As a watch lover, I look at the new MB&F Horological Machine N°9 ‘Sapphire Vision’ with equal measures of lust and anger. Boutique manufacturer MB&F first launched this version of its Horological Machine line in 2018 and claimed the oddly-shaped and gold-bedecked timekeeper was inspired by 1950s “aerodynamic principles.” The other Horological Machines are all designed in the same vein with sleek, jet-engine lines mixed with something that looks like C-3PO’s prostate.
This new model adds curved sapphire crystal over the entire watch, thereby exposing the innards. You read it by looking at the little window at the end of the watch and this thing literally only tells the time, albeit with a twist.
“Two fully independent cantilevered balances channel data into a differential that turns two heartbeats into one coherent time-pulse,” wrote the creators. “Ultra-precise conical gears efficiently turn the engine’s energy and information current through a 90° angle to feed the time display on a sapphire crystal dial, marked with Super-LumiNova.”
What this means in Earth-speak is that those two little wheels in the top corners flip back and forth to drive the seconds hand. The watch mechanically “averages” the movement of both, resulting in a more precise method of timekeeping. It’s a fairly unique complication—there are only a few watches and clocks in the world that use similar methods—and it’s fascinating to see them completely exposed under glass like this.
MB&F makes hugely limited editions of these pieces and they’re rarely worn and considered collector’s items. In terms of technical mastery it’s probably unparalleled in the watch world right now but in terms of sheer “WTF are you wearing,” it’s pretty rough stuff.
The watch costs a mere $440,000 and comes in red, grey, or purple. It’s water-resistant to 30 meters and it has a 45-hour power reserve so you can jump off your yacht and swim back to Malta if the SEC comes calling. MB&F thinks of everything.