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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The MB&F HM5: hands on photographs and impressions

The long awaited HM5 by MB&F is now revealed! These are one of the first photographs and commentary to reach the world...Max presented this watch to Singapore collectors on Dec 4, about 8pm, while the same is being presented across the world in the form of a press release about the same time. I managed to sneak in a photography session on Dec 3, and you are now reading and viewing these photographs. Embargo time is 2000hrs Singapore.

The base concept of the HM5 is try and capture the futurist view of a wristwatch, from the point of view of someone in the 1970s. The concept of the HM5, also known as On The Road Again, is to use the design cues from the 1970s and project a future view.

This was an era when quartz was king. This was an era where the Lotus Esprit was iconic. When Star Wars was being introduced to the world. Presenting the HM5:

The hour and minute displays are digital...with bidirectional jumping hours and continuous moving digital displayed minutes. These are reflected through a prism purpose design and built for HM5, and magnifies the display 20%.

It draws inspiration from two historical pieces in the 1970s

The Girard Perregaux

Interesting piece. GP being the innovator of quartz, built this curiously 1970s designed piece. With red led lights showing the time. Interestingly, the HM5, like all MB&F are based on the current GP caliber as its base movement, draws a link to this design as well as physical link.

And the Amida, also in the 1970s

This was a mechanical watch, and now very rare. The company who made it was defunct within months of its introduction...remember this was the height of the quartz era, and mechanical watch companies in Switzerland were falling like flies. This timepiece did not survive to tell its tale, but on the wrist, it was just as well, as the time display was difficult to read, and was very small and very deep inside the hooded display.

The HM5 was to solve this. The movement is made flat, with large discs

And the display reflected 90deg, using a sapphire glass prism, like those used in high end cameras. The prism has a slight curvature, providing some 20% magnification. And because the image now seems to come from the surface of the crystal, it is easier to read.

The top of the case features some design features which look like slats on the rear windscreen of the Lotus Espirit.

And two of the front slats, actually open to allow light into the movement to charge the superluminova of the indicators. Max told me the actual discs are glass, and they put about 1mm of superluminova to get as much as possible to provide the lume.

Arrow shows the slats open, via a small lever just by the arrow.

The case of the watch is not water resistant, but the entire movement is built into a water resistant chassis, making this the first HM watch to be water resistant. Hence delivered with a styised rubber strap. Industrial design of the watch is made by Eric Giroud.

The movement is quite beautifully laid out

With the characteristic MB&F rotor, showing the GP sourced base movement.

The movement was created also with the work of Mojon, who also collaborated with Max (and in that case Kari Voultilainen) to bulid the Legacy Machine 1.

From the side, the HM5 is reminiscent of the curves of the HM4

On my wrist

On another, albeit smaller wrist

And Max, obviously proud of his latest baby

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