horological think-tank have soared to become one of the most prominent, successful and creative independent watchmakers. The enthusiast (and duly earned) feedbacks from the industry and clients speak for themselves. So does the expectation the brand has managed to create about their new product releases. In this respect, the HM8 is not a revolution for MB&F. It is more an evolution.
And very often “evolution beats revolution”. As Max Büsser puts it ‘I feel that this is one of the coolest pieces I’ve ever created’. Indeed, with its bold, disruptive design, the HM8 is cool. Naturally, it is not for everyone but its sophisticated design and exposed mechanics make it a worthy continuation of MB&F driver’s watch series. Without doubt, it will find its way to the wrist of watch aficionados that love the brutal mechanical spirit of Can-Am… still, the HM5 strikes the right cord with me.
Technical specifications of the MB&F Horological Machine N°8 Can-Am
- Case: 49 mm x 51.5 mm x 19 mm – white gold titanium or pink gold titanium– sapphire crystals with anti-reflective coating– 30m water resistant
- Movement: automatic winding, Girard-Perregaux base and digital time indication module by MB&F – 42h power reserve – 28,800 vibrations/h – jumping hours and trailing minutes
- Strap: alligator with folding buckle
- Price: 78,000 CHF (ex. taxes)
thanks for sharing this incredible, hightech space age timepiece….Great respect for the wish to dare that moves MB&F design towards the extreme.
However, frankly speaking, it is not my cup of tea (I’d rather go for a Legacy Machine).
Thanks to you Andrea! Saluti.