Sapphire Vision: Exploring Time and Depth with MB&F HM9’s Aquatic Elegance

Introduced in 2018, the MB&F Horological Machine N°9, also known as HM9 ‘Flow’, paid homage to the captivating automotive and aeronautic designs of the 1940s and 50s. This led to the creation of a uniquely designed case that resembled the sleek and aerodynamic contours of that era.

Despite the captivating external appearance, Maximilian Büsser, the founder of MB&F, referred to the internal mechanism of HM9 as the most exquisite movement they had ever produced. To further elevate this creation, they decided to encase the HM9 engine within a transparent sapphire crystal shell, resulting in the birth of the HM9 ‘Sapphire Vision’ editions, or HM9-SV for short.

These editions consist of two watches set against a black backdrop. The external structure features a combination of sapphire crystal and precious metal, intricately crafted and joined in three sections. The sealing is achieved using a proprietary blend of a patented three-dimensional gasket and a sophisticated compound bonding process. The two autonomous cantilevered balances transmit data to a differential, which harmonizes the dual heartbeats into a unified time pulse. Precise conical gears efficiently convert the engine’s energy, redirecting it at a 90° angle to power the time display on a sapphire crystal dial, enhanced with Super-LumiNova.

On the reverse side, beneath each balance, there are coaxial propellers – twin turbines that rotate freely, adding a purely visual element of interest. Following the initial HM9 Flow ‘Air’ and ‘Road’ models that dominated both land and sky, the HM9-SV now delves into the depths of the ocean, the last unexplored realm on Earth. This watch resembles an exploration vessel from Atlantis, fueled by a technology that is both familiar and alien to our eyes.

From an external perspective, the lines of the HM9-SV seamlessly connect with the design principles of its predecessors dedicated to road and air exploration. Although the design retains the influence of fluid dynamics, the underwater objectives allow for a more graceful approach compared to the sharp angles and curves of the earlier Flow versions. The redesigned dimensions accommodate the unique properties of sapphire crystal, which, while extremely hard, can shatter under pressure, unlike metals that deform. The smoother contours not only enhance the aesthetics of the ocean-inspired design but also reinforce its resilience.

The HM9 engine follows the trail blazed by the engines in Horological Machines N°4 and N°6, defying conventional movement construction. Its intricate assembly of wheels, gears, plates, and bridges adopts unexpected forms to reside within the dynamic outer case, creating a fusion of mechanical core and crystalline exterior.

While a traditional balance frequency of 2.5Hz might seem outdated in a modern timepiece, the use of two balances compensates for the lower beat rate’s susceptibility to shocks. Two calibrated systems offer more consistent readings than a single system, which might produce irregular results.

To enhance shock resistance, the HM9-SV editions introduce a novel shock-absorption system: helicoidal springs positioned between the movement and the case. These springs, fabricated through laser technology from polished stainless steel, provide excellent elasticity and limited lateral movement.

Initially, the HM9 Sapphire Vision was offered in four editions, each limited to only five pieces: two editions with an 18K red gold frame paired with a NAC-coated black or a PVD-coated blue engine, and two editions with an 18K white gold frame featuring a PVD-coated purple or a red gold plated engine. In 2023, two new editions were introduced: one with a PVD-coated blue engine and a white gold frame, and another with a PVD-coated green engine and a yellow gold frame. Both versions are limited to just five pieces each.

The MB&F HM9 Sapphire Vision is available for purchase at SGD 660,000 per piece, inclusive of tax.