MB&F - Horological Machine No4 Final Edition
Luc Virginius / Chronopassion
MB&F - Horological Machine No4 Final Edition

Horological Machine No4 Final Edition

MB&F

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See other pictures Luc Virginius / Chronopassion

HM4 Final Edition: Easy to see, virtually impossible to catch ! Stealth

If you look at any plane or boat designed with stealth in mind, they usually look to all intents and purposes anything but inconspicuous. And the stealthier they are, the more strikingly – radar excepted – obvious they are.

Lockheed’s sensational F-117 Nighthawk was the world’s first operational stealth aircraft. While visually unmistakable, the F-117’s flat, faceted panels reflected radar away from detection and its dark surfaces blended seamlessly with the night sky. The Nighthawk was also revolutionary in the fact that its structure was a mix of aluminium and titanium. Like the iconic F-117, HM4 Final Edition features square angular panels, dark surfaces and high-tech titanium. It looks fast. It looks menacing. And to date there have been no reports of a Final Edition being picked up by radar, so that’s the ‘stealth’ box ticked as well. The aviation-inspired case and engine of Horological Machine No. 4 – first launched in 2010 – are one. This 2013 'Final Edition' case blends high-tech titanium for its lightweight and strength with a sapphire centre section offering a view into the engine. Black PVD provides the titanium with its shadowy cloak of concealment without blocking the light playing off the contrasting matte and highly polished surfaces.

The HM4 engine is the culmination of three long years of development. Each of the 300-plus components – including the regulator and even the screws – was developed specifically for this anarchistic calibre. Horizontally configured dual mainspring barrels drive two vertical gear trains, transferring power to the twin pods indicating hours/minutes and power reserve. But describing HM4's engine through its mechanical functionality is like describing Renoir's work through the chemical composition of his paint. Only careful contemplation enables full appreciation, and the sapphire case section and display panels top and bottom allow full access to the flawless fine finishing of HM4's intricate and vibrant micro-mechanics. The sleek aerodynamic form of HM4 has its roots in Maximilian Büsser's childhood passion for assembling model plane kits, though none looked remotely as futuristic as these.

The striking transparent sapphire section of the case requires over 185 hours of machining and polishing to transform an opaque solid block of crystal into a complex, exquisitely curved panel allowing the light to come in and the beauty of the HM4 engine to stand out. Every component and form has a technical purpose; nothing is superfluous and every line and curve is in poetic harmony. Articulated lugs ensure supreme comfort. Highly legible time is a fringe benefit. HM4 Final Edition is an elusive limited edition of just eight pieces. It closes the book on the HM4 series, which was limited to only 100 movements over all models. Horological Machine No4 Final Edition Inspiration and Realisation A long childhood passion for assembling model aircraft had Maximilian Büsser's walls, cupboards and ceiling covered in small aircraft of every description. Planes were what he saw last thing at night and then again first thing each morning. Many boys sketch supercars and fast planes, but few have the drive and determination to make their dreams come true. Büsser created MB&F to do just that. HM4 was born of the child's fantasy and the man's tenacity. Engine HM4's engine was entirely designed and developed by MB&F over three years of intensive work. Each of the 311 components was developed specifically; no off-the-shelf components could be used due to the extreme nature of its architecture.

Two mainspring barrels connected in parallel provide 72 hours of energy and they transfer their power to the dual jet-turbine-like indication pods via vertical gear trains. Visible through a shaped sapphire display panel on the top of the case, a distinctive streamlined cock supports the balance, its centre cut away to reveal as much of the oscillating wheel as possible and validating the "kinetic" in MB&F's "kinetic art". A work of art rewards when viewed from different angles and Horological Machine No4 is no exception. Turning the machine over reveals a panorama of meticulously finished micro-engineering through the sapphire sections. In a playful trompe l'oeil, what at first glance appears to be a micro-rotor in the form of MB&F's iconic battle-axe is actually a bridge. Indications For a timepiece not developed specifically to tell the time, HM4 performs that role superbly. In fact, with its highly legible dials perpendicular to the wearer's wrist, Horological Machine No4 might be described as the perfect pilot's or driver's watch. On the left pod, the power reserve is clearly indicated by a skeletonised hand echoing MB&F's battle-axe motif. On the right, hours and minutes are displayed by bold, arrow-tipped Super-LumiNova filled hands. The two aviation instrument-styled instrument indications are directly controlled by their own crown: one to wind/re-fuel the tanks, the other to set the time. Case Inspired by aviation, the case of HM4 imparts speed, power, technology and refinement in equal measure. Visually, the case is composed of three parts: two streamlined jet-turbine-styled pods supported by a horizontal section housing the engine, which is clearly visible through transparent sapphire display panels and the central section of the case itself.

