MB&F presented the HM3 Frog in 2010, derived from its HM3 series launched a year earlier. “The Frog” shocked the watchmaking world by pushing the limits of three-dimensional horology and would rapidly become one of our most recognised and well-liked Machines.
Press Release with commentary in italics.
Commentary on the HM3
The HM3 was originally introduced in two versions in 2009, one with the hour and minute turrets arranged vertically, and the other arranged horizontally. Max Büsser told us that they could not decide which was better and introduced both to let the market determine which was preferred. We are not sure which ended up as the more popular one, but the HM3 was an icon of its time. The MH3 engine was conceived for MB&F by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, built on a Girard-Perregaux base.
The HM3 had many iterations, and was the subject of many of Max’s weird and wonderful creations, including the Frog.
Two globular “eyes” that rotated to give the hours and minutes. A widely grinning “mouth” revealing the occasional bright flicker of the signature MB&F battle-axe rotor as it swept past a date scale. A glistening “skin” of titanium, red gold or exotic zirconium. HM3 Frog may have been small as a specimen of amphibious pondlife, but it was mighty on the wrist as it leapt to iconic status at the crossroads of kinetic art and horology.
We thought with the Final Edition of the Megawind, the very successful HM3 series was concluded. Here is the report on the Final Edition.
but apparently not! MB&F surprised us with this new HM3 FrogX. The new FrogX seems to be the same as the first generation Frog, but encased in a sapphire crystal case. The crown hides a small, but interesting detail as a surprise.
MB&F HM3 FrogX
Not only is the HM3 FrogX a surprise new model, the watch hides a birthday surprise. So, on its 10th birthday, the winding crown of FrogX hides a message… When it receives just the right amount of light, at just the right angle, it reflects a secret signature MB&F battle-axe.
HM3 FrogX is crafted in three limited editions of 10 pieces each, with matching rotor, gasket and Super-LumiNova in Purple, Blue or Turquoise.
Retail price is CHF 138,000 + VAT (USD 152,000 / EUR 128,000 + tax).
Presenting Horological Machine N°3 “FrogX”.
For the first time, the HM3 engine is showcased in all its glory, used here in its MegaWind iteration that trades the date display for an expanded rotor. Two paper-thin domes, milled out of aluminium to be as light as possible, indicate the hours and minutes, rotating under markers designed to resemble the lateral pupils of a frog’s eyes. Super-LumiNova accents, like the vivid colours that nature endows upon its feistiest creatures, reveal themselves in fluorescing segments under the rotor and on the time-display domes.
If the first HM3 Frog was an animal of land and lake, FrogX brings us into the arboreal realms of the transparent-skinned glass frogs of Central American cloud forests. The transparent case of FrogX is entirely of sapphire crystal, one of the hardest known minerals, and must be milled with diamond-tipped tools or special high-tech carbide bits. Despite MB&F’s experience with the most advanced sapphire-crystal producers (as demonstrated in earlier MB&F creations such as the HM4 Thunderbolt and HM6 Alien Nation), machining the case of HM3 FrogX still provides a considerable challenge. The separate sapphire domes not only need to be uniform in size, they must also be exactly uniform and consistent in thickness and curve so as not to create any final optical distortions in the reading of the time.
Those looking at the winding and setting crown of HM3 FrogX, expecting to see the usual battle-axe insignia, will be slightly baffled to find a smooth, highly polished disc (although exceptionally observant individuals may notice a slight irregularity in its reflection of light). At just the right angle, with just the right kind of directional light and just the right receiving surface, the final secret of the fully exposed FrogX is revealed. A secret signal, created by sculpting the metal crown at microscopic levels to allow it to reflect light in highly specific ways, is the key to unlocking the MB&F battle-axe.
The HM3 FrogX 10th anniversary limited editions are available in three versions of 10 pieces each with blue, purple or turquoise rotors and matching colours of Super-LumiNova and case gaskets.
To create the secret battle-axe signal, MB&F worked with light-sculpting techniques pioneered by Rayform, a Swiss company whose technology has various applications, from design to anti-counterfeiting measures.
By micro-forming a metal surface at levels nearly imperceptible to the human eye, Rayform technology is able to direct incident light beams to be reflected in customised ways, creating a light-encoded message or design that can be viewed on any relatively uniform surface.
