MB&F Horological Machine N°8 Unique Piece For Only Watch 2017: Seriously Whimsical
by Martin Green
Since its launch in 2005, Only Watch has been one of the most – if not the most – significant auctions in the watch world. A biennial charity auction founded by Luc Pettavino, Only Watch is organized by the Monegasque Association Against Muscular Dystrophy (MAAMD) under the patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Brands donate unique timepieces to be auctioned; the proceeds are used completely to help finance research against Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a debilitating and life-threatening genetic disorder that affects around one in 3,500 boys, including Pettavino’s own son, who died of the disease in November 2016.
MB&F is one of the 50 watch brands taking part in this year’s edition of Only Watch by Christie’s, which will be held in Geneva on November 11, 2017.
One of the things I like so much about MB&F is that it always goes all in! The boutique brand rethinks the concept and emotion of time and actually translates its often outlandish ideas into mechanical masterpieces. That goes a long way to explaining how it has amassed such a loyal group of clients (“Friends” in MB&F parlance) and why it is now one of the most-loved watch brands. MB&F doesn’t hold back – and its contribution to this year’s edition of Only Watch is no exception.
Seriously whimsical as a way of life!
The unique piece that MB&F has created for Only Watch 2017 is an intricately embellished Horological Machine N°8, which is one of many models for which MB&F holds a patent on fun yet serious. And for Only Watch 2017, MB&F elevated the fun, but not at the expense of the serious qualities of this watch.
It is very difficult to determine exactly what the main attraction of this watch is, but the unique way it displays time is surely one of its many draws.
The jump hour is in the left window, while the right window displays minutes. And kudos if you are thinking that there isn’t enough vertical space for these disks, because there isn’t. The hour and minute disks are placed horizontally on top of the movement, where the numerals are reflected 90 degrees and magnified by optical prisms to display vertically. This technology was especially popular on small desk clocks in the early twentieth century, but to use it effectively in a wristwatch is quite a challenge.
MB&F solved this with a two-way approach: first, it developed sapphire crystal prisms with an optical glass supplier that reflect the light from the disks at a 90-degree angle, while at the same time magnifying it by 20 percent to make the time displays easier to read.
For the prisms to work optimally, it is very important that enough light enters them. Otherwise, you are looking into a dark box.
MB&F tackled this in the case design of the HM8, which is inspired by Can-Am race cars, sharing their “bare-to-the-bone” design approach. Clever, because that gives MB&F the opportunity to not only install a sapphire crystal over the movement but also at the back of the prisms, effectively flooding them with light.
What is MB&F without its friends?
Another MB&F hallmark is collaboration, which also makes an appearance in this watch.
Cassandra Legendre, a 15-year old aspiring professional ballerina, was responsible for the images on the sapphire crystal movement/engine cover. The original art was drawn freehand with a felt pen, Legendre’s preferred way to create her art. The illustration is an artistic combination of elements we usually associate with childhood: depictions of UFOs, ice cream cones, rockets, and elephants can all be found upon closer inspection of what seems at first glance to be an abstract image.
Below this artistic display, we find the movement. The modified Girard-Perregaux caliber is inverted, which brings its 22-karat gold rotor right under the sapphire crystal.
For the Only Watch unique piece, MB&F coated the rotor with purple PVD, which provides a very vibrant effect as it rotates underneath the etched images on the sapphire crystal, highlighting them as it passes. MB&F even exchanged the double-screwed plate that normally features its logo for what is apparently a smiley face; to me it looks like a smiling Kermit the Frog!
Next to Legendre, MB&F also teamed up with Oliver Kuhn, who spent 120 hours creating the most exquisite, miniature elephant in white gold. This figure was inspired by the one in Legendre’s drawings and occupies the space between the jumping hour and minute disks. It shows MB&F’s painstaking attention to detail as well as a sense of humor!
With all these changes to the original Horological Machine N°8, MB&F not only makes a meaningful connection to the purpose of this unique auction, but creates also one of the most desirable versions of this watch in the process.
For more information, please visit www.onlywatch.com/the-watches/MBandF and/or www.mbandf.com/en/machines/performance-art/hm8-only-watch.
Quick Facts MB&F Horological Machine N°8 unique piece for Only Watch 2017
Case: 49 x 51.5 x 19 mm, white gold and titanium, featuring art on sapphire crystal by Cassandra Legendre
Dial: bi-directional jumping hours and minutes displayed by two optical prisms that reflect and magnify to maximize legibility; white gold elephant micro sculpture between the displays
Movement: three-dimensional automatic “engine” conceived and developed by MB&F using a Girard-Perregaux base caliber; winding rotor in 22-karat gold with purple PVD; 42-hour power reserve; frequency of 28,800 vph / 4 Hz
Functions: jump hours, minutes
Limitation: one unique piece
Estimate: €73,000 – €91,000 / $83,000 – $103,000 / 80,000 – 100,000 Swiss francs
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Also published on Medium.