Classics Revisited: Hands-On with the MB&F Horological Machine 2 (HM2)

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When MB&F debuted its first timepiece – the Horological Machine 1 – in 2007, it changed the way we view watches. It also paved the way for the vibrant independent watchmaking scene that we are so accustomed to today.

Chances are, for the younger collectors, MB&F is probably the first independent watch brand that one is familiar with. It is not a surprise, considering the amount of clout and reputation that the brand has built over the last 14 years.

Today, we have the opportunity to get our hands on one of the first few models that was released by the brand: The Horological Machine 2 (HM2). This is courtesy of our collector friend Nicholas, who had acquired this timepiece not too long ago. Here, we will get to see how early MB&F watches are like, and also have a glimpse of how this watch had built the foundations of the brand – and led them to where they are today.

MB&F Horological Machine 2 (HM2)

First introduced in 2008, the MB&F Horological Machine 2 – as its namesake suggests – is the second model in the brand’s famed Horological Machine collection.

Also known as the HM2, the timepiece is a collaboration between Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, Maximilien Di Blasi, and Patrick Lété. The HM2, notably, is a complete opposite from the HM1. This MB&F features a contemporary rectangular case, with a pair of circles that houses two retrograde indicators and a moonphase display. This is unlike the HM1, where the case is more curvaceous and is not dissimilar to a Venn diagram.

While it may be less technically complicated (versus the tourbillon, quadruple barrels, and a revolutionary regulating system in HM1), the HM2 certainly focuses more on the design elements – and in turn setting the direction for the future of the Horological Machine collection. In today’s article, we will be revisiting the HM2, and find out what makes this piece so special.

The Case, Dial, and Hands

For any collectors who have been in the scene for a while, the HM2 is a timepiece that can be easily identified. This is all thanks to its large rectangular case (which measures 59 x 38 x 13mm), and a pair of bolted portholes that houses two separate dials.

Inspired by the science fiction novels of the 20th century, the HM2 is indeed an intriguing piece with a rather modernist and contemporary touch. Exposed screws are aplenty with the watch, and its 100-part modular construction – which was influenced by the meccano sets of Max’s childhood – gives the watch a unique appearance that is pretty much unlike any others when it was first launched. It was, and still is, a bold watch – but one that Max had managed to pull off very successfully. But this is definitely mild if we compare it to the newer MB&F watches.

This particular example is cased in ceramic and titanium, which we reckon works rather well with the theme of the watch. The brushed surface, especially, gives the watch a rather industrial feel, and that is further reinforced with the relatively darker shade of the ceramic as well.

Next, we take a look at the most important element of the HM2: Dials.

As mentioned, the HM2 is fitted with two separate dials, each housed by an individual porthole. On the left, we have the date indicator, in which the former has been fitted with a retrograde mechanism. In addition, the same porthole also houses a bi-hemisphere moonphase display, and it is constructed in white gold.

For the other porthole, it houses the time display. Similarly, the minute indicator uses a retrograde mechanism, while the hour indicator employs a highly energy-efficient jump hour system. Notably, the latter can be read through a ring that is on sapphire crystal.

Finally, the hands for the two retrograde displays come in the form of a small triangle. The triangles are filled with luminescence materials as well. It is rather ironic that the hands are so simple, in the grand scheme of things. However, we do think that this is a nice balance too, so that the watch does not perhaps look too outrageous or overly-complicated, and create unnecessary confusion at the end of the day.

The Movement

The HM2, notably, is powered by a Girard-Perregaux/Sowind-based movement and designed by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht/Agenhor. The self-winding movement consists of 349 parts and 44 jewels.

The highlight of the movement, aside from its complications, is the 22k red gold “battle-axe” winding rotor. The rotor is a sight to behold, and it is accompanied by a series of beautiful inwards and sharp angles that feature anglage. Finishing-wise, the general movement is decent, but definitely nowhere as spectacular as the ones in the Legacy Machine series. It is important to note that the focus of this piece are the complications and overall design, so we do place a lower emphasis on the movement finishing here.

Operation-wise is simple. The time and date indicators can be adjusted by the crown on the 12 o’clock position, which can be unlocked via a latch at the front of the timepiece. As for the moonphase indicator, there is a separate pusher at the side of the case.

Concluding Thoughts

The HM2, or HM3 for some, is perhaps the first watch that introduced them to the independent watchmaking scene. We can certainly thank Max and his team for that.

Interestingly, while speaking to the owner of the watch, we drew the same conclusion for the HM2. The watch is at an inflexion point for MB&F. If we look at the HM1, the watch is very technical in terms of its complications. On the other hand, if we look at any watches from HM3 onwards (sans the LM series), aesthetics and designs – as well as the visual elements especially on time-telling – seem to play a more important role. The subsequent watches also take on a more organic feel, This leaves the HM2 at a very interesting spot, where it blends both design and complications altogether – resulting in the best of both worlds.

Having spent a couple of weeks with this watch, we do agree that it still remains a very alluring piece, even up to this day. It wears like how we would imagine it to be: Magical. You just cannot help but to steal glances at it from time to time; you know that this is a very special item indeed.

And you certainly do feel special when you wear it.

Author’s note: The watch was a kind loan from Deployant friend Nicholas Tan.


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