Ode to Sapphire

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Innovating watchmakers MB&F presents Horological Machine N°9 ‘Sapphire Vision‘, a striking rendition of its iconic HM9 ‘Flow’ timepiece.

First presented in 2018, Horological Machine N°9 – nicknamed HM9 ‘Flow’ – was a tribute to the extraordinary automotive and aeronautic designs of the 1940s and 50s. The result was a case like no other that echoed the epoch’s flowing, aerodynamic lines.

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Fast forward to today and the watchmakers have secured the model’s engine, which MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser described as “the most beautiful movement we’ve created to date”. behind sapphire crystal in the new Horological Machine N°9 ‘Sapphire Vision’ – aka HM9-SV.

Innovating watchmakers MB&F presents Horological Machine N°9 ‘Sapphire Vision', a striking rendition of its iconic HM9 'Flow' timepiece.

The new timepiece consists of an outer hull of sapphire crystal and precious metal, curved and bubbled and precisely fitted together in three parts. This hull is sealed with a proprietary combination of patented three-dimensional gasket and high-tech compound bonding process, while two fully independent cantilevered balances channel data into a differential that turns two heartbeats into one coherent time-pulse. Ultra-precise conical gears efficiently turn the engine’s energy and information current through a 90-degree angle to feed the time display on a sapphire crystal dial, marked with Super-LumiNova.

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Two years after the initial HM9 Flow ‘Air’ and ‘Road’ editions conquered land and sky, HM9-SV takes us to the depths of the ocean – the last realm on Earth that still holds a wealth of untold secrets – with a co-axial beneath each of the balances shaped like propellers that spin freely as an element of pure visual interest.

Innovating watchmakers MB&F presents Horological Machine N°9 ‘Sapphire Vision', a striking rendition of its iconic HM9 'Flow' timepiece.

Externally, the lines of HM9-SV glide over the blueprint of its Road and Air-designated predecessors. The laws of fluid dynamics remain dominant in its design, although the hydro-governed objectives allow HM9-SV to take a more lenient approach to the sharp inward angles and parabolic curves of the previous Flow versions.

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From a technical standpoint, the reworked dimensions were necessary to account for the differences in material properties of sapphire crystal; although extremely hard, sapphire can fracture sharply under pressure whereas a metal would merely deform. The smoother lines of HM9-SV minimise potential areas of mechanical vulnerability – but they also reinforce its ocean-dweller’s aesthetic.

The HM9 engine follows in the paths opened by the engines of Horological Machines N°4 and N°6, casting aside conventions of movement construction. Its three-dimensional assemblage of wheels, gears, plates and bridges takes unexpected forms to inhabit the dynamic outer case, a beating union of mechanical viscera and endoskeleton in a crystalline body.

Innovating watchmakers MB&F presents Horological Machine N°9 ‘Sapphire Vision', a striking rendition of its iconic HM9 'Flow' timepiece.

A traditional balance frequency of 2.5Hz (18,000vph) may seem curiously anachronistic in a modern timekeeper, but the sensitivity to shock associated with a lower beat rate is compensated for by having two balances instead of one. Statistically speaking, two identically calibrated systems offer a better averaged reading than one system on its own, which may deliver anomalous results for any number of reasons.

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To further reduce sensitivity to shocks, the HM9-SV editions feature a new shock-absorbing system: helicoidal springs placed between the movement and the case. The springs are crafted by laser from a solid tube of polished stainless steel, offering excellent elasticity and limited lateral displacement.

In order to seal the sapphire crystal exterior components into one watertight case, new solutions had to be created. A patented three-dimensional rubber gasket was already used in the original HM9 Flow to ensure water resistance when the tripartite case was bolted together. The 3-D gasket remains in HM9-SV, but the sapphire crystals are fused with the metallic frame thanks to a high-tech bonding compound, mastered via an in-house process involving a vacuum and high temperature. The result is a seal resistant to 3ATM (30m) of water pressure, despite practically invisible seams between the sapphire components and the minimalistic frame in 18K gold.

Innovating watchmakers MB&F presents Horological Machine N°9 ‘Sapphire Vision', a striking rendition of its iconic HM9 'Flow' timepiece.

HM9 Sapphire Vision comes in four editions, each limited to only five pieces: two editions with 18K red gold frame, combined with a NAC-coated black or a PVD-coated blue engine; and two editions with 18K white gold frame, featuring a PVD-coated purple or a red gold plated engine.

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