Can We Interest You In Some Phantom Menace? Introducing the Repulsorcraft For Your Wrist, The New MB&F Horological Machine N°9 ‘Sapphire Vision’
Editor’s note: This is a Mind (stats), Body (design features) & Soul (what’s special) review of the new MB&F Horological Machine N°9 ‘Sapphire Vision’ watch. For our detailed reviews, please head to our dedicated review section here.
“Now this is podracing!”, says Anakin Skywalker cheerfully in the movie The Phantom Menace. Now this is next-level watchmaking I say, marvelling at Anakin’s Podracer™ inspired — my interpretation, not the official one — MB&F’s latest horological offering.
What is it: The new MB&F HM9-SV in a run of only 20 pieces. Four editions are being released, each limited to five pieces for 390’000 + VAT CHF
Why: Because it’s Maximilian Büsser’s b’day. Because MB&F can take sapphire and weave their magic moulding it into curves and shapes unknown
When released: January 2021 in two editions. Version A features an 18K red gold frame combined with a NAC-coated black or a PVD-coated blue engine and version B features an 18K white gold frame combined with a PVD-coated purple or a red gold plated engine.
Our favourite? The HM9 SV White Gold Purple.
Where: Available globally at their retail partners or via their eShop
Who is it for: For those select few chosen connoisseurs who can feel the force of this horological beast
How does it do: Impressive, very impressive. My gut reaction was that this was something entirely different from their previous offerings, and it was only after looking at it carefully did I realise that it was 2.0 of 2018’s Horological Machine N°9. The inclusion of sapphire as a body and the exposure of the internal organs in full glory is simply marvellous
Maximilian Büsser has described the engine inside HM9 as “the most beautiful movement we’ve created to date”.
The new MB&F Horological Machine N°9 ‘Sapphire Vision’ features a manual-winding in-house movement that showcases the two fully independent balance wheels with planetary differential. The brand describes the movement as a “three-dimensional assemblage of wheels, gears, plates and bridges (that) takes unexpected forms to inhabit the dynamic outer case, a beating union of mechanical viscera and endoskeleton in a crystalline body”.
The MB&F Horological Machine N°9 ‘Sapphire Vision’ features a new shock-absorbing system in the form of helicoidal springs placed between the movement and the case. These springs are crafted by laser from a solid tube of polished stainless steel, offering excellent elasticity and limited lateral displacement.
The timepiece offers a 30m water-resistance, not much by any standards, but given the design of the MB&F Horological Machine N°9 ‘Sapphire Vision’ and the fact that it uses sapphire crystal as its body, this is very impressive.
Sapphire is extremely challenging to machine in complex three-dimensional shapes. It took MB&F two years since the predecessor’s release to master this feat, and even then preparing the crystals for a single case of HM9-SV requires approximately 350 hours of careful machining and polishing.
The brand tells us more about this: “In order to seal the sapphire crystal exterior components into one watertight case, new solutions had to be created. A patented three-dimensional rubber gasket was already used in the original HM9 Flow to ensure water resistance when the tripartite case was bolted together. The 3-D gasket remains in HM9-SV, but the sapphire crystals are fused with the metallic frame thanks to a high-tech bonding compound, mastered via an in-house process involving a vacuum and high temperature. The result is a seal resistant to 3ATM (30m) of water pressure, despite practically invisible seams between the sapphire components and the minimalistic frame in 18K gold”.
Coming back to the movement stats, it comprises of 301 components, 52 jewels, beats at the low frequency of 2.5Hz (18’000 A/h), and boasts of a decent 45-hour power reserve. It features dual spherical turbines under the movement, a single barrel for the above power-reserve, and shock-absorbing helicoidal springs linking the movement to the case. The movement helps showcase the hours and minutes on a vertical dial display.
The design of the new MB&F Horological Machine N°9 ‘Sapphire Vision’ in my books harks to the designs of the Podracers used in the Star Wars movie, The Phantom Menace.
One of the main reasons for seeing this similarity is the use of twin turbines or the two fully independent cantilevered balance wheels that channel data into a differential that turns two heartbeats into one coherent time-pulse. Each balance wheel is located in its own lateral pod. The entire wrist contraption is encased inside a rather large dimensioned body reading 57mm x 47mm x 23mm.
But just like The Phantom Menace’s Repulsorcrafts where Anakin as the driver was the heart of the podracer, the real driver here “is the central planetary differential, performing the delicate task of averaging two distinct heartbeats into one coherent time-pulse”. This pulse is delivered via conical gears to the vertical time display on a sapphire crystal dial, thankfully marked with Super-LumiNova for better legibility on a wrist device where time readability can be questioned (but given I haven’t seen these bad boys in person, I can’t say that for sure).
The new MB&F Horological Machine N°9 ‘Sapphire Vision’ comes on a hand-stitched brown or black alligator strap with red or white gold folding buckle matching the case.
The brand in 2018 released the initial HM9 Flow in ‘Air’ and ‘Road’ editions that conquered land and sky. And technically the HM9-SV is meant to embody the exploratory vessel from Atlantis. But I have my own interpretations.
I say the new release shines because if the 2-year old Horological Machine N°9, nicknamed HM9 ‘Flow’ can be a tribute to 1940s and 50s automotive and aeronautic designs of the earth, then the new HM9-SV can be a tribute to the automotive and aeronautic designs of a galaxy far, far away.
Just like the recently released MB&F HM3 FrogX, this one too takes horological innovation a leap forward. It’s what the Büsser and gang do best – force their way through into the depths of our minds astonishing them with mechanical art wonders.
So, can we interest you in some horological menace?
For more information on this and other MB&F watches, please to their website here. All images used unless stated otherwise are © MB&F SA 2018.