Collecting History: MB&F Horological Machine #4 (HM4)
Collecting History, Cool Stuff, Uncategorized

Collecting History: MB&F Horological Machine #4 (HM4)

I started and run MB&F North America.  That means I am responsible for basically anything you see here in the US – from a watch in a showcase to an article in a magazine.  So when I say that the MB&F HM4 is my favorite watch that I have owned, I don’t blame you for thinking I am biased.
However, those who know me know that I am, indeed, biased.  I truly believe MB&F are making the most interesting and best watches in the world and that is why I am involved with them in the first place.  I certainly had no need or desire to work in the watch industry otherwise.  I was a watch collector long before I started with MB&F, and it is the knowledge that I gained through my collecting (much of which I have shared in this series) that makes me comfortable representing this company and buying pieces like this with my own money.

Yesterday I talked about how URWERK ushered in a new genre of post-quartz watches.  MB&F, particularly with HM4 has taken that and moved it forward.  The piece expands the limits of possibility.  For me, it brings me back to my childhood.  I would design cars in my head and could not figure out why no real car company would ever make something as cool.  It would use the best possible materials of the time, have 800 horsepower, all the newest technologies, basically be a Formula 1 car with two seats and a beautiful interior.  Why didn’t anyone make that car?  Well I can only assume the practical realities of sales and production got in the way.

HM4 has no compromises.  Whereas other watches could be seen as sculptures, even the movement of this watch has been wholly conceived as a sculpture of its own.

The case shows no compromises.  An incredibly complex shape to manufacture, the back portion is a milled solid block of titanium taking 50+ hours, and the center sapphire section takes nearly 200 hours to machine!

There is a reason that few, if any, watches deviate from the norm so much and require so many complex production techniques: it is fantastically difficult to pull off, incredibly expensive, and unimaginably risky.  And that is why this is my favorite watch.

I know the team behind it very well.  They have pushed themselves to the max (pun sort of intended) and put their lives on the line, at least professionally, to create a sculpture that they truly believe in.  That is why I love watchmaking, and, in the end, why these little micro machines which serve no necessary purpose have a true, lasting value.

Looking back on this era, I believe this will be one of the most important pieces.  There is no better example of what a watch can be if you free yourself from the need to copy what has come before.  Watch as art.

I hope you have enjoyed this series.  My goal was to give a look inside the mind of a watch collector, and also to document the history of a golden era in watchmaking which is still unfolding.  While they may seem trivial, these watches have actually changed my life and the way I think.  They have also led me to meet many fantastic people, and for that I am grateful to all of these brands and creators.