The biennial Only Watch auction, widely recognized as the world’s most high-pro le charity watch event, returns in 2017. For the fourth time, MB&F is contributing a unique edition of one of their Machines to Only Watch, to be sold in aid of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder characterised by progressive muscle degeneration primarily affecting young boys.
The base of this pièce unique is Horological Machine N°8, an automotive-inspired creation that takes design cues from the legendary high-octane Can-Am race. Engraved and metallized on the sapphire crystal pane that surmounts the HM8 engine is a whimsical drawing created by 15-year-old Cassandra Legendre. A student currently living in Madrid, Legendre’s primary method of artistic expression is ballet, but she also produces remarkable drawings in her spare time. As an exception for MB&F’s contribution to Only Watch, Legendre and her family agreed to this one-off participation to strengthen the message of HM8 Only Watch — a child creating something to help children who have been denied many of the dreams and opportunities of childhood.
Both intricate and simple, an approach that perfectly matches MB&F’s sophisticated yet direct approach to watchmaking, the illustration captures childhood objects of joy in a continuously drawn frame. Despite being in her mid-teens, Legendre possesses the rare touch of communicating the perspectives of someone much younger, perspectives that still retain much of the innocence and whimsy that we lose as we grow up. Look closely at the drawing and you can spot a robot, a jet plane, a toy car and a jelly sh, visual touchstones that originate in the life and creations of MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser, and resonate with children everywhere. There are also elements of pure childlike delight, such as the ice-cream cone, football, sunglasses and video game controller.
These are items that evoke histories both personal and universal, which every MB&F creation taps into with its design and message. The motif of unity and connectedness is further brought out in the journey of Cassandra Legendre’s art from initial sketch to its final form on HM8 Only Watch. According to Legendre, the drawing started out as something to keep her occupied during a dull mathematics lesson — a familiar youthful experience for many of us! — and was later discovered through social media by Maximilian Büsser after her parents encouraged her to upload her art to Facebook.
One of the elements in Legendre’s drawing is given particular prominence in the HM8 Only Watch. The elephant, situated under the racing-inspired roll bar closest to the minutes disc, is reproduced in three dimensions between the optical prisms. Positioned on a tiny white-gold plinth, the micro-sculpture hand-crafted by Oliver Kuhn is a striking allusion to the majestic beast that occupies large swathes of children’s literature from Kipling to Disney. For those suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or indeed any serious health condition, the elephant’s status as an endangered animal under siege and facing an uncertain future holds particular significance and relevance. The elephant is made of white gold and took 120 hours to complete, with its trunk tucked in and ears pulled back in a peaceful pose. Particular care and attention was paid to details such as the tusks, which measure 0.2mm in diameter at their finest point, and the eyes, measuring 0.18mm in diameter.
Where previously there was a double-screwed plate engraved with the MB&F logo, the HM8 Only Watch has a white-gold disc depicting a happy face, or smiley, with the two screws now forming its eyes. It is the ultimate symbol of the childlike perspective that Legendre brings to Horological Machine N°8 Only Watch, which is also found in all those who feel aligned with the creative drive of MB&F.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Cassandra Legendre is a 15-year-old student in Madrid, Spain with mixed French and Swiss parentage. Since the age of five, she has been trained in classical ballet and is currently enrolled in Victor Ullate Escuela, founded by the dancer that Maurice Béjart called one of the most complete ballet dancers of the 20th century.
Although Legendre’s ultimate aim is to become a professional ballet dancer, her art is also a strong part of her life. Her drawings form the main part of her work and are done completely freehand in black felt pen.
Apart from drawing and ballet, Legendre is also passionate about a wide range of film genres and is particularly interested in the dialogue aspects of screenwriting.
ABOUT HOROLOGICAL MACHINE N°8
First launched in 2016 as the adrenaline-laced “Can-Am”, Horological Machine N°8 is the latest evolution of the heads-up time display that MB&F debuted five years ago with the HM5 “On the Road Again” and subsequently re ned in the 2015 HMX.
