For the fourth time, Swiss luxury watch brand MB&F is contributing a unique edition of one of their Machines to Only Watch, to be sold in aid of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
The base of this pièce unique is Horological Machine N°8, an automotive-inspired creation that takes design cues from the legendary high-octane Can-Am race. Engraved and metallised on the sapphire crystal pane that surmounts the HM8 engine is a whimsical drawing created by 15-year-old Cassandra Legendre. A student currently living in Madrid, Legendre’s primary method of artistic expression is ballet, but she also produces remarkable drawings in her spare time. As an exception for MB&F’s contribution to Only Watch, Legendre and her family agreed to this one-off participation to strengthen the message of HM8 Only Watch — a child creating something to help children who have been denied many of the dreams and opportunities of childhood.
Both intricate and simple, an approach that perfectly matches MB&F’s sophisticated yet direct approach to watchmaking, the illustration captures childhood objects of joy in a continuously drawn frame. Despite being in her mid-teens, Legendre possesses the rare touch of communicating the perspectives of someone much younger, perspectives that still retain much of the innocence and whimsy that we lose as we grow up. Look closely at the drawing and you can spot a robot, a jet plane, a toy car and a jellyfish, visual touchstones that originate in the life and creations of MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser, and resonate with children everywhere. There are also elements of pure childlike delight, such as the ice-cream cone, football, sunglasses and video game controller.
These are items that evoke histories both personal and universal, which every MB&F creation taps into with its design and message. The motif of unity and connectedness is further brought out in the journey of Cassandra Legendre’s art from initial sketch to its final form on HM8 Only Watch.
One of the elements in Legendre’s drawing is given particular prominence in the HM8 Only Watch. The elephant, situated under the racing-inspired roll bar closest to the minutes disc, is reproduced in three dimensions between the optical prisms. Positioned on a tiny white-gold plinth, the micro-sculpture hand-crafted by Oliver Kuhn is a striking allusion to the majestic beast that occupies large swathes of children’s literature from Kipling to Disney. For those suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or indeed any serious health condition, the elephant’s status as an endangered animal under siege and facing an uncertain future holds particular significance and relevance. The elephant is made of white gold and took 120 hours to complete, with its trunk tucked in and ears pulled back in a peaceful pose. Particular care and attention was paid to details such as the tusks, which measure 0.2mm in diameter at their finest point, and the eyes, measuring 0.18mm in diameter.
Where previously there was a double-screwed plate engraved with the MB&F logo, the HM8 Only Watch has a white-gold disc depicting a happy face, or smiley, with the two screws now forming its eyes. It is the ultimate symbol of the childlike perspective that Legendre brings to Horological Machine N°8 Only Watch, which is also found in all those who feel aligned with the creative drive of MB&F.
About The Artist
Cassandra Legendre is a 15-year-old student in Madrid, Spain with mixed French and Swiss parentage. Since the age of five, she has been trained in classical ballet and is currently enrolled in Victor UllateEscuela, founded by the dancer that Maurice Béjart called one of the most complete ballet dancers of the 20thcentury.
Although Legendre’s ultimate aim is to become a professional ballet dancer, her art is also a strong part of her life. Her drawings form the main part of her work, and are done completely freehand in black felt pen.
Apart from drawing and ballet, Legendre is also passionate about a wide range of film genres and is particularly interested in the dialogue aspects of screenwriting.
About Horological Machine N°8
First launched in 2016, Horological Machine N°8 is the latest evolution of the heads-up time display that MB&F debuted five years ago with the HM5 “On the Road Again” and subsequently refined in the 2015 HMX.
The HM8 engine is a compact, in-house developed movement built on a Girard-Perregaux base, with a jumping hour disc and a running minutes disc. Optical prisms fixed over the discs at specific points capture the time, refracting and magnifying the numerals so they can be read on a vertical plane. Horological Machine N°8 is completely pared down in terms of exterior cladding, not just to emulate the bare-all aesthetic of Can-Am race cars, but also to allow as much light as possible to flood the prisms and maximise the clarity of display.
Additional references to the source material include the slender titanium roll bars flanking the crown, sweeping forwards to anchor the time display cylinder. Motoring enthusiasts will immediately recognise the “oil sumps” visible through the sapphire crystal panes on the underside of HM8.
The complete top of the HM8 case is one piece of sapphire crystal with sections of the crystal metallised to create a bluish border. The roll bars are in grade 5 titanium, which has the desired qualities of being light in weight and high in strength. Titanium cannot be bent easily into the desired long curve, which means that each roll bar has to be milled from a solid block of titanium Ti-6Al-4V; significantly stronger than commercially pure titanium and boasting a unique combination of lightness, strength and resistance to corrosion.
HM8 is powered by an in-house developed bi-directional jumping hour and trailing minute indication module, on a Girard-Perregaux base movement. The movement is inverted to put the winding rotor on top and modified to drive the prism indicator module. The power reserve is 42 hours.
The bi-directional jumping hour and trailing minute displays on HM8 are materialised by overlapping discs rotating horizontally on top of the movement; yet the time indications are displayed vertically in a ‘dashboard’ at the front of the case. To achieve this, MB&F worked with a high-precision optical glass supplier to develop reflective sapphire crystal prisms that reflect light from the discs 90°, and also magnify the indications by 20%.
Sapphire crystal is much more difficult to work to optical precision than glass, and it took considerable development and meticulous care in production to create crystals that reflect and magnify light without the slightest distortion. The vertical, forward-facing display makes HM8 Can-Am an excellent driver’s watch, as there is no need to lift your wrist from the steering wheel to read the display.
Model: HM8 Only Watch
This pièce unique HM8 in white gold and titanium features a sapphire crystal engraved with a drawing created by 15-year old Cassandra Legendre, along with a miniature white gold elephant sculpture standing between the hours and minutes.
Three-dimensional engine conceived and developed by MB&F from a Girard-Perregaux base calibre
Automatic battle-axe winding rotor in 22k gold with purple PVD
Power reserve: 42 hours
Balance frequency: 28,800bph / 4Hz
Number of components: 251
Number of jewels: 30
Bi-directional jumping hours and trailing minutes displayed by two optical prisms that both reflect and magnify
Material: 18K white gold and grade 5 titanium
Dimensions: 49 mm x 51.5 mm x 19 mm
Number of components: 60 components
Water resistance: 30 m / 90′ / 3 atm
All sapphire crystals – front, back, top, bottom – treated with anti-reflective coating on both faces. Top plate metallised and laser engraved with a drawing.
Strap & buckle
Black hand-stitched alligator strap with white gold folding buckle.