Two weeks ago, MB&F celebrated 10 years of our HM3 Frog by announcing the “FrogX” anniversary editions. The Frog was one of the two crazy watches debuted by MB&F in 2010. The same year also saw the release of the radical HM4 Thunderbolt. To celebrate the 10th Anniversary, MB&F transforms the original HM4 prototype into a Pièce Unique: the HM4 ‘Kittyhawk’.
Press Release information with commentary in italics.
We covered the HM4 on several occassions:
The series actually concluded with the Final Edition in 2013.
Interesting that MB&F chose to release the original prototype, which is now 10 years old, as a Pièce Unique with special artwork. The special commission work is made by a miniature artist, Isabelle Villa.
The selection of the Curtiss P-40 is very interesting as well. This is a curious aircraft, not particularly known for its performance. The engines lacked power and when it saw combat in World War II, it was inferior to Luftwaffe fighters such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 or the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in high-altitude combat. It also had a more significant role in elsewhere where the P-40’s performance at high altitudes was less important. There it served as an air superiority fighter, bomber escort and fighter-bomber.
It was also the subject of a celebrated release by Breitling Aviator 8 Curtiss Warhawk collection in collaboration with ace WW II pilot Ollie Crawford, who passed away in 2019 at a ripe old age of 94.
The retail price of the MB&F HM4 Kittyhawk -a Pièce Unique is CHF 218,000 + tax.
MB&F HM4 Kittyhawk -a Pièce Unique made from the original prototype
The HM4 case escapes any standard definition, matched inside by an engine that defies conventional watch movement construction. Due to its complexity, it was limited from the beginning to just 100 pieces, and each of those 100 movements found its way into one of the various HM4 editions – the last remaining piece was sold years ago.
If you know a bit about aviation, the name Kittyhawk will not be unfamiliar. The Curtiss P-40 was one of the most important WW2 allied aircraft, produced between 1938 and 1944. Depending on the version, it carried nicknames like Warhawk, Tomahawk… and Kittyhawk. Criticised for its average performance on paper, its track record in combat was surprisingly good; still today, aviation experts argue about the plane’s merits and weaknesses. Regardless, it remains one of the most iconic aircraft of that time – especially the samples rocking the typical “shark mouth” and eyes.
Just like the “nose art” of those legendary WW2 aircraft, this Pièce Unique bears a hand-painted shark mouth and eyes, along with aged time and power reserve dials.
The titanium case of the 10-year old prototype was first prepared to welcome the recessed painting by carefully removing microns of metal from the sides of the fuselage, following the shape of the illustrations. It was then handed over to the incredibly talented miniaturist painter Isabelle Villa, who delicately painted the menacing teeth and angry eyes. A final coat of transparent varnish was applied to protect the miniature painting, flush with the case.