MB&F has announced the final edition of its celebrated Horological Machine N°6. And it means it – this really is the last one
It must be hard to stick to your guns when it throws up the very real possibility of shooting yourself in the foot.
When MB&F announced in 2014 that it would limit production of its biomorphic Horological Machine N°6 to 100 pieces, it may not have expected to shift them quite so quickly. Here we are less than five years on, and only a few of the 92 produced so far are yet to land on the wrists of end consumers, despite its bulbous aesthetic and six-figure price tag.
Could it have sold more? We’ll never know. What we do know is that MB&F is nothing if not true to its word. At the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in January, it announced the final – the very last, that really is it – edition of its Horological Machine N°6. There are just eight pieces up for grabs, and after that there will be, the brand says, no more HM6s.
Given what went before, the HM6 Final Edition is going out with a modest bang. As per the precedent set by the independent brand’s Legacy Machine N°1 Final Edition, it’s cased in utilitarian steel (rather than a precious metal, or technical materials such as titanium and sapphire crystal), a rarity among MB&F rarities that will bring collectors together for pistols at dawn.
MB&F have also adopted a more open-book policy with the design of the central dome that covers the retractable hood over its flying tourbillon, enlarging it so we can see more of the mechanism than in previous models.
And it’s added some typically colourful lume treatments in a bid to symbolise what it’s calling the watch’s ‘supernova moment’, the moment when a bright star dies. The watch’s platinum oscillating weight, which you can see through a sapphire crystal pane on the case back, has a blue PVD coating, while the numerals and markings under the hour and minute spheres are coated in light blue Super-LumiNova. It’s slated to cost $215,000.
The HM6 may be nearing the end of its life of novelty, but it won’t be forgotten in a hurry. While MB&F’s collection is definitively esoteric, HM6 has taken on the feel of a company signature, rivalled only by pieces such as HM3 and HM4, and by the domed Legacy Machine with its dramatically suspended flying balances.
Even the story behind it has a joyful quirk. Its four biomorphic (using forms derived from living organisms) spheres, two telling the time and two housing spherical turbines that regulate the automatic winding system, and central dome (or ‘transparent cupola’ as the brand so wonderfully describes it) were inspired by a 1970s Japanese anime TV series called ‘Captain Future’, whose spaceship Comet consisted of two spheres connected by a tube. As the brand likes to say, ‘a creative adult is a child who survived’.
In just over four years, there have been five limited editions and, memorably, the four unique pieces of 2017 that were dubbed HM6 Alien Nation. Each had a sapphire case, bright blue luminescent details, and carried six micro-sculpted alien hominids under its domes.
HM6 might be moving into retirement, but it leaves a spectacular legacy.