Having captivated the world with its soaring tourbillon and perfect symmetries over the last two years, the jellyfish-inspired HM7 Aquapod emerges from the depths for a new outing in 2019, this time in the most precious of metals and an arresting new shade – along with three-dimensional, “floating” hour and minute numerals.
Platinum, which sits at the apex of the hierarchy of noble watchmaking materials, makes its debut in HM7, its bright silvery-white hue an emphatic counterpoint to the vividly crimson unidirectional rotating bezel. Used for the first time in any MB&F creation, red is not a colour that immediately comes to mind when thinking of marine life — but it has a very particular significance when it comes to the jellyfish.
The deeper you go in the ocean, the less colour you see. Red is the first colour to disappear, being on the lowest end of the visible light spectrum and thus most easily absorbed by water. This is why you find a higher concentration of red sea creatures in the deepest waters — being red makes them almost invisible to predators. Deep-sea jellyfish often have red stomachs as a form of protective camouflage, as their transparent bodies would otherwise allow predators to spot them via their stomach contents.
HM7 Aquapod Platinum Red comes from the deepest recesses of the horological ocean, with free-floating numerical appendages and unprecedented transparency surrounding its beating heart: a 60-second flying tourbillon.
Unlike previous incarnations of Aquapod, which indicated the hours and minutes via rotating rings with transferred numerals, HM7 Platinum Red features three-dimensional numerals sculpted in titanium. The metal was specifically selected for its lightness, in order to have as little additional marginal load on the engine as possible. However, this mechanical advantage came at a cost, since titanium is exponentially denser and stronger (which is to say, harder to machine) than the aluminium that made up the time-indication rings on previous Aquapod versions.
The stems attaching the hour and minute numerals to their respective mounting rings are rendered black with a coating of DLC (diamond-like carbon), completing the ethereal floating effect that one associates with the sight of a jellyfish drifting with the ocean currents.
One of the most startling visual aspects of a jellyfish, almost alien in how far it is from the mammalian systems with which we are familiar, is its transparency. How can something so diaphanous and seemingly insubstantial be alive? HM7 Platinum Red homes in on this point, replacing the battle-axe tourbillon bridge of previous Aquapod versions with a clear sapphire component. The flying tourbillon of the HM7 engine is revealed like never before, highlighted by a halo of high-luminosity AGT.
Because, of course, HM7 Platinum Red is aglow with luminescence, just as any fascinating creature of the deep should be. Apart from the AGT ring surrounding the flying tourbillon, luminous material is found in the laser-engraved markings of the unidirectional rotating bezel and on the surface of the hour and minute numerals. These are untinted Super-LumiNova, which fluoresce white after exposure to light.
The self-winding, 391-component engine of HM7 Platinum Red was developed entirely in-house at MB&F. Fitted with a platinum case, bezel and buckle, HM7 Platinum Red will be made in a limited series of 25 pieces, each presented with three interchangeable straps (red, white and black) in aircraft-grade rubber.
HM7 AQUAPOD IN DETAIL
The idea for an aquatic watch originated from MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser’s memories of family beach holidays, which included an encounter with a jellyfish. While the encounter may have been minor, the seed it planted in Büsser’s brain for a three-dimensional timepiece powered by tentacles was anything but. And even though the concept for Horological Machine N°7 came relatively quickly, the development took many years.
Whereas the majority of watch movements are constructed on a lateral plane to be as flat as possible, the HM7 engine goes up, not out, with all of its components arranged vertically. The movement of HM7 was entirely developed in-house by MB&F.
From bottom to top, the winding rotor, mainspring barrel, hour and minute indications, and 60-second flying tourbillon are all concentrically mounted around the central axis. Energy travels from the rotor at the very bottom of the movement to the flying tourbillon at the very top via staggered gearing that allows mainspring torque to be transmitted from one level to the next.
This concentric architecture allows for the hours and minutes to be displayed around the periphery of the movement. However, the concurrent problem arose of how to meet the energy requirements of a large-diameter time-display mechanism without negatively affecting the chronometric performance of the engine. The answer was to develop extra-large ceramic ball bearings, to support the hour and minute displays and rotate with a very low friction coefficient. The time-indication rings are machined from titanium to minimise mass while maximising rigidity.
Hours and minutes are displayed by two rings bearing three-dimensional massive numerals machined in titanium, giving a floating appearance by the use of DLC-coated stem attachments.
A mix of mirror polish and sandblasting is used to optimise legibility and create visually distinct shapes that are large enough to easily read but still small enough to remain within the weight-bearing capabilities of the engine torque.
The surfaces of the numerals and markers are filled with untinted Super-LumiNova, making them highly legible even by night.
In order to create the illusion that the numerals are floating above the engine and rotating around the tourbillon by mysterious means, the numerals are hand-painted with protective varnish before the entire component is subjected to a treatment that coats the unvarnished surfaces in DLC (diamond-like carbon). With the support structure thus darkened, the hour and minute numerals seem to hover above the engine with no readily visible means of mechanical support.
