Over the last decade, two indelible forms have often marked MB&F’s Horological Machines: the distinctive angular form and optical prism displays of the revisited 1970s Amida watch, which first manifested in HM5 and then HMX, and the now signature “battle-axe” winding rotor, which took centre stage on top of HM3, MB&F’s most popular model to date. Horological Machine N°8 (HM8) takes those two idiosyncratic features and infuses them with high-octane Can-Am race car inspired design, generating an exquisitely sculptured, high-speed wrist-borne fantasy.
HM8 Can-Am features a curvaceous yet angular case, with dual optical prisms vertically displaying bi-directional jumping hours and trailing minutes, while the distinctive battle-axe winding rotor is visible on top. But the real star of HM8 is its Can-Am inspired polished “roll bars” majestically sweeping from the front of the Machine down to the beguiling tapered back. Incongruously for a fully mechanical racing machine, the visual effect is electric. Those roll bars are milled from solid blocks of grade 5 titanium and then meticulously hand-polished to gleam like tubular mirrors.
HM8’s Engine sits in full view under a nearly invisible sapphire crystal engine cover. The open centre of the blued-gold battle-axe rotor enables appreciation of the circular wave finish on the movement, while the hour and minute indication discs are visible in the corners.
HM8 Can-Am is powered by an in-house developed bi-di- rectional jumping hour and trailing minute indication module, on a Sowind base movement. The movement is inverted to put the winding rotor on top and modified to drive the prism indicator module. The finishing of the movement is first class, which it has to be as it is completely open to view from the top. The power reserve is 42 hours.
The bi-directional jumping hour and trailing minute displays on HM8 are materialised by overlapping discs (one for the hours, one for the minutes), completely covered in Super-LumiNova. The effect of large numerals is created by masking all of the lume except for the numbers. The discs rotate horizontally on top of the movement; they are visible in the corners of the transparent Engine cover. Yet the time indications are displayed vertically in a ‘dashboard’ at the front of the case. To achieve this, MB&F worked with a high-precision optical glass supplier to develop reflective sapphire crystal prisms that reflect light from the discs 90°. The prisms also magnify the indications by 20% to maximise legibility. HM8 has separate sapphire crystal prisms for the hour and minute displays, which are wedge-shaped with precisely calculated angles to ensure that light is reflected (and reversed) from the horizontal indications to the vertical rather than refracted (bent). A convex lens at the front provides the magnification. Sapphire crystal is much more difficult to work to optical precision than glass, it took considerable development and meticulous care in production to create crystals that reflected and magnified light without the slightest distortion. Because the time is reflected, the numbers are printed on the discs as mirror images so that they display correctly on the ‘dial’.
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