On the Road Again: MB&F HM5


The HM5 looks simple but it's a complicated engineering marvel

Say hello to our newest little friend from our friends at Swiss watchmaking outfit MB&F, the Horological Machine No.5 On the Road Again. Called the HM5 by those in the know, this newest machine of loving time is yet another successful leap of the imagination by watchmaking impresario Maximilian Busser (the MB of MB&F). At first glance, you will see that the watch displays hours and minutes via rotating discs, thus giving the watch mechanically generated digital displays of time. The pictures though tell only part of the story.

What caught our eye this time, aside from the clear design references to the 1970s, is the fact that the case of the HM5 is not water resistant, the movement is. Take a minute to process that. Imagine for a moment that your car engine could imperiously shake off flooding and you have some idea of what is going on here. If the first thought that came to mind was The Spy Who Loved Me, then you have some insight into Busser’s creative process.

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The steel chassis of the HM5 gives the watch its water resistance of 30 meters

Well, to be fair, HM5 has a very specific muse and raison d’etre, the Amida Digitrend watch. A watch that displayed hours and minutes via a digital display but with a mechanical movement, Busser had one in his private collection and wanted to see if he could make the idea work in the 21st century. In fact, Busser says the HM5 is an homage to the Digitrend; he says this in person as well as in the MB&F press release for the HM5. This makes the HM5 the first true homage the brand has ever done, among the many firsts this watch chalks up.

As far as we can tell, the HM5 is the first wristwatch to be built with a chassis, with body attached, much like a car. It is also likely to be the first watch built with manually activated flaps that expose the chassis, which protects the movement. At the back of the case, there are also two ‘valves’, which act as a drainage system for any water that gets into the case. The watch comes with a rubber strap – another first for MB&F – so Busser suggests that people may want to take HM5 to the water; the water resistance of the chassis is 30 meters so one should not engage in water sports of any kind while wearing the HM5.

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Max Busser wearing the HM5. Note the toy car he is holding and the design cues shared between both objects

Finally, a word about the movement: the base is from the Sowind Group, which includes Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard. This of course explains the presence of Stefano Macaluso as one of the Friends who helped build the HM5. The technical wizardry that results in the unusual display of time though is the work of Jean-Francois Mojon and Vincent Boucard of Chronode. In time we may devote more space to the watch, when we get pictures of the cars that inspired it and also that Amida Digitrend. In the meantime, take note that HM5 is limited to 66 pieces worldwide that should be on the way to retailers by the start of 2013, at the latest.

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The familiar double battle axe rotor marks this as an MB&F

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We were amazed to learn that the discs with the numerals are actually tinted glass

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The flaps on the case are controlled by the tear-drop shaped 'switch'

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The dimensions of the HM5 are 51.5mm X 49mm X 22.5mm

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The external case is in zirconium while the internal chassis is in steel

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Max Busser with a prototype of HM5 explaining a point during lunch in Singapore


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