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Horology picks: MB&F Horological Machine No. 9 Sapphire Vision

Horology picks: MB&F Horological Machine No. 9 Sapphire Vision

The MB&F Horological Machine No. 9 Sapphire Vision throws open a stunning movement to full viewing pleasure

MB&F Horological Machine No. 9 Sapphire Vision

Horological machines. Can you really call it by any other name? Maximilian Büsser’s HM creations are intricate revelations of mechanical artistry where telling the time is the most cursory function of that wristbound device. Truth be told: we’re more likely to consult our smartphone or the clock on the top right-hand corner of our computer screen when all we want to do is know the time of day. And so, it is with that keen realisation, that the former Harry Winston managing director who set up his own company, MB&F, in 2005 continues to approach mechanical watchmaking.

In 2018, he unveiled the Horological Machine No. 9, nicknamed the Flow. There are two completely independent balances, each of which keep time and whose energy is fed into a planetary differential (think of it as a central brain of the movement) that takes the time measurement from the two balances, averages it, consolidates it and feeds in into the vertical dial that displays the time.

There are 301 components on the movement, including the twin turbines on the reverse that in MB&F’s own words “spin freely as an element of pure visual interest” (remember, telling the time is only an ancillary function on an MB&F).

MB&F Horological Machine No. 9 Sapphire Vision
A highly limited timepiece, there are four editions of it, each limited to only five pieces

The HM9 has a movement that Büsser himself said is the “brand’s most beautiful movement to date” – a bold statement considering that there were 17 other contenders from the house of MB&F vying for that top honour.

Allowing you to view most of those components within the HM9’s movement as they spin, click and twist in enigmatic combinations, the brand unveiled this Horological Machine No. 9 Sapphire Vision last month, which uses a sapphire crystal for the case of the watch.

Creating a sapphire case is a mammoth task in itself. It’s an expensive, laborious and incredibly complex feat – just ask Hublot or Richard Mille who have some experience in using these cases (the latter watchmaker will remind you of the 45 days it takes to create a single sapphire case for a watch, which is why it only makes five or six of these each year.)

With the HM9 and the added complexity of its dramatic curves, swollen bubbles and swooping angles, a sapphire case seems like an impossible ask. But as the brand has repeatedly demonstrated with its horological machines that it began making in 2007, impossible is merely a good starting point for its design team, not a terminal one.

MB&F Horological Machine No. 9 Sapphire Vision
There are three parts to the sapphire case in the HM9 SV, sealed with a gasket and “high-tech compound bonding process”

With sapphire, make the slightest mistake when machining or polishing it, and the material will, unlike metal, almost certainly fracture and crack – necessitating the entire process of making it to begin from scratch. An agonising proposition when you consider that it takes 350 hours to machine a single case for an HM9 SV.

There are three parts to the sapphire case in the HM9 SV, sealed with a patented gasket and “high-tech compound bonding process” which is why it is water resistant up to a depth of 30m. That you wouldn’t likely dare dunk a $440,000 timepiece into anything deeper than a sink is another matter altogether.

A highly limited timepiece, there are four editions, each limited to only five pieces: two with a 18K red gold frame, combined with a either an NAC-coated black or a PVD-coated blue movement; and two editions with 18K white gold frames, which showcase a PVD-coated purple or a red gold-plated movement.

Any of the combinations are winners, and collectively they offer plenty – enough to keep us thoroughly entertained until the HM11 – the HM10 Bulldog was released last year – makes its imminent appearance.

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