Today, MB&F unveils the Horological Machine No. 9, nicknamed Flow. Built in two limited edition titanium versions, the horological machine, like all of MB&F’s space age, three-dimensional works of art — does not disappoint. The big question, though, is did MB&F go a bit too far in the design of Flow?
The answer is, of course, no. MB&F did not go too far at all. For those who know Max Busser as I do, you know that his dream in watchmaking is to create time as art — as a mechanical sculpture that brings his childhood love of automobiles and aviation to new heights perhaps never imagined before. As a child, Busser’s original dream was to design cars. For a host of reasons, that option did not become reality, but that didn’t stop Busser from bringing his ideas to fruition in serious visionary timepieces that are MB&F horological machines.
Given past MB&F performance, the watch world expected HM 9 to be incredibly complex, and this watch – Flow – is a deft blend of intrigue, intricate invention, multiplex complexity and top-notch Swiss craftsmanship. Did we expect any less from this young (MB&F was founded in 2005) yet highly successful independent watch brand? Taking four years from concept to fruition, and three years in R&D, HM9 is guaranteed to be a coveted collector’s piece.
While MB&F press materials state that the aerodynamic HM9 is inspired by the profiles of aircraft and automobiles of the mid-20th century, true MB&F fans will see that dramatic look, as well as a bit of a hark back to the brand’s beloved Thunderbolt machine. In fact, Flow boasts a very intriguing case shape with sharp angles, generous curves and juxtaposed conical shapes. Created in a driver-style design, with hours/minutes dial on the side of the watch, the HM9 features a large center cone with curved sapphire crystal through which one can view the planetary differential engine of the watch. On either side of the center cone are reversed shape cones with sapphire crystals revealing the twin balance wheels of the all-new in-house-made manual-wind movement.
So complex is this new case of the HM 9 that MB&F’s manufacturing partners said it could not be done. Not taking “no” for an answer, MB&F persevered, eventually creating new technology for machining and milling the ingenious and dramatic HM9. The satin- and polished finished case boasts height differentials of as much as 10mm in certain portions. Additionally, because the HM9 is so complex, MB&F had to develop a special three-dimensional gasket to ensure its water resistance. Even that patented gasket was in the development stages for a very long time.
As mentioned, the HM9 movement was three years in the development stages and was created entirely in house. The movement features a double-balance with differential, similar to the system in the Legacy Machine N0. 2. However, in HM9, the two balances are individually impulse and separated so that they beat at their own cadences of 2.hHZ each to achieve two sets of chronometric data that is then translated by the differential to produce an average steady, stable reading.
MB&F is creating two versions of the HM9, Flow, machine – both in titanium. The difference between the two is the dial and movement colors. The Air edition has a dark movement and aviator dial. The Road version has a rose-gold-plated movement and speedometer dial. Each HM9 is built in a limited edition of 33 pieces, retailing for $182,000.
MB&F HM9 Flow – Technical specs
Two launch editions of Horological Machine N°9 ‘Flow’ in grade-5 titanium, limited to 33 pieces each:
– Road edition with rose gold plated movement and speedometer-type dial;
– Air edition with darkened NAC movement and aviation-style dial.
Manual-winding in-house movement
Two fully independent balance wheels with planetary differential
Frequency: 2.5Hz (18,000bph)
Single barrel with 45-hour power reserve
301 components, 44 jewels
Hours and minutes on vertical dial display
Dimensions: 57mm x 47mm x 23mm
Water resistant to 3ATM (30m); assembled in three segments with patented three-dimensional gasket
Five sapphire crystals treated with anti-reflective coating
Strap and buckle
Hand-stitched brown calf-leather strap with custom-designed titanium folding buckle
MB&F Friends Working On HM9 Flow
Design: Eric Giroud / Through the Looking Glass
Technical and production management: Serge Kriknoff / MB&F
R&D: Guillaume Thévenin, Ruben Martinez and Simon Brette/ MB&F
Movement development: Guillaume Thévenin / MB&F
Case: Aurélien Bouchet / AB Product
Sapphire crystals: Sylvain Stoller / Novo Crystal
Anti-refection treatment for sapphire crystals: ECONORM
Precision turning of wheels, pinions and axes: Rodrigue Baume / Horlofab, Paul André tendon / BANDI, Jean-François Mojon / CHRONODE, AZUREA, ATOKALPA
Springs: Alain Pellet / Elefil Swiss
Balance wheels: ATOKALPA
Balance spring: Stefan Schwab / Schwab-Feller
Plates and bridges: Benjamin Signoud / AMECAP
Hand-finishing of movement components: Jacques-Adrien Rochat and Denis Garcia / C.-L. Rochat
Hands: Pierre Chillier, Isabelle Chillier and Marcos Zamora / Fiedler
Three-dimensional gasket: A. AUBRY
Buckle: Dominique Mainier / G&F Châtelain
Crowns: Aurélien Bouchet / AB Product
Dials (discs for hours – minutes): Hassan Chaïba and Virginie Duval / Les Ateliers d’Hermès Horlogers,
Movement assembly: Didier Dumas, Georges Veisy, Anne Guiter, Emmanuel Maitre and Henri Porteboeuf / MB&F
In-house machining: Alain Lemarchand and Jean-Baptiste Prétot / MB&F
Quality control: Cyril Fallet / MB&F
After-Sales Service: Thomas Imberti / MB&F
Strap: Olivier Purnot / Camille Fournet
Presentation box: Julien Berthon / ATS Atelier Luxe
Logistics and production: David Lamy, Isabel Ortega and Raphaël Buisine / MB&F
Additional friends contribute significantly to the marketing, communication of the brand, as well as to the photography and writing of HM9 press release and images.