Swiss luxury watch brand MB&F in association with Finnish watchmaker Stepan Sarpaneva unveils MOONMACHINE, the latest horology machine that features a very special moon phase indication. This is the first of the MB&F Performance Art pieces by a watchmaker and the first to endow a Machine with a new complication. Performance Art pieces are where MB&F offers a timepiece to an outside creator who modifies the Machine according to their taste. For this model, Stepan has taken a specially configured HM3 Frog and transformed it with his iconic moon-face moon-phase indicator set in a scintillating firmament of northern stars.
Before launching his own brand Sarpaneva Watches in 2003, Stepan Sarpaneva worked with some of the most prestigious Swiss brands including Piaget, Parmigiani – where he worked alongside Kari Voutilainen – Vianney Halter and Christophe Claret.
His three signature themes are all celestial: his very distinctive moon face; the northern stars and constellations; and the crenellated form of his Korona case – the korona/corona is the plasma atmosphere of the Sun – and all three have been incorporated in MOONMACHINE. Sarpaneva’s two moon faces indicate the phase of the moon through a Korona shaped aperture, while the mystery winding rotor is actually steel and 22k gold disc with laser-pierced stars forming stars and constellations visible in the northern sky.
The Frog was chosen as the MOONMACHINE platform because the large visible movement opening in the dial side provides space for the watchmaker to play and the bulbous indication domes of the Frog are reminiscent of how science fiction buffs have long imagined habitable domes on the Moon.
The Frog differs substantially from HM3 in that it is the aluminium domes that rotate under the sapphire crystals in the Frog, whereas it is the hour and minute hands that rotate around their respective stationary cones on HM3. And this is no ordinary HM3 Frog – if such a thing can be said to exist – the domes of the MOONMACHINE are unique in that they are perpendicular, rather than parallel, to the wrist.
Rotating the large indicator domes posed a number of technical challenges. The domes are machined from solid aluminium to a paper-thin wall thickness of just 0.28 mm to reduce energy requirements to an absolute minimum. The semi-spherical sapphire crystal domes have to be meticulously machined and polished as the slightest imperfection might create disconcerting magnification effects. And the Frog’s unusual method of indicating time necessitated the development of a new gear train for the HM3 engine as the aluminium hour dome of the Frog rotates in 12 hours compared to the 24-hour revolution of the HM3 hour hand.
MOONMACHINE may portray the time in a playful manner, but there is nothing but serious and meticulous attention to detail and care regarding the fine hand-finishing of the high-tuned engine purring within.
The multi-layered northern sky rotor adds a stunning background to the twin hand-finished moon faces. It also both disguises the potentially distracting HM3 gold winding rotor and makes use of its motion to add vivacity to the moving stars. The stars are laser-pierced allowing light to reflect from the movement underneath and are not simply placed at random: They form the seven brightest stars in Ursa Major, more commonly known as the Big Dipper/Big Plough/Big Bear, plus the seven brightest stars of Ursa Minor, more commonly known as the Little Dipper/Little Bear, which includes Polaris, the North star.
And in a detail watchmakers will appreciate, one of the stars is strategically positioned to allow access for a servicing tool. The turning star-filled night sky of the rotor not only brings metaphoric life to the MOONMACHINE, but also literally provides life as it generates the power for both the functioning of the moon complication and the movement. The iconic MB&F battle-axe sits in pride-of-place between the two moon faces at the axis of the rotor.
MOONMACHINE is available in three limited editions of 18 pieces each: titanium case with white gold moon faces in a light blue sky, black titanium case with white gold moon faces in a dark blue sky and red gold case with red gold moon faces in an anthracite sky.
Three-dimensional horological engine designed by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht/Agenhor;
Powered by a Girard-Perregaux base, modified by Stepan Sarpaneva
Balance oscillating at 28,800 bph.
DLC coated and star-pieced steel and 22k gold automatic winding rotor
Hour and minutes information transmitted via ceramic ball bearings to rotating domes.
Number of jewels: 36 (all functional)
Number of components: 319
Hour on one dome (aluminium dome rotating in 12 hours)
Minutes on second dome (aluminium dome rotating in 60 minutes)
Moon phase displayed by dual moons rotating under a Korona ring
Natural titanium case, white gold moon faces, light blue sky, limited edition of 18 pieces Black titanium case, white gold moon faces, dark blue sky, limited edition of 18 pieces
Red gold case, red gold moon faces, anthracite sky, limited edition of 18 pieces
Indication domes configured perpendicular to wrist.
Dimensions (exclusive of crown and lugs): 47mm x 50mm x 19mm
Number of case components: 55
Sapphire crystals:Domes and both display backs with anti-reflective treatment on both faces.
Rotating aluminium domes – 0.58g,
Performance Art Pieces (2009 – 2012)
Performance Art pieces are where MB&F offers a timepiece to an outside creator who modifies the Machine according to their taste. Total five exclusive models are born from this masterpiece line including the latest MOONMACHINE by Stepan Sarpaneva.
2009: American artist Sage Vaughn made a powerful statement when he imprisoned a butterfly in gold barbed-wire on HM2 for Only Watch 2009
2009: French watch designer Alain Silberstein created the strikingly minimalistic HM2.2 Black Box.
2010: French Jeweller Boucheron created the stunning JWLRYMACHINE by transforming HM3 into a colourfully bejewelled owl.
2011: Chinese artist Huang Hankang enabled children’s dreams to soar free with HM4 piloted by a flying panda for Only Watch 2011.
2012: Finnish watchmaker Stepan Sarpaneva endows HM3 Frog with his passion for the Moon and the stars in the MOONMACHINE.