The case of HM7 Aquapod is basically a three-dimensional sandwich comprising two hemispheres of high-domed sapphire crystal on either side of a metal case band. The unidirectional bezel floats outside the case proper, while dual crowns are located between the two structures: the one on the left is for winding the movement (if necessary) and the crown on the right is for setting the time. The large crowns are ergonomically designed for ease of use.
The bezel begins as a ring of sapphire crystal, which is then laser engraved from the underside with numerals and markers. The resulting cavities are then filled with Super-LumiNova. Following that, a bright red lacquer is applied to the underside of the sapphire-crystal ring. The sapphire crystal ring is then fixed onto the platinum bezel, to be attached to the case.
HM7 AQUAPOD TECHNICAL DETAILS
Limited edition: Platinum 950 with red sapphire crystal bezel (25 pieces)
Three-dimensional vertical architecture, automatic winding, conceived and developed in-house by MB&F
Central flying 60-second tourbillon, with sapphire balance bridge
Power reserve: 72 hours
Balance frequency: 2.5 Hz / 18,000 bph
Three-dimensional winding rotor in titanium and platinum
Number of components: 391
Number of jewels: 35
Hours and minutes displayed by two grade 5 titanum discs whit flying numbers, turning on oversized ceramic central bearings
Unidirectional rotating bezel for elapsed time
Numerals, markers and segments along the winding rotor in Super-LumiNova
A round segment from AGT Ultra technology (Ambiant Glow Technology) surrounds the flying tourbillon
Two crowns: winding on left and time-setting on right
Material: Platinum 950
Dimensions: 53.8 mm x 21.3 mm
Number of components: 83
Water resistance: 50 m / 150 feet / 5 atm
Top and bottom sapphire crystals treated with anti-reflective coating on both faces
Strap & buckle
Rubber bracelet moulded in aircraft-grade Fluorocarbon FKM 70 Shore A elastomer, delivered in 3 colours, red, black and white, with folding buckle in platinum.
‘FRIENDS’ RESPONSIBLE FOR HM7 AQUAPOD
Concept: Maximilian Büsser / MB&F
Design: Eric Giroud / Through the Looking Glass
Technical and production management: Serge Kriknoff / MB&F
R&D: Ruben Martinez and Simon Brette / MB&F
Movement development: Ruben Martinez / MB&F
Case: Damien FERNIER / LAB
Sapphire crystals: Sebal
Sapphire tourbillon bridge: M. Stoller / Novocristal
Precision turning of wheels, pinions and axes: Rodrigue Baume / DMP, Paul-André Tendon / BANDI, AZUREA, ATOKLAPA, GIMMEL ROUAGES
Springs: Alain Pellet / Elefil Swiss
Wheels: Patrice Parietti / MPS Micro Precision Systems
Titanium rotor: Marc Bolis / 2B8 SARL
Plates and bridges: Rodrigue Baume / HORLOFAB and Benjamin Signoud / AMECAP
Mystery winding rotor in titanium/platinum: Roderich Hess / Cendres et métaux
Hand-finishing of movement components: Jacques-Adrien Rochat and Denis Garcia / C.-L. Rochat
Movement assembly: Didier Dumas, Georges Veisy, Anne Guiter, Emmanuel Maitre and Henri Porteboeuf / MB&F
In-house machining: Alain Lemarchand and Jean-Baptiste Prétot / MB&F
Quality control: Cyril Fallet / MB&F
After-Sales Service: Thomas Imberti / MB&F
Buckle: Dominique Mainier / G&F Châtelain / Roderich Hess / Cendres et métaux
Crowns: Cheval Frères SA
Anti-refection treatment for sapphire crystals: Jean-Michel Pellaton / BLOESCH
Dials (discs for hours – minutes): Emmanuel Desuzinges U-Man Horlogers, Aurora Amaral Moreira / Panova
Strap: Thierry Rognon / Valiance
Presentation box: ATS
Logistics and production: David Lamy, Isabel Ortega and Raphaël Buisine / MB&F
Marketing & Communication: Charris Yadigaroglou, Virginie Toral, Juliette Duru, Arnaud Légeret and Maëna Le Gat / MB&F
Sales: Thibault Verdonckt, Anna Rouveure and Jean-Marc Bories / MB&F
Graphic design: Samuel Pasquier / MB&F, Adrien Schulz and Gilles Bondallaz / Z+Z
Watch photography: Maarten van der Ende and Alex Teuscher
Portrait photography: Régis Golay / Federal
Webmasters: Stéphane Balet / Nord Magnétique, Victor Rodriguez and Mathias Muntz / Nimeo
Film: Marc-André Deschoux / MAD LUX
Texts: Suzanne Wong / REVOLUTION Switzerland