One of the foundational ideas of MB&F has always been to have “friends” involved in the creation of new pieces. We can all recall collaborations with Alain Silberstein (on the HM1 or the LM1), with Black Badger or the participation of Kari Voutilainen in the decoration of the LM movements. Another collab that stuck in collectors’ minds was the MoonMachine. Using the HM3 as a base, Stepan Sarpaneva added its famous moon-face complication. Here we go again, as both parties join forces for round two to create the MB&F MoonMachine 2, this time based on the HM8.
Reminder – the MB&F HM8
As you can see, the new MB&F MoonMachine 2 is based on the HM8. But, before jumping into the specifications of this new watch, it’s a good idea to look back at the HM8 a.k.a the “CanAm”.
First, there’s a compelling reason behind the name HM8 that has nothing to do with logical progression. Launched just after the HM6, and prior to the HM7, the HM8 is the sum of two parts and can be viewed as a 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 was based on MB&F’s signature vertical display of the time, placed perpendicularly to the movement. A direct homage to 1970s models by Girard-Perregaux, Amida, Bulova or Mido, these pieces are often called driver’s watches because there is no need to lift your wrist from the steering wheel to read the time. This display was introduced on the HM5 and later used on the HMX. A module materialises the hours and minutes on bi-directional, overlapping discs, rotating horizontally over the movement. The hours and minutes are displayed vertically, thanks to high-tech sapphire prisms.
The case of the original HM8 was inspired by racing cars on one side (the aerodynamic “body-work” design of this piece with its rolls bars riveted to the case) and the HM3, with the inverted movement exposed under a sapphire crystal, and the rotor on top. Now that we have established the provenance of the HM8, we can discuss Mr Sarpaneva’s second collaboration on the new MB&F MoonMachine 2.
The MB&F MoonMachine 2
Same team, same inspiration, same concept, different result. The MoonMachine 2 is a complex watch, both visually and technically.
The HM8 already featured two design icons of the Horological Machine collection: the battle-axe rotor, and the heads-up time display first seen in HM5. The MoonMachine 2 adds a third one: the signature moon-face by Sarpaneva. It might sound like a lot of features… and indeed, there’s a lot going on in this watch. Complex shapes, various textures, several layers and levels, intriguing display… Yet, all of it blends perfectly.
What has changed compared to the HM8? Well, first and foremost, the addition of a moon-phase complication. The MB&F MoonMachine 2 relies on the same mechanism used to display the time (glass prisms) to highlight the visual impact of a moon disc appearing in a space too small to fully contain it. The projection is accomplished via an optical prism, which refracts the hours, minutes and moon discs to appear as if they are perpendicular to the engine. The prism is cut to magnify the hours and minutes by 20% for greater legibility, but not for the moon-phase display, which is at risk of distortion if magnified.
The incoporation of the moon complication means that the case is 0.5mm thicker to accommodate the additional mechanism and features a pusher on the side to correct the age of the moon. The second difference between the MB&F MoonMachine 2 and the HM8 is the rotor. The battle-axe rotor has been transformed into an openworked radial web of titanium, echoing the design vocabulary of Stepan Sarpaneva. This complex pattern is also found on the superior surface of the movement, and the sapphire crystal pane framing the top of the MoonMachine 2 engine has been metallised in a similar way.
Three of the signature Sarpaneva Moon-Faces can be found on the watch: two used on the moon disc to display the age of the moon, one on top of the winding rotor. Each moon is made of gold and finished by hand. The two small moons on the moon disc measure 4.5mm in diameter and 0.35mm in thickness, while the moon placed on top of the rotor is 8.5mm wide and 0.45mm thick. The hand-finishing process is extremely delicate.
Three versions of the MB&F MoonMachine 2 will be available: one in full titanium with white gold moons and a light-blue sky; one in blackened titanium with white gold moons and a dark-blue sky; and one in red gold and titanium with red gold moons and an anthracite sky. Each will be a limited edition of 12 pieces. Prices range from CHF 88,000 (before taxes) for the titanium versions to CHF 95,000 (before taxes) for the red gold version. More details on www.mbandf.com.