MB&F HM11 Architect: A Slow Motion Fidget Spinner for the Wrist
by Martin Green
While it has been a few years since they were at the height of their success, I occasionally still see a fidget spinner. These toys consist of a ball-bearing center with weighted arms that spin once set in motion, allowing you to experience its centrifugal force.
This is what immediately came to mind when I first saw the HM11 Architect by MB&F.
I realize that this sounds somewhat disrespectful, but if one brand is challenging the status quo within the world of watchmaking, it is MB&F. It does so by completely rearranging both the mechanics and the aesthetic of the traditional mechanical wristwatch beyond what is previously known.
As an industry, we need this, and as collectors, we also need this. It’s like a Michelin-star chef going in a new direction to awaken the senses and let the people experience something new.
The 1960s on steroids
HM11 Architect is placed on a curved frame that follows the shape of your wrist and gives MB&F the space needed to create a watch that you wind by turning the entire case clockwise. Previously, there were watches that you could wind by turning the bezel, such as the Bezel Manual Winder made by Enigma, Gianni Bulgari’s brand, but winding by rotating the entire case, that’s a different league.
Each tactile quarter turn adds 72 minutes to the power reserve. Ten complete turns power up the HM11 Architect to its maximum capacity of an impressive 96 hours.
HM11 earns its name Architect by the inspiration for its case design. It is a beautiful marriage of form and function, as its unique shape also aids the turning of the case, providing your fingers with a nice and easy grip.
Its inspiration comes from 1960s architecture, and when traveling back in time, one could imagine seeing this shape, enlarged to life-size, as a comfortable home built on a rock overseeing the Mediterranean. The dome of sapphire crystal would then be the central living quarters, with different rooms protruding from each side.
The MB&F team obviously had great fun with this design, as they ensured that each ‘room’ had a specific function. One shows the hours and minutes, another the power reserve, and the third is a mechanical thermometer.
The last ‘room’ is perhaps the most unique, as this one features the sapphire crown to set the movement, simultaneously allowing you to peek into it.
The center dome is also not without a function, as MB&F shows the splendor of HM11’s flying tourbillon, mesmerizing you with its breathtaking dance.
MB&F currently offers two versions of HM11 Architect. Both are made primarily from titanium, for obvious reasons, as this material keeps the weight down. With a diameter of 42mm and a height of 23mm HM11 Architect is not as large as you might expect, and it’s surprisingly wearable.
The difference between the models can be found in the PVD coating of the cross-section between the domes.
With one version this is finished in blue PVD, the other in pink gold PVD. Both look stunning, and MB&F shows once again that they know how to match them with the right color strap. The blue model is fitted with a white rubber strap, while a military green nicely contrasts with the red gold PVD coating featured on the other HM11 Architect.
Each version is limited to 25 pieces, and MB&F will most likely have no problem selling those to its fanbase.
Given the fact that this watch is inspired by 1960s architecture, I secretly hoped that MB&F would also move into a color palette more suitable for that era. I was thinking of a warm orange inner section matched with a corduroy strap. It might be a bit too much of a good thing, but then again, MB&F does have the tradition that after the initial run of a model, other colors will follow.
Give me time
Do I like the HM11 Architect? From a concept perspective and how the mechanics work, it is a clear yes. Visually, my classically inclined mind is gravitating firmly toward other models within the MB&F collection. In this, I am probably not alone. As MB&F is challenging the status quo, this is a normal reaction. Without a doubt, I will warm up to the HM11 Architect when I have seen and handled it a couple of times.
Rotating the case has an addictive edge, much like the fidget spinner, so the love grows with each quarter-turn. A way to win me over more quickly could be by making a gem-set version of the HM11 Architect, as I feel that with the unique shape of the case, that would be amazing.
For more information, please visit www.mbandf.com/en/machines/horological-machines/hm11
Quick Facts MB&F HM11 Architect
Case: 42 x 23 mm case in grade 5 titanium with polished and brushed surfaces and domed sapphire crystal, rotatable to wind the watch
Dial: None, stylized indicators per side window
Movement: manually wound movement with centrally placed flying tourbillon; power reserve 96 hours; 18,000 vph/2.5 Hz frequency;
Functions: hours, minutes; power reserve; temperature
Limitation: 25 pieces of Blue Edition and 25 pieces of Red Gold Edition
Price: CHF 198,000
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