MB&F’s Horological Machine 6 Alien Nation: Space Invaders Aren‘t Coming, They’re Already Here!
MB&F’s Horological Machines rarely if ever take on shapes that naturally occur in the organic world. The highly unusual forms of these anything-but-normal timepieces often spring from the imagination of their spiritual creator and MB&F founder, Maximilian Büsser.
The sensuous case of Horological Machine 6, also known as the Space Pirate, was a standout among these metallic “oddities” with its flowing curves and bulbous domes housing the time displays.
HM6 was further enhanced – and made even better in my opinion – with the advent of the SV version, with its ultra-complicated sapphire crystal case.
“I always thought that the most beautiful part of HM6 was its movement, and that it was a shame not to show it. But it was only recently that the technology of machining sapphire crystal allowed us to create such a complex case,” Büsser explained at the time to Ian Skellern, who quoted him in It’s Transparently Brilliant! HM6 SV By MB&F.
The case shape – with four big, round, bulging eyes and an extra hump on the top among the total of 95 case components – perfectly mirrors the architecture of the purpose-built automatic caliber comprising 496 components.
HM6 looks much like a living organism, vaguely amoeba-like, no matter which way you turn it, fitting the definition of biomorphism, an art movement that began in the twentieth century encompassing artistic and design elements reminiscent of nature and organic beings. HM6’s design was so brilliant that it won a Best of the Best Red Dot award in the watch category – and justifiably so (see The 2015 Red Dot Has A New Watch Category. And The Winners Are . . .).
Which is why it probably wasn’t a stretch for Büsser to use the existing HM6 SV as his basic premise for the ultra-cool Alien Nation, a version of the curvaceous bug-like case seen in a certain Rohrschach way as a spaceship: Alien Nation is “manned” in sharp contrast to the “unmanned” biomorphic nature of the Space Pirate and SV (“Sapphire Vision”) versions, a sci-fi-like element that adds to the spaceship illusion.
And let’s just linger over that sapphire crystal case for a moment.
Even if you were wholly unfamiliar with the process of shaping synthetic sapphire crystal into a workable component for use in a luxurious wristwatch, you could certainly guess that it’s no technical picnic when you learn that sapphire crystal is the second hardest natural substance on earth after diamond.
In fact, diamond is the only thing able to cut, polish, and grind sapphire crystal in a painstaking process that sometimes takes weeks and always creates many, many broken and unusable pieces before the right one has been completed.
The result is silky smooth sapphire crystal, in this case featuring a series of unusual flowing curves. This case is unlike any other on the planet.
HM6 Alien Nation’s “stowaways”
Inside the sapphire crystal case of the HM6 Alien Nation is something you have never seen in a watch – and something you are likely to never see this again: six white gold aliens, which appear to be “crewing” the”spaceship.”
“Stowaway” is therefore not the right description for these ET-like creatures sculpted by engraver Olivier Kuhn. The little alien arms scurry about the mechanical engine’s “aft turbines,” seeming to adjust gears, hands on the controls, vigilantly peering out into space outside the “craft” with little eyes we imagine bugging out from their oversized craniums.
Kuhn has crafted six gold alien micro sculptures for each of the four editions of HM6 Alien Nation. Each of the aliens takes up to 34 hours for him to complete due to the irregularity of the unique, minute alien bodies whose slender little arms measure only 0.25 mm in diameter.
But, really, any description of all the amazing technical elements in the world pales in comparison to simply viewing this tantalizing watch with all of its luscious details.
The eye, overwhelmed by mechanical beauty, hardly knows where to look first. Viewing the entirety of the timepiece leaves the right first impression, though, and lift off occurs: an alien biomorphic distraction awaits the new owner.
I was immediately enchanted by the white gold aliens, a detail that is so loving and so outside the box that it could only come from MB&F.
But my eye was also pleased by the very cool use of Black Badger’s AGT Ultra (Ambient Glow Technology), which lines the internal circumference of the platinum case band. The gaskets are colored to match the AGT Ultra, while Super-LumiNova has been applied to the turbines, dials, friction wheel, the MB&F logo, and the tourbillon bridge’s battle axe.
Flying that engine
Even after the eye settles down after looking at everything that’s happening with this watch, it might still be a tad overwhelming to see just everything that is going on with the movement.
But it would be a shame to miss the central flying tourbillon – the first in the history of MB&F – under the extra sapphire crystal hump front and center. It is placed underneath a retractable titanium shield, adding to the spacey illusion of the piece.
Perhaps in a slightly ironic move meant to show just how rooted this 591-part timepiece is in traditional horology despite its otherworldly shape, the balance beats at a slow, vintage frequency of 2.5 Hz (18,000 vibrations per hour).
MB&F has only crafted four examples of Alien Nation, each at a price of roughly half a million (insert currency).
One lucky collector has purchased all four of them. The alien captain had better move over.
For more information, please visit www.mbandf.com/en/press/horological-machines/hm6-alien-nation.
Quick Facts MB&F HM6 Alien Nation
Case: 51 x 50 x 22.7 mm, sapphire crystal plate sandwich construction with 950 platinum reinforcing elements
Movement: automatic caliber with one-minute flying tourbillon, 2.5 Hz frequency, 72-hour power reserve, dual turbines to regulate automatic winding speed
Functions: hour and minutes on separate semi-spherical aluminum indications, retractable tourbillon cover
Limitation: 4 pieces in blue, turquoise, green, and purple
Price: €547,000 / $500,000 (excluding taxes)