With the pandemic still dominating global headlines, we are seeing some interesting adaptations in the watch industry; notwithstanding some structural changes within the groups and the watch fair drama, one bold move, perhaps, has been the launch of the tenth Horological Machine from MB&F, which Maximilian Büsser decided to go ahead with in spite of the unprecedented situation.
Everyone is certainly adapting and exploring for new ways to account for the impact on the industry, and MB&F has seldom demonstrated the most conservative strategies. Their official e-commerce platform, which offers both novelties and certified pre-owned timepieces was proven rather successful, especially with the evolving consuming habit under global confinement.
The signature of the Horological Machine series lies on the use of futuristic concepts, occasionally inspired by the silhouette of an object or animal. From frogs to jet engines, even jellyfish, they consist of a unique design language and an approach that is easily differentiated from the brand’s Legacy Machine series. For those who do not mind a bit of heft on their wrist, they surely make some fun and attractive timepieces.
The HM10 concept, as described by Max Büsser, was a vivid image of a bulldog watch that he became fixated on during a trip to Japan. And just as the name, the idiosyncrasies of a bulldog were then elaborated into distinctive parts of the watch. Interestingly, Max says he is a dog person, and once had a golden retriever as a companion in his younger years, but he couldn’t quite figure out the root of the bulldog idea.
The balance of this watch emphasizes the lower half, as seen on the wrist, where the dial and other components are showcased. Borrowed from the Legacy Machine series, the domed crystals are fitted on both the front and the rear, with the curvature of the rear crystal being slightly shallower, for better wrist comfort. Held within is the signature exposed escapement, with the balance wheel suspended on an articulated arched bridge floating at the center, oscillating over two paper-thin hemispherical displays indicating hours and minutes, which together resemble the brain and eyes of a bulldog.
The best element is probably the “jaw” power reserve. Although it’s located on the back of the watch, it remains visible from the side when the bulldog sits on your wrist. The principle is simple: the jaw opens up when the power reserve is fully wound and will slowly close as the mainspring unwinds. The two crowns located near the top of the watch are responsible for winding and time setting, and were even designed to look like a studded dog collar, to further embrace the motif of the watch. Lastly, the four lugs (or legs, if you will) extend at an angle from the body, for better ergonomics.
In terms of the engine, the HM10 is equipped with a newly developed in-house movement, with designs referencing their previous models, some of which are quite recognisable if you have followed their timepieces over the years. First appearing on a Horological Machine, the iconic centre-suspended balance wheel can be traced back to the very first of Legacy Machine (LM1), while the hemispherical dial originated in Horological Machine no.3 (The Frog). However, the milling process used on this dial was refined to a tighter tolerance, achieving a lighter and thinner aluminium dome, minimizing its weight and thus stress on the movement. Given the three-dimensional components added on top of the movement, it has a single barrel that stores a 45 hour power reserve, with the balance wheel beating at a traditional rate of 18,000vph.
It is great to see MB&F’s development on their expression of modern watches. Especially around the Horological Machines, it shows a lot of character fused with thoughtful designs, although it is certainly not designed for classicists. But also for that particular reason, their distinct style has led them to develop a very loyal group of collectors and enthusiasts. It is also worth mentioning that Max Büsser is highly transparent in crediting his friends and anyone that contributed to the watch, which includes research and development, manufacturing, graphics, after sales and many more. It is certainly an applaudable belief and practice in the watch industry.
Regarding options and price, the HM10 comes in two metals and dial combinations: a grade 5 titanium case and lugs with blue domes, which retails at 106,000 CHF, and an 18Kred gold case with titanium lugs and black domes for 121,000 CHF at the time of writing. They are available on the MB&F e-shop, if you can’t visit your favourite dealer just yet.