How Legends are Born: MB&F HM8 Mark 2
From affordable to downright insane designs (and prices) with such examples as Pan Europ, Seiko X Giugiaro, Monaco, Amvox, Mille Miglia, Daytona, Excalibur, MP-05 and Bugatti by Jacob&Co., the automotive-inspired and co-created wristwatches have been around since the dawn of the automobile. The gentleman driver wanted a watch to time his bolide, the race or to have a watch that went hand in hand with his pride and joy. Watches and cars have become intertwined, connected by new technologies, a passion for performance and a love for design. MB&F’s founder Maximilian Büsser is one of those people obsessed with automotive design. A childhood dream was overshadowed by the reality of everyday life, and he had to keep his wish at the stage of “only a dream”.
The harsh reality is that many of us are forced to give up our childhood or adult dreams in order to attain the means to an end – the daily struggle. But some do not give up and fight to at least achieve the next best thing.
“I lost my way, I lost my marbles, and ended up in the watchmaking industry,” Max shares with a smile. “So, when I decided to tackle car design in a timepiece, this was humungous for me. It was everything I had ever dreamed of.”
The sports automobile inspiration is clearly visible. While the MB&F HM8 features a monoblock construction, the Mark 2 is built from an independent titanium chassis to which the watch body panels are added. The “body” panels are manufactured from CarbonMacrolon® – a composite material created from a polymer matrix with injected carbon nanotubes for added strength and rigidity.
MB&F’s CarbonMacrolon® is a solid material that weighs eight times less than steel; it is hard and can be colored, polished, bead-blasted, lacquered, satin-finished… The independent’s decision to opt for white and British racing green CarbonMacrolon® is enhanced by a matte finish on the top and a high polish finish on the sides that goes exceptionally well with the automotive theme.
The case is covered by an intricately shaped sapphire crystal, also inspired by vintage racing cars, although the old and modern Zagato or the Porsche 918 Spyder are much more familiar. Underneath, the coloured rotor weight is another source of beauty.
The setting and winding are done by means of a brand-new type of crown. The inspiration also comes from the automotive world: a sort of “double de-clutch” system that works by pushing the crown in and rotating it three-quarters of a turn to release it.
The time display
The inspiration came from Amida Digitrend, a watch that was unveiled in 1976, shortly before the company went bankrupt. The time was displayed in a window resembling an old-style speedometer on the front of the case, which could be easily seen while driving, no less. Amida used side-by-side discs and had the disadvantage of relatively small digits.
MB&F HM8 Mark 2 maximizes the size and readability of the numerals by using discs that are one on top of the other. The sapphire disks were coated with a black metallization, leaving the numerals clear. Super-LumiNova® was then added underneath the sapphire disc so that the luminescence would be completely flat, not bulbous as it appears when applied on the dial. The numerals had to be created back-to-front as they got reversed in the prism.
Time reading is rather simple: jumping hours on the left indicator and sweeping minutes on the right indicator using dual reflective sapphire crystal prisms with integrated magnifying lenses. The reading angle is somewhat limited but still offers much better legibility than a classic two-hand watch – behind the wheel. Since this is a statement piece and not a chronograph, the seconds are completely left out.
Under the hood
MB&F HM8 Mark 2 uses a Girard-Perregaux base caliber (that also powered the Mark 1). The final form of the 247 components was achieved in collaboration between GP and MB&F. The automatic movement features a 42-hour power reserve regulated by a classic 4Hz escapement.
The beautiful rotor weight, visible at the top, is made of 22k red gold or 22k red gold and green CVD and had to be stamped as it is only two-tenths of a millimeter thick. The decoration and engraving were incorporated into the stamp since the blades are too thin for any other process.
The decorations are as great as always. A nice touch is the backplate of the movement which has engravings similar to the pattern on the underbody of a car – with longitudinal vents for cooling and aerodynamic stability.
A big yes for me. I found the HM8 Mark 2 to be the pinnacle of automotive design applied to a watch. The audacity to go with unusual materials and extremely difficult processes is the typical, “obvious” choice for MB&F. “What if?” is a question that remains unanswered until Max and like-minded people decide to go for it.
I am convinced that Max would have made an excellent car designer, and I am sad that he had to give up this dream but as with any light at the end of the tunnel, I am glad that the “bad luck” was turned into a fabulous watch. The watch industry has exceptionally good watch designers, but for this kind of piece the number of actors is limited. Fortunately, a shattered childhood dream has been turned into a grail for all of us to dream about…
MB&F HM8 Mark 2 Technical Specifications
- in titanium and green CarbonMacrolon® body panel limited to 33 pieces;
- in titanium and white CarbonMacrolon® body panel.
- Three-dimensional horological engine, consisting of an MB&F in-house jumping hour and trailing minutes module, powered by a Girard-Perregaux base movement.
- Mechanical movement, automatic winding
- self-winding rotor in 22K gold
- Power reserve: 42 hours
- Balance frequency: 28,800bph/4Hz.
- Number of components: 247
- Number of jewels: 30
- Bi-directional jumping hours and trailing minutes, displayed by dual reflective sapphire crystal prisms with integrated magnifying lens.
- Grade 5 titanium with green or white CarbonMacrolon®
- Dimensions: 47 x 41.5 x 19mm
- Number of components: 42
- Water resistance: 30m / 90’ / 3atm
- Sapphire crystals
- Sapphire crystals on top, front and display back treated with anti-reflective coating on both faces.
- Dual reflective sapphire crystal prisms with integrated magnifying lens.
Strap & Buckle
- Calfskin strap – white for the British green model and green for the white model, with a titanium tang buckle.