MB&F’s Horological Machines have wowed with their futuristic and artistic watchmaking creations, but now its masterminds have revved their engines to go back to the future with a new timepiece inspired by 1970s supercars.
Forty years ago – yes, 40 – the 1970s were in full swing and the future was focused on everything super and intergalactic, from moon landings and hovercrafts to Concorde. On terra firma, cars were also part of this desire to be futuristic and sleek – just think Laborghini, Ferrari, Lotus and Maserati – with black grilles, large panoramic windows and angled bodywork.
It is these cars – and a little-known watch brand from the decade – that have inspired MB&F’s latest Horological Machine, the HM5 On the Road Again. “Imagine telling somebody in 1972 that in 2012, most people would be wearing round watches with round dials and three hands. That would sound crazier and more far fetched than the idea of living on Mars,” says Maximilian Büsser, founder of MB&F.
This latest retro-yet-futuristic creation also pays homage to an early 1970s watch brand called Amida, which dared to create a watch with a futuristic tapered case and a vertical digital LED-style display. While a number of watch connoisseurs today will regard its design as something true of the time, the brand failed to develop further, and thus Büsser and his watchmaking team have put to pen to paper 40 years on to realise the On the Road Again timepiece.
The new watch plays on the lowered body of 1970s supercars, with louvers (angled grilles) on the HM5 designed with a slide operation that opens them, allowing light in to charge the Superluminva numbers that appear on the discs to display the time.
According to MB&F, while the HM5 On the Road Again might appear relatively simple, it features a complicated hour and minute display with bi-directional jumping hours and indications inversed, reflected 90° to the vertical to and magnified 20% to make reading the time that little bit clearer.
Inside you find what MB&F dubs its “engine”, a 3D complication developed by Jean-François Mojon and Vincent Boucard of Chronode and powered by a Sowind gear train. It has a 22ct gold battle axe-shaped winding rotor, 224 components and a 42-hour power reserve.
With all this going on, the watch has also got a natty way to deal with water. After all, while supercars of the era were gorgeous, they didn’t just sit in the garage waiting to be driven, and likewise the HM5 On the Road Again demands to be taken out every day, come shine or shower. As a result, while the case is not water resistant owing to the louvers, a space has been built within the watch to collect and drain any water that happens to enter it. As MB&F says, while supercars have throaty exhaust pipes, the HM5 has an exhaust to drain water and keep its movement nice and dry.
This watch may be relatively simple in MB&F terms but it tells the time in a quirky way, has a sizeable 51.5mm zirconium case and smoked sapphire crystal for that added touch of legibility, albeit a kitsch one. The HM5 On the Road Again will be limited to just 66 pieces (a play on the famous US driving route, perhaps?) which makes it all the more desirable. Now all we need is a pair of checked flares and some brown tinted shades.
Case: zirconium, 51.5mm x 49mm x 22.5mm
Operation: Slide button to open and close louvers
Movement: 3D “engine” with 224 parts, 42 hour power reserve, bi-directional jumping hours
Glass: Smoked sapphire crystal
Run: Limited to 66 pieces
RRP: Approx. £36,000
This article was taken from the January 2013 issue of WatchPro. To read the magazine online, click here.