Technically there are also three main sections, which include the dials and articulated front lugs; a central section in sapphire offering unprecedented 360° access to the superbly finished engine; and an aft section tapering down to the dual crowns. More than 185 hours of intricate machining and meticulous polishing are required to turn an opaque solid block of sapphire crystal into the clear, light-filled atrium of the central case section, which reveals part of the HM4 engine and engineering details. The contrasts of matte with highly polished surfaces under the black PVD, stealthy straight lines with seductive curves, and rigid forms with articulated arms, sets HM4 Final Edition apart from anything visible (or not) on land, sea, or air! Horological Machine No4 Final Edition HM4 Final 

Technical specifications

Limited edition of 8 pieces in blackened titanium Engine :

 

Case :
  • Grade 5 titanium coated with black PVD
  • Dimensions: 54mm wide x 52mm long x 24mm high
Movement :
  • Three-dimensional horological engine developed 100% by MB&F Manual winding with two mainspring barrels in parallel 
  • Power reserve: 72 hours
  • Balance frequency: 21,600bph/3Hz
  • Number of components: 311
  • Number of jewels: 50
Fonctions:
  • Hours, minutes and power reserve indicator Hours and minutes on right dial, power reserve indicator on left dial Separate crowns for time setting and winding
  • Number of components: 67 Articulation of lugs : 3° Sapphire crystals: Five sapphire crystals: 2 x dials, 1 x central case section, 2 x display panels (top and bottom)
Strap : 
  • Strap & Buckle: Hand-stitched calfskin strap with titanium/white gold custom-designed folding buckle attached to articulated lugs

Who's who

“Amazing. Maximilian Büsser is definitely an amazing person.” If you ask Laurent Picciotto to go over the main points of his history with the big man at MB&F, you’ll initially be met by a long silence and a pensive look. Where to begin? What about the first meeting, when “Max” was on a work placement at Jaeger-LeCoultre? When he was head of Harry Winston Watchmakers? When he transitioned to become a designer, bringing together the greatest watchmaking talent at MB&F? These are all stages in Max Büsser’s career; yet the person who passed through them has been so different in each role that it can sometimes be difficult to see the continuity. Be that as it may, the link between the two men was indeed first forged in Paris, twenty years ago. Laurent Picciotto had opened Chronopassion three years previously, laying the foundations for a brand that was to become a benchmark, but which at that time was pretty much a complete unknown beyond a tiny number of top watchmaking connoisseurs. Meanwhile the young Maximilian Büsser had just graduated from the Lausanne Federal Polytechnic School and joined Jaeger-LeCoultre. Büsser was enamoured with watchmaking mechanics. When he was in Paris, he went to see Chronopassion in rue Saint Honoré. “He stayed over three hours,” recalls Laurent Picciotto. “He was enthusiastic and inquisitive. He asked thousands of questions – he was an unusual young man and already knew a lot more about watchmaking culture than he was letting on.” Max Büsser worked in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Marketing department for seven years. He left in 1991 to move to Harry Winston. The 5th Avenue jewellers in New York City had already made some inroads into the watchmaking world, but without any major breakthroughs. The first timepieces dated back to 1989, but had failed to find much success. Output remained tiny, as the young Max Büsser sowed the seeds of high-class watchmaking at the jewellers. He was soon promoted to the position of Managing Director of the Rare Timepieces department. That was when the paths of the two men crossed again. “I was out for a walk in Geneva,” says Laurent Picciotto, “when a man in a car stopped next to me. He was no longer the young apprentice from Jaeger, but the CEO of Harry Winston Watchmakers. I didn’t recognise him – he’d completely changed, even physically! He really had taken on the stature of CEO. It was amazing.” The two men then saw each other every year during the course of Harry Winston business. The watchmaking part of the brand, driven by Max Büsser, gradually took shape, “but I was interested only in the Opuses,” says Laurent Picciotto with a smile. A friendship developed and when Max Büsser left Harry Winston in July 2005, a new chapter in it began. “Max told me about his new project, MB&F, standing for Maximilian Büsser & Friends. I said just three words to him: ‘I’ll follow you.’ He was a little surprised, as he didn’t have any immediate plans to establish the brand in France and he hadn’t even got the slightest prototype anywhere near ready!” Picciotto’s instinct was right, though. The first Horological Machine, HM1, came into being two years later in 2007. “This timepiece is difficult to apprehend – you need to put it on your wrist and wait a good quarter of an hour before being able make up your mind,” remembers Laurent Picciotto. The next part of the adventure is better known: four HMs and an LM, standing for Legacy Machine, a piece that pays tribute to watchmaking inventors. It is more aesthetically accessible but no less technically complicated for all that. Each MB&F item is the fruit of the greatest talents in top watchmaking, in terms of both watchmaking technology itself and design: Jean-François Mojon, Kari Voutilainen, Peter Speake-Marin, Laurent Besse, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, Eric Giroud, and so on. “At the end of the day, MB&F timepieces really do need to be adopted by their owners. Max adds a touch of humour, born out of his uninhibited approach to watchmaking. It’s definitely a brand that brings a breath of fresh air to the watchmaking landscape, shaking it up to just the right degree,” concludes Laurent Picciotto.

Journaliste : Olivier Müller

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