Renowned Swiss architect Le Corbusier once stated, "Une maison est une machine à habiter (a house is a machine to live in).” Drawing inspiration from these words, MB&F, celebrated for its innovative approach to traditional watchmaking, has stepped beyond the conventional boundaries of timepieces to launch the Horological Machine Nº11 Architect at the ongoing Dubai Watch Week 2023. It doesn't merely measure time, it beckons its wearers to immerse themselves in its intricate design, seamlessly blending the realm of horology with that of architecture.
The House that Max Built
In the mid- to late 1960s, architecture underwent an experimental shift, marked by a humanistic approach (“bubble houses”). Architects, often dubbed habitologists, built houses that seemed to have been exhaled from the earth, embracing organic, playful forms. Inspired by these avant-garde designs, founder Maximilian Büsser envisioned a watch that mirrored the essence of these houses. The result? The HM11 Architect.
Inside the Architectural Marvel
The HM11 Architect features a central flying tourbillon as the heart of the "house", resting under a double-domed sapphire roof. The tourbillon's quatrefoil-shaped upper bridge echoes the architectural motifs that are found in historic temples. The watch comprises four symmetrical rooms, with a 90° angle of offset, allowing versatile display orientations. Each room serves a distinct purpose.
Innovative Display and Energy Efficiency
The HM11 Architect's energy-efficient construction allows 45° clockwise turns, each providing 72 minutes of power to the barrel. After 10 rotations, the watch achieves its maximum autonomy of 96 hours. The versatile display orientation offers a practical and aesthetic advantage, providing a tactile click with each turn.
Rooms with a Purpose
While all rooms share a glossy white interior with a sapphire crystal window, each serves a unique function. The time room displays hours and minutes through rod-mounted orbs, a power reserve resides in the adjacent room, and an uncommon mechanical thermometer is found in another. The final room, seemingly empty, serves as the time-setting crown, accessed by pulling on a transparent module.
Crafting the Architectural Timepiece
The genesis of the HM11 Architect involved blueprints, crafted in 2018 by Eric Giroud, a key player in MB&F's design process. The case, constructed from challenging materials like titanium and sapphire crystal, is a complex interplay of inner and outer surfaces. The sapphire crystal components, including a see-through crown, add aesthetic appeal and technical challenges.
The watch's innovative crown design involves two sets of gaskets, akin to a double airlock security system. The HM11 Architect boasts a total of 19 gaskets, ensuring a water resistance rating of 2ATM. The complexity of the case demands meticulous craftsmanship, taking close to a week to get completed.
Power and Efficiency
Despite its architectural complexity, the HM11 case measures a sleek 42 mm in diameter. The watch's power reserve of 96 hours is efficiently rewound with just 10 clockwise rotations, a feat achieved by relocating the winding action from a small crown to the case itself. This not only simplifies the winding process but also enhances torque.
Innovations in Shock Protection
The flying tourbillon, a hallmark of MB&F's mechanical identity, is safeguarded by a full-system dampener, a rare feature in watchmaking. Four high-tension suspension springs shield the movement, providing protection against shocks and ensuring optimal performance.
Old Principles, New Functions
The HM11 Architect incorporates a mechanical thermometer, using a centuries-old principle of exploiting differences in thermal expansion coefficients. Derived from aerospace technology, the watch features custom springs, laser-cut from low-carbon high-hardness steel tube with chrome finish, a testament to MB&F's commitment to innovation.
The HM11 Architect is offered in two variations: one with a titanium case and a blue dial plate, limited to 25 pieces, and another with a titanium case and a red gold dial plate, also limited to 25 pieces. Both models feature rubber straps, with the blue version complemented by a white strap and the red gold version adorned with a khaki green strap, secured with a titanium tang buckle.
The MB&F Horological Machine Nº11 Architect is undoubtedly a testament to creativity and innovation. This groundbreaking timepiece challenges conventional norms, inviting wearers to not only wear time, but also to live within its architectural marvel.