The new MB&F HM9 Sapphire Vision bare all with full transparency and new colours The new MB&F HM9 Sapphire Vision bare all with full transparency and new colours

The new MB&F HM9 Sapphire Vision bare all with full transparency and new colours

Zach Blass
  • The MB&F HM9 Sapphire Vision initially came in four editions, each limited to only 5 pieces
  • Two new HM9-SV models now join the collection, again each limited to 5 pieces
  • One brings a blue PVD-coated movement into a white gold case, the other a green PVD-coated movement into a yellow gold case

The MB&F catalogue can be split into two distinct categories: Legacy and Horological Machine. All are very complex designs in nature, but the Legacy Machine models utilise more conventional circular cases to bring Max’s madness a bit more down to earth. The Horological Machines, however, are where the brand really runs wild, with case constructions you cannot find anywhere else. MB&F describes it very well on their website – Legacy Machines are “the watches MB&F would have made 100 years ago.” Horological Machines are “contemporary designs inspired by our childhood”, looking to cars, planes, animals, and more to inspire their forms. The HM9 was born in 2018 as a tribute to automotive and aeronautic designs of the ’40s and ’50s. Proud of the movement inside these HM9 Flow watches, MB&F aptly decided to find a way to further display the movement within this form – birthing the HM9 Sapphire Vision. Until now, four configurations have been presented – with each being limited to five pieces. This clearly wasn’t enough, with two new configurations, again counting five watches each, joining the collection – the MB&F HM9 Sapphire Vision 2023 Editions.

The HM9-SV case is a remarkable feat of engineering, comprised of 52 components that result in a glorious transparent vessel that, in my opinion, appears to have a steampunk-meets-Star-Wars vibe. With previous Air and Road HM9 Flows paying tribute to the sky and land, the HM9-SV, by MB&F’s description, takes the collection into the ocean – “an exploratory vessel from Atlantis”, in their words.

Comprised of precious metal and sapphire, its hull is largely the latter. This offers an incredible view of the inner mechanics at work. Flat sapphire is one thing, but such curvaceous crystal must have been very difficult to fabricate. MB&F explains: “Preparing the crystals for a single case of HM9-SV requires approximately 350 hours of careful machining and polishing; weeks of work that would be extended greatly if not for the many years of boundary-pushing sapphire crystal design that MB&F has accumulated since 2005.” Two developments allow this watch to be resistant enough for casual wear. The first is its shock-absorbing system comprised of helicoidal springs placed between the HM9 movement and case. The second is its patented, three-dimensional gasket and a high-tech bonding compound that fuses the sapphire crystals to the metallic frame of the case. This process, mastered in-house, allows the watch to be 30 metres water-resistant.

The HM9-SV has intimidating dimensions on paper, with a width of 47mm, thickness of 27mm, and a lug-to-lug span of 57mm. This would be way too large for a traditionally cased watch, but this is meant to be anything but, so we kind of have to throw out the rule book when it comes to what we consider reasonable. This watch will wear differently, and that is ok. Surely, were you to spend the large sum required to own iy, you would not want to hide it under a shirt cuff to begin with.

Image: Eric Rossier

All of this engineering and innovation, somewhat ironically, works towards a watch that displays just the hours and minutes. The movement is very complicated in construction, but it is simple in its indication. Simple is, of course, a disservice in describing the HM9-SV, as there is a lot going on before you reach the vertical dial.

Finished to a haute horology standard, the HM9-SV’s time-telling journey begins on the top/crown side of the watch. Two escapements, intentionally not in resonance, tick away at a more classic 18,000vph rate. Each balance provides discrete sets of chronometric data that is then translated and averaged by a differential for a single stable reading. Were these escapements in resonance, there would be nothing for the planetary differential to average. Having two discrete sets of chronometric data, MB&F believes, results in greater accuracy. Proceeding forward from the balances, you will notice a chamfered, striped, and PVD-coloured bridge, executed in blue for the new white gold configuration, and green for the new yellow gold model. Above the bridge is a signature twin-blade winding rotor that appears to be black-polished, keeping the watch running longer while worn, with a total power reserve of 45 hours fully wound. Do not confuse the two turbines on the underside of the movement as winding rotors. These are just present for added visual aesthetic, catering to the exploratory vessel feel of its design.

At times, releases can seem lazy, especially when a it’s simply the same watch with a new dial or bezel. There is nothing simple about the MB&F HM9 Sapphire Vision. Two new 2023 editions make their debut today, and effectively, the novelty of this release is two new colour schemes. That being said, across four previous configuration only 20 watches were made – the grand total now at a still scarce 30. Considering the complexity of the design, and its very limited nature, having more to choose from is welcome news. My lack of expendable cash, however, is not.

MB&F HM9 Sapphire Vision (2023 Editions) pricing and availability

Image: Eric Rossier

The MB&F HM9 Sapphire Vision 2023 Editions are available now for inquiries. Price: CHF 420,000, US$490,000, €440,000 (excl. VAT)

Brand MB&F
Model HM9-SV (2023 Editions)
Case Dimensions 47mm (D) x 23mm (T) x 57mm (L2L)
Case Material 18K white or yellow gold and sapphire
Water Resistance 30m
Dial Sapphire
Crystal Sapphire
Strap Hand-stitched brown or black alligator strap with case-matching folding buckle
Movement Manually wound, in-house HM9 Engine movement
Power Reserve 45 hours
Functions Hours, minutes
Availability Now, limited to 5 pieces in each colourway
Price CHF 420,000, US$490,000, €440,000 (excl. VAT)