The MB&F Horological Machine No.2 (HM2) is a holistically conceived and engineered three-dimensional timekeeping machine for the wrist. The functions and indications were specifically conceived to tailor to the strengths of HM2’s chief watchmaker, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. The bespoke architecture of the highly technical movement was developed to both fit and complement the radical form of the modular case.
HM2 is the world’s first mechanical movement offering: Instantaneous Jump Hour, Concentric Retrograde Minutes, Retrograde Date, Bi-Hemisphere Moon Phase and Automatic Winding. With over 450 components making up its case and movement HM2 is an incredible sophisticated machine; however, its complexity has been engineered for simple and trouble free functionality.
The movement features an extremely energy efficient Jump Hour/Retrograde mechanism developed by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. Wiederrecht’s exclusive (and patented) asymmetrical-tooth gear wheels ensure high precision and play-free functionality.
The realisation of HM2’s complex case shape – with its architectural volume, bold flying buttresses, bolted portholes and sliding crown guard – was only made possible by using an innovative modular approach: a method inspired by the Meccano sets of Maximilian Büsser’s childhood. Horological Machine No.2 is full of dynamic tension between apparently incongruous elements. Tension between cutting-edge technology and sculptural art, matte textures and mirror-polishes, high-tech alloys and precious metals and tension between traditional watchmaking and 21st century micro-engineering. This vibrant tension is amplified by the interplay of light and colour off the varied finishes, textures and shapes, and gives the machine its pulsing vitality.
Inspiration and Realization
MB&F is first and foremost about people and the key person behind Horological Machine No.2 is Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. It was 9 years ago, in Maximilian Büsser’s former position as Managing Director of Harry Winston Timepieces, that Büsser first began working with Wiederrecht and found him to be imaginative, inventive and sharing in the same human values. Wiederrecht and his company Agenhor are world leaders in Retrograde and Jumping Hour mechanisms and Büsser conceived HM2’s functions specifically to play to these strengths.
In true MB&F style, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and Agenhor constructor Maximilien Di Blasi worked hand in hand with erstwhile competitor Patrick Lété of Les Artisans Horlogers in ensuring that the architecture of the movement fitted coherently and holistically with the iconoclastic case. The case, with its flying buttresses, bolted portholes and sliding crown guard, was so complex – over 100 components go into its construction alone – that it could only be developed with an innovative modular method inspired by the Meccano sets of Maximilian Büsser’s childhood. And in line with best engineering principles, this modularity also simplifies future refurbishment of the case should it ever be necessary.
Horological Machine No.2 is full of the tension caused by apparently incongruous elements co-existing side by side. There is tension between cutting-edge technology and sculptural art; tension between matte textures and mirror-polishes; tension between high-tech alloys and precious metals, and tension between traditional watchmaking and 21st century micro-engineering. Balancing all of this tension is an extremely risky endeavour, the slightest error and the complete design falls flat. However, in getting the delicate balance of tension ‘just right’, MB&F have managed to bring HM2 alive.
While Horological Machine No.2 is a high-tech machine of the 21st century, the quality and hand execution of the fine finishing is a showcase of the very best in traditional craftsmanship. Light flashing off hand finished mirror-polished surfaces and immaculate bevelling brings vivacity to the rich combination of colours, materials, shapes and textures.
The principle technical challenge in developing the movement was ensuring that the jumping hour functioned both instantaneously and simultaneously when the retrograde minute flies back from 60 to 0. And not only instantaneously, but also without using excessive energy. The usual method of activating Jumping Hour indications is to store energy in the minutes before the change to power the jump; however, while this energy is being accumulated it takes power from the balance causing it to loose amplitude – an effect detrimental to time-keeping precision.
Wiederrecht’s solution was as brilliant as it was simple: he designed a ingenious mechanism so that when the minutes fly back, a snail on the minute mechanism hits the hour star causing the hour to jump. The hour jumps instantaneously with the minutes because it is triggered by the minutes and, as the jump is powered by the energy of the minutes flying back, it has virtually no effect on the amplitude of the balance.
While the complications and functionality operate with maximum efficiency, with 349 components in the movement alone, there are no doubting HM2’s credentials as an incredibly technical tour de force.
The complication has another very special feature. Specific gears in HM2’s movement are manufactured to extremely high precision using Mimotec’s UV-LIGA technology. These gears mesh together with a virtually a no-tolerance/no-play engagement. Normally, gears interacting this tightly would bind; however, Wiederrecht’s patented asymmetrical-split-tooth gear design ensures this does not occur. The high precision of this gearing enables very accurate time-setting and offers high reliability. To maximise the efficiency of MB&F’s already iconic double Hakken automatic rotor, one of the 22kt gold blades was machined down to a razor sharp edge of just 0.2mm – a dimension which pushed the very limits of micro-machining! The innovative sliding crown guard clearly indicates its position (in or out) and facilitates access to time-setting and quick date correcting.
Architecture: The principal feature of Horological Machine No.2 is the holistic symbiosis between the three dimensional architecture of both the case and the movement. The sheer complexity of the case design necessitated a modular approach to construction. More than 100 components go into the assembly of the case alone – that is more parts than make up many complete movements! While extremely complex to fabricate, this bolted-not-welded engineering allows maximum flexibility in design and enables a rich variety of materials and finishes to be used.
Indications: Each of HM2’s twin portholes allows the viewer a different perspective of time. On the right, the Jumping Hours and Concentric Retrograde Minutes reveals time up close and ‘now’, while the Retrograde Date and Bi-Hemisphere Moon Phase on the left dial allows the viewer to take a step back from immediacy and relax.
Model: Horological Machine No.2
Jean-Marc Wiederrecht/Agenhor designed functionality regulated and powered by a Girard-Perregaux oscillator and gear train
Balance oscillating at 28,800 bph
22 k rose gold Double Hakken automatic winding rotor
Number of components: 349 including 44 jewels
Left dial: Retrograde Date and Bi-Hemisphere Moon Phase
Right Dial: Jumping Hours and Concentric Retrograde Minutes
18k white gold/titanium or 18k red gold/titanium
Limited edition of 125 pieces in each combination to be delivered over 3 years
Dimensions (exclusive of crown and lugs): 59mm x 38mm x 13mm
Water resistant to 30 meters (3 ATM)
Number of parts: 102 (case only)
Sapphire crystals: Dial side with anti-reflective treatment on both faces. Display back with anti-reflective treatment on single face.
Silver and ruthenium
Black hand-stitched alligator with 18 carat gold and titanium custom designed deployment buckle
Precision engineered aluminium and leather instrument case featuring an integrated Rüeger thermometer