Among the global Tribe of MB&F, certain elements constitute an insiders’ understanding of a shared passion, the battle-axe insignia being the first and foremost identifier of this exclusive community. With the secret message hidden via Rayform technology in the crown of HM3 FrogX, the code goes further undercover… even in a creation that exposes its innermost workings to the world.
Corundum, commonly known in its gem-quality form as sapphire, is one of the hardest minerals known to man. It is surpassed in hardness only by a few other materials, notably diamond (crystalline carbon), which rates a 10 on Moh’s scale of hardness, while corundum is rated at 9. This exceptional hardness means that sapphire watch crystals are virtually scratch-proof, providing unparalleled legibility and material integrity over the long term, not to mention imparting a level of prestige that is not associated with regular silicate glass or transparent polycarbonate — the two most common alternatives to sapphire watch crystals.
Concurrently, this also means that sapphire is extremely challenging to machine in complex three-dimensional shapes, a challenge that is compounded by the small machining tolerances required in watchmaking. Since its very first creations, MB&F has worked with ever-increasingly complicated sapphire crystal components; the HM2 “Sapphire Vision” editions, the double-arched crystals of the HM4 Thunderbolt and the hallucinatory body of the HM6 Alien Nation being prime examples.
The very first MB&F HM3 Frog from 2010 already presented a significant advance in its time, with the twin domes in sapphire crystal over the indications of the hours and minutes. Not only did the curvature of the domed “eyes” of HM3 Frog have to be exactly right, the thickness of the crystal was strictly controlled throughout so as not to distort the time display. In FrogX, the two sapphire domes are fused to the upper case body, itself also in sapphire crystal, creating an additional level of difficulty. Something we take for granted in biology — the formation of perfectly shaped pairs of optical lenses — proves a daunting task to replicate by mechanical means.
Machining and polishing each case of HM3 FrogX requires weeks of intensive and meticulous work, a number that would be multiplied greatly if not for MB&F’s 15 years of experience in boundary-pushing sapphire crystal design since 2005.
More about HM3
Horological Machine N°3 was first presented in 2009, and in its six years of production became MB&F’s most popular model. Before FrogX, the case and movement architecture gave rise to 19 previous variations: HM3 Starcruiser in red and white gold, HM3 Sidewinder in red and white gold, HM3 ReBel, JWLRYMACHINE in purple and pink versions, HM3 Frog Ti, HM3 Chocolate Frog, HM3 Black Frog (green rotor), HM3 Frog Zr (purple rotor), HM3 Fire Frog, HM3 Poison Dart Frog, MoonMachine in titanium, black and red gold variations, MegaWind in red and white gold and the 2015 MegaWInd Final Edition. Apart from its straightforward success as an MB&F creation, HM3 (and particularly HM3 Frog) is also the emotional touchstone of the MB&F Tribe, the global community of owners and aficionados that constitute an essential part of the universe of Maximilian Büsser & Friends. Now, with HM3 FrogX and its hidden battle-axe call sign, members of the MB&F Tribe have in common not only an open passion, but a secret code.
HM3 FrogX Specifications
HM3 FrogX 10th anniversary limited editions in sapphire crystal: 3 x 10 pieces in blue, purple or turquoise
Three-dimensional horological engine designed by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht / Agenhor, powered by a Girard-Perregaux base.
Balance frequency: 4Hz / 28,800 bph
Battle-axe automatic winding rotor in 22k gold and titanium with blue, purple or turquoise CVD coating matching the case gasket.
Hours and minutes transmitted via ceramic ball bearings to rotating domes.
Number of components: 277
Number of jewels: 36
Super-LumiNova segments under the battle-axe and on the hour and minute domes.
Hours on one dome (aluminium dome rotating in 12 hours).
Minutes on second dome (aluminium dome rotating in 60 minutes).
“Secret message” crown reflects light rays to project the MB&F battle-axe icon (Rayform technology).
Material: sapphire crystal
Domes, bezel and back with anti-reflective treatment on each face
Gasket in blue, purple or turquoise matching the battle-axe rotor
Dimensions: 48.3 mm x 52.7 mm x 17.5mm
Number of components: 59
Water resistance: 30 m / 90 feet / 3 atm
Rotating aluminium domes – 0.58g
Strap & Buckle
Hand-stitched alligator strap with titanium custom designed folding buckle.