News October 2008

HM3 - Horological Machine N°3

Warning! It may cause sensory overload

The Watch Quote™ - October 15th, 2008



“The Earth is a cradle of the mind,
but we cannot live forever in a cradle.”
Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky,
Father of Russian Astronautics, 1896
Warning! Horological Machine No3 (HM3) is so far outside existing timekeeping references that it may cause sensory overload. The mind first attempts to take in the kinetically active movement, paradoxically seen in all its glory on the top of the watch and partially circumscribed by a ring of large numerals. However before that information can be processed it is assailed yet again, this time by twin cones rising majestically from the sculptured three-dimensional case. No wonder many struggle to reconcile the reality that this dynamic sculpture is actually a highly technical wristwatch that tells the time and date.


Welcome to the world of MB&F!



Individualists demand choice, so HM3 is available in two versions: ‘Sidewinder’, with cones lined perpendicular to the arm and ‘Starcruiser’, with cones in line with the arm. Each version has its own very distinct visual characteristics and each offers its own angle on telling the time.

The twin cones respectively indicate hours and minutes, with the hour cone capped by a day/night indicator. An over-sized date wheel allows for large, legible numbers with the date indicated by a neatly engraved triangle on its perimeter.



However, it is the spectacular open-air theatre presented by the finely finished movement, with its swinging battle-axe shaped automatic rotor and fast oscillating balance wheel, which mesmerises the eye and astounds the senses.

Turning the watch over reveals the technical secret behind HM3’s inverted movement: two large high-tech ceramic bearings efficiently transmitting power up to the cones and date wheel.



About MB&F

After decades learning and conforming to the corporate rules of watchmaking, Maximilian Büsser broke the chains and started a rebellion - a rebellion called MB&F. MB&F is an artistic and micro-engineering concept laboratory in which collectives of independent horological professionals are assembled each year to design and craft radical Horological Machines.

The ramifications of these audacious projects are profound. Respecting tradition but not shackled by it, MB&F fuses traditional high-quality watchmaking with cutting-edge technology to create three-dimensional kinetic sculptures.

Horological Machine No3 is the third chapter in the story of MB&F’s horological revolution; it is a story of adventure, of excitement and of passion.


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HM3 - Horological Machine N°3

Inspiration and Realization




“The knack of flying is learning
how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Inspiration and Realization: Horological Machine No3 was developed to display the machine’s beautifully finished movement in operation. Harmoniously crafted bridges, rapidly oscillating balance wheel, gearing and distinctive battle-axe shaped automatic winding rotor are all open to view. This allows the wearer to fully appreciate the art and craft that makes up HM3 and draws the viewer’s gaze inside the highly complex machine; a machine comprising more than 300 fine-finished, high-precision components.



The movement of HM3 has been literally turned upside down to allow for an uninterrupted panorama of the solid gold winding rotor’s graceful arcs and the high-speed oscillations of the balance wheel. Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, winner of the inaugural award for Best Watchmaker at the 2007 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, was entrusted with turning the drawings and designs of Max Büsser and designer Eric Giroud into horological reality and, with his team at Agenhor, he not only met but surpassed the challenge.


Starcruiser and Sidewinder: MB&F’s Horological Machines are for individualists who demand art, craft, excellence, exclusivity . . . and choice. To cater to these demanding aficionados, Horological Machine No3 is available in two versions: ‘Sidewinder’, with its cones lined perpendicular to the arm and ‘Starcruiser’, with its cones in line with the arm. Just like their potential owners, each is very special, each is very different.

Indications: The three-dimensional time-indicating cones allow for telling the time at a glance, whether driving or typing; however, the fact that nothing like them had ever been attempted before in horology posed considerable challenges. The top caps of the truncated cones are brazed (not glued) to ensure maximum water-resistance and the red ‘hands’ of the hour and minute indicators had to be cut by laser to obtain the incredibly high precision with minimum mass that the design necessitated.



The over-sized date wheel is actually a larger diameter than the movement, a fact that allows for very legible and well spaced 2.5mm high numbers. A neat triangle engraved into the top of the case marks the date.

Mystery Rotor: the prominence of the 22K solid gold battle-axe shaped rotor on the dial of HM3 is certain to increase the recognition of this already iconic MB&F symbol. The rotor is a ‘mystery’ because it appears to defy the laws of physics in being symmetrically balanced instead of having a visibly off-centred mass. This is achieved by machining the underside of one arm to a razor-thin edge so reducing its mass.

HM3 - Horological Machine N°3

Technical Innovations:


"Traveling through hyper-space
ain't like dustin' crops, boy."
Han Solo in Star Wars
Ceramic Bearings: Time indications are usually located on the top, or dial side, of a movement. As the movement of HM3 is inverted to display its operation, an efficient solution was needed to bring power from the bottom of the movement to the timekeeping cones and date wheel at the top. Standard pinions set in jewels would have required complex, friction-generating gearing, and would require support top and bottom – a factor which would increase the height of the movement, and thus the watch. So instead of standard jewelled pinions, HM3 features two large-diameter (15mm) high-tech ceramic bearings. These minimize the number of gear-wheels (and thus friction) because of their large diameter and, as they only require support at one end (the base) due to the rigidity resulting from their ultra-high precision design and manufacture, they allow for a thinner movement.



Large Date: The over-sized date ring has a diameter larger than the movement. While the design allows for large (2.5mm high) easy-to-read numbers, the considerable distance between each number, while aiding legibility, required great ingenuity in enabling the date to be adjusted. Technical constraints in using the crown to operate the date meant that a pusher was called for; however, a pusher has an approximate travel of only 1mm – far short of the 4mm needed to move the date wheel from one day to the next. An ingenious system of amplifying the pusher’s travel was developed using efficient gearing to multiply by four the distance travelled by the pusher.

Sapphire cones: Three-dimensional cones have never been used to display time before, and no wonder as their manufacture was said to be impossible. Fortunately the impossible just took a little longer. The difficulty lay not in actually fabricating the cones, but in polishing the interior of their (originally) translucent surface until transparent. The caps of the truncated cones are brazed (a high temperature soldering technique) to their gold rims, a technique which is aesthetically pleasing and ensures a solid and waterproof construction.



Screw heads: Perfection lies in the details, form follows function. Those two statements explain both the reason MB&F has gone to the effort of redesigning the slots of the case screws and their unusual cloverleaf shape. Sharp-edge shaped screw slots require sharp-edge shaped screwdrivers, a tool tailor-made for scratching polished gold screws. The rounded cloverleaf pattern in the head of HM3 screws is not only pleasing to the eye, it reduces the chances of damage to the screw. Horological Machines are micro-mechanical works of art and demand that each and every component both looks superb and functions impeccably.

Case and finish: Though totally original in design, the double indications, idiosyncratic play of matt and polished finished surfaces, iconic mystery rotor and slope-sided case ensure that HM3 is unmistakeably, 100 per cent pure Horological Machine.

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