Finnish independent watchmaker Stepan Sarpaneva has joined MB&F’s growing circle of “friends,” collaborating with MB&F founder Max Büsser to develop the newest MB&F “horological machine,” called the HM3 MoonMachine. Designed on the platform of MB&F’s unconventional “Frog” model, it features an entirely new moon-phase complication designed by Sarpaneva.
Sarpaneva, who worked with brands such as Piaget and Parmigiani, and with watchmakers like Vianney Halter and Christophe Claret, before starting his own brand in 2003, has become known for three signature themes: moon-phase indicators with distinctive, expressive “faces,” based on his own face, engraved on the moon; the use of stars and constellations from the northern sky of his native Finland; and the use of a crenellated case shape that he refers to as “Korona.” All of these elements are present in the new model, which MB&F (which stands for Max Büsser and Friends) has designated as part of its “Performance Art” series, in which outside watchmakers and designers modify existing MB&F watches. (Click on watch photos for larger images.)
Two rotating moons, with Sarpaneva’s hand-finished faces, pass through an aperture that is shaped like the Korona case to indicate the phase of the moon. The northern star pattern is represented on a deep blue field that is actually a multi-layered, 22k-gold winding rotor with a blue PVD treatment; the stars are laser-pierced through the rotor and allow light to reflect from the movement underneath. The movement itself is developed by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and Nicolas Stalder of Agenhor, who radically altered the Girard-Perregaux base caliber, and modified by Sarpaneva with the moon-phase complication.
MB&F and Sarpaneva chose the Frog case for this piece because of the large, rotor-shaped dial opening that allows an expansive view of the movement (or, in this case, the blue, star-dappled rotor that overlaps it). The other hallmarks of the Frog case are the bulbous, rotating aluminum domes, covered by domed sapphire crystals, that indicate the hours (on the dome marked 1 through 12) and minutes (on the one marked 1 though 60). Each dome is machined from solid aluminum to a wall thickness of a minuscule .28 mm and the semi-spherical sapphire crystals also must be meticulously machined, because any imperfection affects the legibility of the numerals on the domes. Another area in which the MoonMachine differs from the Frog is that its domes are perpendicular, rather than parallel, to the wrist. Also, the designers needed to come up with an entirely new gear train because the hours dome of the HM3 makes a 24-hour revolution rather than the 12-hour revolution of the Frog.
Other pertinent details: the star pattern on the rotor is designed very specifically to show the seven brightest stars in the constellations Ursa Major (or the Big Dipper) and Ursa Minor (Little Dipper), the latter of which includes Polaris, the so-called North Star. One of the star apertures is positioned to allow easy access for a watchmaker’s tool when the watch needs servicing. And another signature MB&F design element, the battle-axe shape used for the rotors of many of its watches, is used here as the rotor’s axis, positioned between the two moon faces.
The MB&F HM3 MoonMachine is available in three limited editions of 18 pieces each: in a titanium case with white-gold moon faces in a light blue sky, in a black titanium case with white-gold moon faces in a dark blue sky, and in a rose-gold case with rose-gold moon faces in an anthracite sky. All are priced at $98,000.
Receive all the news, features and reviews from WatchTime for free! Sign up to our free weekly newsletter and get all the news delivered to your inbox.