Straight from the wild mind of Max Büsser, MB&F has created yet another fascinating Horological Machine inspired by the automotive industry, a revamp in fact of the brand’s previous automotive-inspired HM8 – now the HM8 Mark 2. And just like a great car, even sitting still, the watch looks fast.
Büsser had always dreamed of being a car designer, and while his path went elsewhere, he’s drawn on iconic car design for a number of watches in the past. The HM5 has slats that open and close and evoke the futuristic Bertone Lamborghini Miura with its louvers on the rear window. The HMX drew inspiration from the Touring Superleggera. Then there was the HM8 “Can-Am.” Well the new MB&F HM8 Mark 2 uses the same movement as the original HM8 with a Girard-Perregaux base but with a design language that is much more modern, calling on one of the fastest cars on the planet: the Porsche 918 Spyder.
Instead of the Can-Am inspired chrome “roll bars” and white gold or rose gold case of the MB&F HM8 Mark 2 , the case has been reimagined in a new material developed for MB&F called CarbonMacrolon, a composite material composed of a polymer matrix injected with carbon nanotubes. The material can be colored, polished, bead-blasted, lacquered, satin-finished, and still weigh 1/8th the weight of steel.
Showing off the HM8 Mark 2 “engine” required a lot of work. MB&F says that creating this double-domed sapphire to match the case is 30 to 40 times more expensive than a dome sapphire and the process has a high risk of failure, especially right at the end of its construction. But once it’s done, the sapphire is apparently as durable as any other. The 22k gold “battle axe” rotor is also so thin it has to be stamped (engravings included). The display is what you’ve come to know – an old-style speedometer but using jumping hour and trailing minutes show with a prism on the side of the case.
Then there’s the new “double de-clutch” system on the crown. The crown is pushed in and turned three-quarters of the way around to release it for use. The watch comes in two colors – white and British racing green – with contrasting straps. Each is $78,000 but the green model is limited to 33 pieces.
I think if you love MB&F HM8 Mark 2 you almost always fall into one of two camps: you’re an Legacy Machine person or a Horological Machine person. While the LM’s are big, with their domed crystals dominating the wrist, they at least felt a bit more legible and close to my personal “home” and love of traditional watchmaking.
Meanwhile, I’ve always thought of MB&F’s Horological Machines as often pretty steam-punky-looking takes on avant-garde horological design. Some veer more alien (like the HM7) or animal (like the HM10 “Bulldog”) but for all the talk of futuristic design, two have stood out from the rest for me. Both the HM5 and HMX fit in the “automotive” framework that MB&F was going for with the watches but they felt more sleek and modern than the HM8 ever did. And while the HM5 was tough and burly, touching on my childhood love of Can-Am cars, the HMX felt more sleek and modern. If neither previous watch sang for me, this MB&F HM8 Mark 2 watch is belting out the hits.
The way that Büsser and his team have instantly evoked the shape of a Porsche 918 Spyder is phenomenal and makes it a winner for me. As the team took away the cloth covering the watch, I immediately could see the iconic twin rear exhausts of the 918 sitting behind the roll bar as two “humps” behind the driver and passenger seat, except this time the sapphire crystal reveals the Girard-Perregaux base movement that powers the jumping hour and trailing minutes module developed in-house.
That design and the choice of the CarbonMacrolon material brings the watch, like the car, into the 21st Century. Just like the HM5, the watch has an independent water-resistant chassis with “body panels” added on. The watch is incredibly light, and fantastically sporty (unsurprisingly) and the mix of colors between the CarbonMacrolon case, strap, movement, and rotor make this one of the most “traditionally” modern watches and potentially easily wearable MB&F releases. In fact, it might be the wearability that could be one of the biggest selling points for the watch.
If you look past the obvious, there are plenty of other things to appreciate, largely in the creative technical decisions we’ve come to appreciate from MB&F. The sapphire above the movement, for instance, barely warrants a second thought when you look at it but the press materials spend a lot of time going into how hard it is to create a sapphire with a shape to evoke the Zagato double bubble. I never thought much about the prisms either, but now that I like the watch that much more, I can’t get over the ingenuity. For those that don’t know, the prisms on an MB&F HM8 Mark 2 (or HM5, HM8, or HMX) refract the flat disks (running on the plane of the movement) 90º so that they can be viewed when your wrist is held sideways – like on a car steering wheel. Yes, that it’s a driver’s watch is obvious, but I never thought about how simple of a solution that is, while still saving space and height on the watch. The only killer (beside the price tag being outside my budget) is that my favorite color – the British Racing Green – is limited to 33 pieces. So if some day I ever save up the money for an HM8 Mark 2, they’ll all be long gone faster than a 918 Spyder can go 0-60mph.