Watchmakers often speak of legacy, traditions and values with serious gravity. Although we don’t see anything wrong with that, we believe that repeatedly invoking these words to cover up their unwillingness to go berserk with ideas, or their lack of enthusiasm for innovations in design and aesthetics, is a strategy that many watchmakers have adopted over the years. Consequently, rarely do we get time pieces that would induce what DH Lawrence would have called, a crisis.
Not MB&F though. Their series of Horological Machine or HMs have always induced Lawrencian crises. Yes, plural. Their ninth iteration, the Number 9, or Flow, as it is known, is what would have happened if a Victorian’s vision met the 21st Century. There are two versions of the watches, one of which is inspired by the aeronautical designs of the mid to late 1960s, and is called the Air. The other one, inspired by some of the most iconic cars from the same era, is called the Road. Although both the watches have been bequeathed with almost identical aesthetics, the subtle differences between the face and the movements of the Air and Road, make each of them stand out.
While the Air has a dark coloured movement, and a face that resembles a dial from the cockpit of an airplane, the Road’s movement is finished in rose gold and has the face inspired by a car’s speedometre. On the flanks of the watch are two “airscoops” which also house the two balancing wheels with planetary differentials. The main sphere, on top of the watch, where normally, one would find the face, houses the gears and has been aptly called the “gearbox”. The face’s location at the side of the watch is actually quite functional if one thinks about it, making it easier for a driver or a pilot to look at, without taking his hands off of the steering wheel, or the control column.
The machine and the gearbox all sit inside a beautifully crafted case, made of titanium and sapphire. The manually wound in house movement, has a frequency of 2.5 Hz, with over 300 components and 44 functional jewels. Needless to say, the machinery is exquisite and, quite frankly, a piece of art. All this glory sits on your wrist courtesy of a hand stitched calf leather strap, with a custom designed titanium folding buckle.
The MB&F HM9 Flow is priced at $182,000. Only 33 pieces of each, the Road and the Air have been made.