SIHH 2018 is finished. Kaput. Done for. That doesn’t mean that we still don’t have plenty of new watches to discuss. One of the most interesting collaborations we saw last week in Geneva was between MB&F and Sarpaneva. MB&F, as you probably know, is one of the world’s foremost producers of avant-garde timepieces. However, Sarpaneva is a brand that you might not be familiar with. The brand is run by Stepan Sarpaneva, a Finnish watchmaker with a bit of a thing for moon phase displays. This is the second lunar-focused collaboration between the two independent brands, joining the original MoonMachine from 2012.
Sarpaneva, who previously worked with brands such as Piaget and Parmigiani Fleurier, 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.”
What makes the MoonMachine 2 unique compared to Sarpaneva’s previous watches is that rather than a traditional engraved moon phase indicator, it has the world’s first projected moon phase display. This projection is made possible through an optical prism, which refracts the hours, minutes, and moon discs in their flat positions so they appear perpendicular to the engine. There are three total moons throughout the timepiece, two are mounted on the moon disc, cycling between the jump hour and running minute indicator. The third (larger) Sarpaneva moon is set on the winding rotor. Each of the moons is made of gold and finished by hand and are some of the smallest moons that Sarpaneva has ever worked on. Sarpaneva says that his moons have an 80% failure rate so the time put into creating each one of the moons was definitely substantial.
The heads-up time display used here first appeared five years ago in the HM5 “On the Road Again,” which made subsequent appearances in 2015’s HMX and in the 2016 “Can-Am” HM8. The MoonMachine 2 has evolved directly from the “Can-Am” and uses the same base Girard-Perregaux caliber. Its design is sleeked back and meant to emulate the style of Pan-Am racecars. Other automotive references include the titanium roll bars around the crown and “oil sumps” visible through the sapphire crystal panes underneath the watch.
The MB&F team — including founder Max Büsser — had wanted to work with Sarpaneva again ever since the release of the first MoonMachine in 2012, when the Helsinki-based watchmaker had the idea of placing the moon phase display between the hours and minutes using an optical display, however, it wasn’t until the HM8 was released that this could be possible.
The MoonMachine 2 is available in three limited editions of 12 timepieces each, one in full titanium with white gold moons and a light blue sky, one in blackened titanium with white gold moons and a dark blue sky, and one in red gold and titanium with red gold moons and an anthracite sky.