The HM8 engine is a compact, in-house developed movement built on a Girard-Perregaux base, with a jumping hour disc and a running minutes disc. Optical prisms fixed over the discs at specific points capture the time, refracting and magnifying the numerals so they can be read on a vertical plane. Horological Machine N°8 is completely pared down in terms of exterior cladding, not just to emulate the bare- all aesthetic of Can-Am race cars, but also to allow as much light as possible to flood the prisms and maximise the clarity of display.
Additional references to the source material include the slender titanium roll bars flanking the crown, sweeping forwards to anchor the time display cylinder. Motoring enthusiasts will immediately recognize the “oil sumps” visible through the sapphire crystal panes on the underside of HM8.
Established in 2005 and organized by the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies under the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Only Watch is a biennial auction specializing in one-of-a-kind timepieces. The funds raised go towards research in treating and curing neuromuscular diseases, in particular, Duchenne muscular dystrophy. To date, the auction has raised over EUR 25 million, over six editions.
The 2017 edition of Only Watch will be held in Geneva, the second year that the city is hosting the auction. The collection of watches up for auction will embark on a world tour, beginning with a showcase at the Monaco Yacht Show (27–30 September 2017) before traveling through Asia, the Middle East, the United States and finally back to Europe.
Thematically, the watches to be featured in Only Watch 2017 will have a pronounced emphasis on brand collaborations with external personalities, such as sports ambassadors or artists. This highlights the importance of valuable interdisciplinary exchange and partnership in the advancement of medical research.
Only Watch 2017 will take place on Saturday 11 November and welcomes for the first time the experience and expertise of auction house Christie’s in presenting the world’s premier watchmaking charity event.
When he was young, MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser dreamt of becoming a car designer, but that wasn’t an option and he ended up designing watches instead. Or did he? It wouldn’t take much to scale HM8 up to car size, drop a 1,000+ horsepower motor under the hood and put a set of slick racing tires under the chassis. While visually it is those polished roll bars linking HM8 to the Can-Am supercars, it’s the rebellious spirit of working outside restrictive rules that really provided the inspiration for HM8.
CASE, ROLL BARS, AND CRYSTALS
The complete top of the HM8 case is one piece of sapphire crystal with sections of the crystal metallized to create a bluish border. The roll bars are in grade 5 titanium, which has the desired qualities of being light in weight and high in strength. Titanium cannot be bent easily into the desired long curve, which means that each roll bar has to be milled from a solid block of titanium Ti-6Al-4V; significantly stronger than commercially pure titanium and boasting a unique combination of lightness, strength, and resistance to corrosion.
ENGINE, INDICATIONS AND REFLECTIVE PRISMS
HM8 is powered by an in-house developed bi-directional jumping hour and trailing minute indication module, on a Girard-Perregaux base movement. The movement is inverted to put the winding rotor on top and modified to drive the prism indicator module. The power reserve is 42 hours.
The bi-directional jumping hour and trailing minute displays on HM8 are materialized by overlapping discs rotating horizontally on top of the movement, yet the time indications are displayed vertically in a ‘dashboard’ at the front of the case. To achieve this, MB&F worked with a high-precision optical glass supplier to develop reflective sapphire crystal prisms that reflect light from the discs 90°, and also magnify the indications by 20%.
Sapphire crystal is much more dif cult to work to optical precision than glass, and it took considerable development and meticulous care in production to create crystals that re ect and magnify light without the slightest distortion. The vertical, forward-facing display makes HM8 Can-Am an excel- lent driver’s watch, as there is no need to lift your wrist from the steering wheel to read the display.
In the 1960s, Formula One car racing was mainly European and very regimented, with tight rules designed to slow cars down. A few North American racers balked at the restric- tions and decided to create their own racing series, the Cana- dian-American Challenge Cup (known as the Can-Am). The series launched many of the greatest names in car racing, including Lola and McLaren. The Can-Am basically had no rules except to go fast!
The Canadian-American Challenge Cup was a Group 7 SCCA/ CASC sports car racing series running from 1966 to 1987, with two races in Canada and four in the USA each season. Because the class permitted virtually “anything goes” in terms of engine size, power and aerodynamics, the Can-Am was a hotbed of technical innovation. At its peak, Can-Am cars had the most advanced racing technology in the world, and with 1,000 horsepower, Can-Am cars lapped some tracks faster than F1 cars. Chrome roll bars ensured the driver’s safety if all of that power were to suddenly turn upside down.