SIHH 2017: MB&F HM7 Horological Machine N7, aka HM7 Aquapod
After pushing the boundaries of horological exploration by blasting into outer space (HM2, HM3, HM6), launching into the sky (HM4), and powering down the road and around the track (HM5, HMX, HM8), MB&F plunges into the water with Horological Machine N7, aka HM7 Aquapod.
On the MB&F Horological Machine N7 hours and minutes are displayed by two spherical segment discs in aluminium and titanium, which are supported by specially developed oversized ceramic ball bearings. The hour and minute numerals and markers have been hand-painted in Super-LumiNova, making them legible by night. They are hand-painted, because it is impossible to print neatly on such complexly-curved components.
The case of Horological Machine N7 Aquapod is basically a three-dimensional sandwich comprising two hemispheres of high-domed sapphire crystal on either side of a metal case band. The unidirectional ceramic bezel floats outside the case proper, while dual crowns are located between the two structures: the one on the left is for winding the movement (if necessary) and the crown on the right is for setting the time. The large crowns are ergonomically designed for ease of use, even when manipulated with wet fingers.
To create the eye-catching, curved ceramic bezel, the numerals and markers were first engraved in the ceramic using a laser, after which the engraved sections were filled with metalized titanium. The whole ring was then polished to a high gloss.
The strap in engraved aircraft-grade rubber highlights the casual nature of Horological Machine N7 Aquapod, ensuring that it looks just as good with jeans and a t-shirt on land as it does with a bathing suit in the water.
While Horological Machine N7 Aquapod is as contemporary as could be, the concept of the three-dimensional, spherical movement architecture is centuries old, originating in the “onion” pocket watches popular in the 18th century. Whereas the majority of watch movements are developed horizontally to be as flat as possible, the Engine of Horological Machine N7 goes up, not out, with all of its components arranged vertically. The movement of Horological Machine N7 was entirely developed in-house by MB&F. From bottom to top, the winding rotor, mainspring barrel, hour and minute indications, and flying tourbillon are all concentrically mounted around the central axis. Energy travels from the rotor at the very bottom of the movement to the flying tourbillon regulator at the very top via gearing acting like a series of stairs, allowing power to transition from one level to the next.
The choice of a flying tourbillon was deliberate as the upper bridge of a normal tourbillon would have necessitated the use of smaller, less legible time-display rings. The continually rotating flying tourbillon regulator at the very top of the movement is positioned for maximum appreciation by day, while three panels of AGT Ultra (Ambient Glow Technology) lume around the inside of the movement illuminate the Horological Machine N7 for maximum appreciation by night.
The winding rotor’s tentacles are machined from a solid block of titanium. Their curved, very three-dimensional nature is a manufacturing challenge, both for machining and for finishing, which alternates between polished and satin-finished sections. Hidden underneath the lightweight titanium tentacles, a sector in much heavier platinum ensures that the Horological Machine N7 Engine is wound efficiently.
The MB&F Horological Machine N7 Aquapod launches in 33 pieces in grade 5 titanium with blue bezel, and 66 pieces in 18K 5N+ red gold with black bezel.
Retail Price: $98,000 USD for the Titanium and $118,000 USD for the 18K Red Gold. For more info. on MB&F, click Here.