Watches & Jewelry

MB&F Horological Machine 8 Can-Am: Racing Time


With the Horological Machine 8 Can-Am, Swiss watchmaker MB&F continues its tradition of delighting watch collectors with thoroughly idiosyncratic creations. Now, those in the know will be thinking, shouldn’t it be the HM7 and actually that is right. MB&F is vaulting over the HM7 but we’ll let Max Busser (the MB in MB&F) explain it.

“We had a choice between producing the HM7 or the HM8 this year and because the HM8 is inspired by the Can-Am racing (which started 50 years ago) we decided to go with the HM8. Of course, changing the number would have been easy but the ‘8’ here is the result of ‘5 + 3’ (HM5 and HM3) so we kept it.” Ok, that’s a great explanation but it unfortunately requires an explanation, especially because if you count the HMX, the HM8 is then properly the eight Horological Machine from MB&F! Thanks for giving us a reason to write more words on this MB&F! In case you’re wondering, Busser was speaking at a presentation for the MB&F HM8 in Singapore for watch retailer The Hour Glass.

First of all, some watches reveal their charms easily in photographs; the MB&F HM8 is not one of them. In a world of round watches competing for attention with variations large and small, the HM8 is in a class of its own. For example, it is both sumptuously curvy yet somehow just as angular; having just seen it in person, I can say it is the most remarkably flat watch I have seen in recent memory and this is important but we’ll come back to that.

When you look at the watch, you’ll think at once of the HM3 and the HMX (and maybe the Bugatti watches created by Parmigiani-Fleurier), which is exactly what MB&F wants. This brings us back to that Can-Am bit and the HM3, which is important because like everything MB&F does, this is connected to Busser’s childhood. The Canadian-American Challenge Cup peaked long ago and has been defunct since 1987 (look it up). Like most American racing, it was completely bonkers but the cars were highly distinctive in their curvilinear designs – the roll cage inspired the bars on the watch.

As for the HM3 bit, well that concerns the battle axe motif that has been consistently used by MB&F since the first Horological Machine – well except for the spoilsport HMX. The HM3 put this motif front and center, not only dial side (so to speak) so it was always visible but you could also feel it whirling when you moved. Looking at the time and feeling the motion of the rotor makes one feel connected to one’s timepiece, is how Busser put it. Well, this connection is back in the HM8, where the massive sapphire crystal over the movement is so transparent that at some angles, you can’t even tell that there is something covering the display of the rotor. Another nod to the open-top racers of Can-Am perhaps…

How is the battleaxe motif and that race car design related? Well, Busser wanted to be a car designer and the battleaxe was the weapon of his favorite cartoon hero. He has grown up to be neither a car designer nor a superhero but he nonetheless gets to express these passions in his professional work. It is really that simple.

Before we get to specifications, you should reacquaint yourself with the HM5 and the HMX too because the watch basically works in the same way, in terms of how the indication of time works. Neither of these watches had the rotor on the front of the watch though (not to be confused with the indicator-side in the case of the HM8). The HMX didn’t even express its rotor in the battleaxe form. Once again, MB&F makes it difficult to express exactly how this all comes together so our advice is to go look for the watch. Happily, the MB&F HM8 isn’t a limited proposition, as much of the firm’s output is, so if it retails where you live, you might be able to find the real thing to take a look.