One of the most buzz-worthy timepieces introduced at last week’s SIHH comes from the boundary-pushing indie brand MB&F. The new MB&F Horological Machine No. 7, nicknamed “Aquapod,” combines a radially symmetric design inspired by a jellyfish with a flying tourbillon and some elements of a classical divers’ watch. Here’s what you need to know about it.
The MB&F HM7 “Aquapod” (actually the eighth of MB&F’s “Horological Machines to be released; the HM8 “Can Am” was completed first and debuted last year) draws its design inspiration from brand founder Max Büsser’s encounter with a jellyfish during a family beach holiday. The watch’s three-dimensional movement architecture, while very avant-garde compared to most of today’s flat, horizontal versions, actually has its roots in the “onion” pocketwatches popular in the 18th century. Developed entirely in-house by a talented team of “Friends” (MB&F stands for “Max Büsser & Friends”), the movement of the HM7 features a winding rotor, mainspring barrel, hour and minute indicators, and flying tourbillon, all concentrically mounted around a central axis and rotating concentrically around it. Energy generated by the tentacle-like rotor at the bottom travels up to the tourbillon regulator at the top via a series of gears that allow the power to transition from level to level in the manner of climbing stairs.
The three-dimensional rotor is crafted from a solid block of titanium, with a heavy platinum mass underneath the tentacles to ensure powerful winding. The tourbillon regulator, positioned as the “hood” that protects the ring of neurons that serves as the jellyfish’s brain, is surrounded by the hours and minutes displays, on two concentric, spherical segment disks, made of aluminum and titanium, supported by extra-large ceramic ball bearings and rotating with a very low coefficient of friction. all in all, the movement contains 303 components and holds a 72-hour power reserve.
While the brand is quick to point out that the Aquapod is not a true diver’s watch — as it does not meet the required ISO standards with its relatively modest water-resistance of 50 meters— it does incorporate one of the signature elements that divers’ watches possess: namely a unidirectional rotating bezel with a diving scale, here made of polished ceramic with laser-engraved, metallized-titanium-filled numerals and indices. Unlike with traditional watches, however, the bezel is not attached to the case but floats apart from it like a life buoy.
The case — which measures 53.8 mm in diameter and 21.3 mm thick — has been described by MB&F as a “three-dimensional sandwich, with two hemispheres of high-domed sapphire crystal on either side of a metal case band.” The crown on the left is to wind the movement, while the crown on the right is used to set the time. Both crowns are ergonomically designed to be operated by gloved or wet fingers if necessary.
Also like a real jellyfish, the HM7 Aquapod glows in the dark to announce its presence. In addition to the hour and minute numerals and indices — which are hand-painted on the curved disks in Super-LumiNova, a blue glow is also emitted from inside the movement — illuminating the flying tourbillon at the top of the watch and the tentacled rotor, whose curved protrusions feature alternating satin-finished and polished surfaces. This glow is achieved through the use of three panels of AGT Ultra (Ambient Glow Technology) lume applied to the inside of the movement.
The MB&F HM7 “Aquapod” will be available in a grade 5 titanium case with blue ceramic bezel (pictured) or in an 18k 5n rose gold case with black ceramic bezel. Both watches come on black, engraved aircraft-grade rubber straps (with a tentacle-like pattern on the underside) to complete the sporty ensemble. Prices are $98,000 for the titanium-cased version, which is limited to 33 pieces, and $118,000 for the rose-gold model, which is limited to 66 pieces. Scroll down to see some live photos of the Aquapod snapped at SIHH 2017.