Geneva, 27th September 2016
MB&F founder, Maximilian Büsser describes Horological Machine N°8: “I feel that this is one of the coolest pieces I’ve ever created.”
The Canadian-American Challenge Cup (Can-Am) was an SCCA/CASC sports car racing series from 1966 – 1974 and 1977 – 1987, initially sponsored by ‘Johnson Wax’. Can-Am cars were among the first race cars to use wings, effective turbocharging, ground-effect aerodynamics, and aerospace materials like titanium. HM8 celebrates the spirit of Can-Am racing.
The new HM8 ‘Can-Am’ watch is a derivation of the mathematical equation: HM8 = 5 + 3
The preceeding watch HM5 (and HMK) was also a driver’s watch evoking childhood memories of fast supercars and motor racing. That provides the ‘5’ in the equation. One of those memories is the legendary ‘Can-Am’ racing championship with no holds barred and no limits, from 50 years ago. Those were the days of open top McLaren, Chaparral, Lola or Porsche cars with exposed engines and roll-bars from the late 1960s and 1970s.
The ‘3’ is because HM8 incorporates another hero: our friend (and saviour of the Universe) Grendizer, the famous Japanese TV anime character. Grendizer’s mighty double battle-axe has appeared in MB&F Horological Machines from the beginning. The most visible iteration was in HM3 watch as an oversized winding rotor seen on the dial side of the watch. In the new HM8, the battle-axe rotor is back but between the Can-Am roll bars.
As a driver’s watch, the time display is angled towards the driver whilst his hands are on the steering wheel. The HM8 automatic movement drives a jumping hours and vertical scrolling minutes display. The bi-directional jumping hours and “sweeping” minutes display are effected by optical-grade sapphire crystal prisms.
The most visual design motif are the sweeping polished ‘roll-bars’ that form the cage of the watch. They are milled from solid blocks of grade 5 titanium and then hand-polished to gleam like tubular mirrors. HM8’s Engine can be seen under a nearly invisible sapphire crystal engine cover that has been glare-proofed. The open-work of the blued-gold battle-axe rotor allows appreciation of the circular wave finish on the movement.
By Day, the generous use of sapphire crystal allows visual access to the movement while its transparency backlights the time displays. Incoming light also charges the Super-LumiNova numerals on the hour and minute discs for legibility at Night.
There are two versions combining grade 5 titanium with either 18K red or white gold.
The techno-geeks may be thrilled to know that the roll bars are in grade 5 titanium, milled from a solid block of titanium Ti-6Al-4V. This is a blend of pure titanium with 6% aluminium and 4% vanadium with trace amounts of iron and oxygen. The Ti-6Al-4V alloy is significantly stronger than commercially pure titanium and boasts an excellent combination of lightness, strength, and resistance to corrosion.
Physics-geeks will get excited about the reflective sapphire crystal prisms that reflect light from the time discs so the reflected ray is at 90° from the incident ray and at the same time also magnify the image by 20% to maximise legibility. The time discs rotate horizontally on top of the movement but the time indications are displayed vertically in a ‘dashboard’ at the front of the case.
VIDEO: HM8 Can-Am – The essence of MB&F. The spirit of Can-Am
Since 2005, MB&F produced their quirky Horological Machines series of ‘watches’. In reality, these were not wristwatches in the conventional sense and cost too much money for what they were. Their tag line is: “Machines that tell the time, rather than Machines to tell the time”. Through clever marketing and networking with “bloggers” and local dealers, they were a “success” especially in a few cities where wrist-watch cults are prevalent. Singapore, Los Angeles and New York figured prominently but then again, the InterWeb has no geographical boundaries. More traditional ‘Legacy Machines’ followed in 2011 with watches that almost looked like watches, just when it became fashionable to look back at horology heritage: Good Timing indeed.
HM8 is not a small watch by any means but at least its dimensions and relatively flat wedge shape allows for use in normal living rather than just at watch collectors’ get-togethers. The time displays work as advertised for the driver and the blue battle axe rotor is always fascinating to look at aimlessly. The case shape is unique and makes for a nice conversation piece. All the usual suspects involved with the development and production are well known in their field. What’s not to like?
“True luxury is the cost of the choice that it affords”. To this end, the MB&F must be luxury indeed.
‘Friends’ responsible for HM8 Can-Am
Concept: Maximilian Büsser / MB&F
Horological Machine design: Eric Giroud / Eric Giroud Design Studio
Technical and production management: Serge Kriknoff / MB&F
R&D: Guillaume Thévenin and Ruben Martinez / MB&F
Movement development: Guillaume Thévenin / MB&F
Base movement: Stefano Macaluso, Raphael Ackermann / Girard Perregaux
Case: Fabien Chapatte and Riccardo Pescante / Les Artisans Boitiers
Precision turning of wheels, pinions and axes: Dominique Guye / DMP horlogerie, Yves Bandi / Bandi and Jean-François Mojon / Chronode
Mainspring: Alain Pellet / Elefil
Plates and bridges: Rodrigue Baume / DAMATEC and Benjamin Signoud / AMECAP
Mystery winding rotor: Denis Villars / Cendres et Métaux and Pierre-Albert Steinmann / Positive Coating
Hand-finishing of movement components: Jacques-Adrien Rochat and Denis Garcia / C.-L. Rochat
Movement assembly: Didier Dumas, Georges Veisy, Anne Guiter, Emmanuel Maitre, Henri Porteboeuf and Thomas Imberti / MB&F
In-house machining: Alain Lemarchand / MB&F
Quality control: Cyril Fallet / MB&F
Sapphire crystals: Sebastien Sangsue and Gregory Esseric / Sebal
Metallisation of sapphire crystals: Roland Rhyner / Econorm
Discs for hours – minutes and optical prisms: Jean-Michel Pellaton and Gérard Guerne / Bloesch
Crown: Jean-Pierre Cassard / Cheval Frères
Buckle: Dominique Mainier and Bertrand Jeunet / G&F Châtelain
Bracelet: Olivier Purnot / Camille Fournet
Case: Olivier Berthon / ATS Atelier Luxe
Logistics and production: David Lamy and Isabel Ortega / MB&F
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He was also CEO of PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelog ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).