Embedded in the DNA of MB&F is an abiding affection for automobiles. The journey began with the HM5, launched in 2012, followed by the HMX in 2015 and the HM8 in 2016. Each model is characterized by a distinctive speedometer-like display on the side of the casing, evoking the innovative and daring design of the 1970s. Celebrating a decade since the inception of these automotive-inspired Machines, the HM8 Mark 2 is the most technologically advanced iteration to date. To fully comprehend MB&F’s automotive affinity, let’s travel back in time to 1985.
As children, we harbour dreams. Some manifest, others fade, while some are so intrinsic that they occur irrespective of us. This encapsulates Maximilian Büsser, MB&F’s Founder, whose boyhood was consumed by dreams of car designing. Cars dominated his imagination from age 4 to 18, his interest unwavering even as peers discovered new passions.
On the brink of high school graduation, he learned about the ArtCenter College of Design from Pasadena, opening a campus in Europe, specifically in La Tour-de-Peilz, a short distance from his childhood home. An auspicious sign, perhaps? The astronomical school fees, amounting to CHF 50,000, doused his excitement. Despite his parents’ readiness to finance, Büsser, acutely aware of the financial burden, opted for the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), where he pursued engineering.
“I somehow found myself in the watchmaking industry,” he recalls with a grin, “So the opportunity to incorporate car design into a timepiece was monumental. It encapsulated all my dreams.” Büsser took inspiration from an audacious design by Amida, the Amida Digitrend, introduced in 1976, right before the company’s bankruptcy. The MB&F model utilized a sapphire prism, enabling the jumping hours and sweeping minutes to be displayed vertically. The time was showcased in a window reminiscent of a vintage speedometer on the front of the case, designed for visibility while driving.
The vision didn’t stop there; the mission was to give the numerals an almost digital or electronic look. This was accomplished using sapphire disks, coated with black metallization, leaving the numerals clear. Super-LumiNova was applied under the sapphire disc for a flat, not bulbous, luminescence. The numerals were designed in reverse, as they would be inverted in the prism.
The HM5 incorporated opening and closing slats, which permitted light into the movement to energize the luminescence. This feature was inspired by Marcello Gandini’s design for the Bertone Lamborghini Miura. Subsequent models dropped these slats, the HMX offering a partial view of the engine beneath through a sapphire crystal cover. Another Italian coachbuilder, Touring Superleggera, inspired this design.
The HM8 ‘Can-Am’ offered a view of the spinning rotor through a sapphire crystal, using a Girard-Perregaux calibre base. Its design was influenced by the unique Can-Am cars from the Canadian American Racing Championship. The car’s unique roll bars inspired the watch’s titanium roll bars. The HM8 Mark 2 derives inspiration from sources such as the iconic Porsche 918 Spyder and the Zagato double bubble.
The construction of these timepieces mirrors the automobile world. For example, the HM5 and HM8 Mark 2 models are built from an independent water-resistant chassis, with the watch’s body panels added later. In contrast, the HMX and HM8 favour a monobloc construction. The HM8 Mark 2 comes in white or British racing green CarbonMacrolon, a polymer matrix injected with carbon nanotubes. This composite material adds strength and rigidity, and boasts superior tensile strength, and stiffness than traditional carbon fibre reinforcing. It weighs eight times less than steel and can be coloured, polished, bead-blasted, lacquered, and satin-finished.
The complexity of the titanium chassis and CarbonMacrolon body panels of the HM8 Mark 2 challenges the capabilities of MB&F’s technicians. The timepiece also continues MB&F’s tradition of pushing boundaries in sapphire crystal production. The double-curved sapphire on the HM8 Mark 2 reaches a complexity that is 30 to 40 times more expensive than a dome sapphire. The HM8 Mark 2 also features a highly complex battle axe rotor. One of the 22-carat gold blades is a mere two-tenths of a millimetre thick, requiring stamping instead of machining.
Another notable feature is a novel type of crown with a “double de-clutch” system. It provides additional space and enhanced system security, adding value to a sports watch. The HM8 Mark 2 culminates over a decade of MB&F’s automotive series, presenting a more technical, legible, and appealing watch. It serves as a reminder that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.