MB&F’s Case For Crystal
It’s not for the faint of heart—or wallet.
MB&F is pulling out all the stops for its Horological Machine N°9 by outfitting its case in sapphire crystal for a full view of its mechanical fireworks.
The Swiss watchmaker launched the HM9 in 2018 as an homage to aerodynamic designs of Mid-Century automobiles and aircraft. And while the resulting form was unlike anything else on the watch market, founder Maximilian Büsser wisely insisted that it was the internal movement that was the real showpiece. To make that possible, the design team took the risky approach of fashioning the HM9-SV with a case crafted almost entirely from clear sapphire crystal.
Composed of three sections expertly fitted together, the hull has a metal framework forged from either red or white gold that helps secure it along with a technical compound bonding process that fuses the two materials together. A specially designed, three-dimensional rubber gasket, already in use in the original HM9, helps reinforce the timepiece’s overall water-resistance which can easily handle depths up to 30 metres. Not that you would want to take a piece of this magnitude for a dip, but the functionality is there in case you ever step over the edge of reason.
The sapphire crystal also provides exceptional hardness for a highly scratch- and shatter-resistant piece. The material is so tough, in fact, it takes 350 hours of precision machining and polishing, with diamond-tipped tools, just to form the carefully contoured elements of each component. An engine like this deserves to not only be put on display but to be protected with the most serious armour. Especially, when you consider the price tag: around $566,000 plus VAT.
An advancement of the engine of MB&F’s LM2, this version is more robust in appearance with two balances (each one housed in its own lateral pod) beating simultaneously, yet not producing a resonance effect. As a result, it attains sets of chronometric data that can be translated by a differential to produce one averaged reading. It’s a delicate balance that required years of fine-tuning the earliest iterations of the mechanism. The reverse side is just as complex with co-axials beneath each of the balances featuring free-spinning propellers for pure visual interest.
Available in four different variants––two with 18K red gold frames combined with a NAC-coated black or a PVD-coated blue engine; and two with 18K white gold frame, featuring a PVD-coated purple or a red gold plated engine––the engine at the heart of the design features a manually-wound, in-house movement with 45 hours of power reserve and 52 jewels. Only five examples of each edition are set to be produced. This timepiece is not for the faint of heart or pocket and, certainly, not built for slight wrists, but each of the 20 clients in the world who will get to wear one will, no doubt, have something unlike any of their peers.