Just released by MB&F is one of the most innovative and creatively novel watches seen in recent years with the new Horological Machine Nº11 Architect. Inspired by founder Maximilian Büsser’s love for experimental architecture from the 1960s, the HM11 reimagines the watch case as a house albeit one with with the signature MB&F twist. Directly influenced by the Brenton House designed by Charles Haertling, the HM11 Architect is an unexpected release from a brand that was almost starting to feel predictable.
The HM11 is built around a central tourbillon which serves as the heart and foundation of the “home” that is flanked by four parabolic “rooms” that can rotate in either direction. Each 45° rotation of the case shifts one of the four functional dials or plates (aka hallways) in a new direction with clockwise rotations also serving to wind the watch. Each of these rotations also winds the watch for 72 minutes with 10 rotations winding it to the full 96-hour power reserve. These four sections are done in curved polished titanium with sapphire crystal “window” panes while the central tourbillon is housed under a curved sapphire crystal dome. Note the quatrefoil-shaped upper bridge that is inspired by clerestory windows.
The first room tells the time in hours and minutes via rod-mounted orbs which serve as hour markers and red-tipped arrows serving as hour and minutes hands. Moving 90° to the left accesses the power reserve display which echoes the rod-mounted orbs and red-tipped arrow design language. The five orbs increase in diameter with the final polished aluminum orb designating a fully wound 96 hours. Another 90° rotation shows a room with a truly unusual function of a thermometer. Not taking up any of the movement’s energy, buyers of the HM11 have the option to have the thermometer in either Celsius of Fahrenheit. Note this thermometer tells the temperature outside not that of the wearer. Finally, another 90° rotation shows the MB&F motif set into sapphire crystal. Pulling on this allows you to set the time on the HM11.
The light weight and generally compact proportions of the HM11 case are really quite impressive. The lower half of the case is done in all grade-5 titanium while the upper caps are separately machined and actually can only be affixed once the movement is put in place. This is an ingenious method of case construction but also one that takes a significant amount of time to produce and Büsser points out that it takes a week to complete each case.
The see-through crown is an impressive feat as well, measuring nearly 10mm in diameter. The fact that most gaskets measure 2mm in diameter presented a challenge here. While a much larger gasket would be completely unfeasible, MB&F instead decided to use two sets of gaskets. One of these gaskets creates a seal to stop dust from entering via the sapphire crystal window while another smaller gasket is located closer to the center of the movement and creates a watertight seal. In total there are 19 gaskets used on the case of the HM11 ensuring 20m of water resistance.
That a watch this elaborate and multi-faceted measures 42mm wide and 23mm thick is remarkable and makes for an absolute delight to wear. The MB&F HM11 Architect comes in two variants, with with plates and bridges done in PVD coating of either ozone blue or 5N gold with 25 pieces of each. While the blue may prove to be slightly more popular, the red gold version is absolutely stunning as well. One of the most horologically impressive and creatively uninhibited watches I have seen in recent memory, the MB&F HM11 Architect is priced at a very reasonable $230,000.
To learn more, visit MB&F, here.