Mankind has always been fascinated by the universe since the beginning of time. Great men, such as Galileo, Neil Armstrong, and Stephen Hawking, have immersed themselves into finding the answers pertaining to one of the greatest mysteries ever known to humans. While the MB&F HM6 (also known as the Space Pirate) does not give us the answers to these questions, it gives us a glimpse into mankind’s obsession with the world beyond ours.
The MB&F HM6 is the culmination of Maximillian Büsser’s effort after four long years of development and research, ever since he gained an inspiration from a Japanese anime from his childhood: Capitaine Flam. For those folks who are fans of the space-themed anime, they may draw some semblance between the HM6 and the Comet Spacecraft.
One of the first thing that came to our mind when we first saw the HM6 was how different the watch looks, when it is being compared to its predecessors. Watches from the Horological Machine series are fascinating and deviant, but the HM6 is distinctive on a whole new level altogether. It appears as though it is an organism, having a life of its own. Somehow, we would like to imagine that it is an extra-terrestrial creature from another planet. This is thanks to art of biomorphism, a kind of art form which draws inspiration from the natural curves and forms found on living creatures. This is further accentuated by the domes on the case; it looks as though they are the “eyes” of the creature, much akin to the HM3 “Frog”. Absolutely captivating.
Well, since we are on the topic of the dome, we thought that it would be excellent to share some incredible facts on it. There are in total ten sapphire crystal domes on the watch itself; five on top and five on the bottom. The manufacturing process of the domes are tedious, due to the robust nature of the sapphire crystals. There is also a need to shape it with consistency, as any subtle differences will cause discerning optical distortions. And that will be awful, or even sacrilegious on such a tremendous timepiece. Finally, the domes are polished to make it transparent, resulting in what we are seeing on the pictures right now. While the domed sapphire crystals look rather simple, the process behind the entire thing is staggering.
Thereafter, we picked up the HM6. We were beguiled once again, this time by the mass of the watch. Its lightness awed us, considering how complicated this watch look. The HM6 is an intricate piece, with many complex mechanisms and a hefty looking case. Hence, its paper-light weight surprised us. We were then told that the case is made from titanium. In fact, two solid aerospace grade titanium ingots were used to manufacture the case. The end result is an extremely featherweight but strong piece of horology.
Apart from the use of titanium, an aluminium band is also used in the construction of the case. The band has two functions; it strengthens the entire case, and concurrently allowing the pivotal lugs a position to integrate into the case. This is ingenious, as it is functional and it value-adds to the design of the timepiece. We think that the watch might look a little plain if the aluminium band is removed, or even a little odd if the lugs are on the case of the watch itself.
The HM6 is powered by a movement made in collaboration with David Candaux, the man who was famously behind JLC’s Hybris Mechanica. It features a self-winding movement consisting 475 components, including a flying tourbillon and two aluminium turbines. Despite its lack of complications, the HM6 is actually an enthralling and complex timepiece. Kindly allow us to explain further.
One of the main elements of the HM6 would be aluminium indicating domes. While is looks deceivingly simple to produce, the process behind it is actually incredulous. Solid aluminium blocks are actually reduced to paper-thin thickness, to ensure that it does not require too much torque to turn the domes. Also, it is to ensure that it is wide enough to fit the complex gearing and drive train system that is required to allow the domes to rotate perpendicularly to the movement.
Another interesting feature is the retractable spherical shield, which lies a flying tourbillon beneath it. The retractable spherical shield can be operated by turning a separated crown, placed at the nine o’clock position of the timepiece. The spherical shield is to protect the UV radiation from potentially damaging the movement, since the rays are capable of oxidizing the lubricating oil on the movement and the escapement. The blades are manufactured using solid titanium ingots, in which it is reduced to paper-thin thickness. In total, the mechanism requires six of such overlapping and curved blades to fully protect the flying tourbillon.
When the spherical shields are hidden, the glorious flying tourbillon that is perched on the middle of the timepiece will come basking in for all to see. Adorning the flying tourbillon is the battle-axe motif that many fans will find it familiar on certain MB&F pieces. The choice of a flying tourbillon is clear; there is no place for a tourbillon bridge to support the mechanism in such a constricted space. The end result is phenomenal: it makes the watch so much more modern, which compliments the design of the timepiece.
At this point in time, I guess many readers are now puzzled with the two aluminium turbines present in the HM6. While these two turbines give the watch an aesthetic edge, it actually serve a very important purpose. According to MB&F, the turbines are driven from the rotation of the winding rotors, by a gear train, to amplify the number of rotations. It also counteracts to prevent wear and tear of the movement; it attempts to slow down the winding of the watch through air friction which will reduce the speed of the turbine when the platinum rotor is spinning excessively.
MB&F, or rather the Horological Machine collection, is no stranger to controversies. Most of the watches in the collection are distinctive, with unique design cues. It is a “love-it-or-loathe-it” collection, and the Space Pirate is no exception either. Some people might consider it to be a peculiar timepiece, or even exotic in some extreme cases. But that is what makes MB&F such an interesting brand, and that is why people buy MB&F pieces. It is unparalleled and extraordinary in terms of its appearance. There are not many watchmakers out there who are daring enough to be deviant. But Maximillian Büsser did. The result, needless to say, is amazing. And the HM6 is a testament to that. We feel that HM6 is remarkable, and indeed it is one of the more outstanding pieces in the world of horology. Only 50 examples are available at the moment though, and they are all finished in titanium. According to MB&F, there will be another 50 HM6 movements, in which we reckon that it will be cased in precious metals. Or will they come up with something different once again? Only time will tell.
Additional caption comments by Peter Chong.