MB&F HM4 Final Edition Watch Hands-On

MB&F HM4 Final Edition Watch Hands-On

MBF HM4 Final Edition-16

Among controversial watch brands there are controversial models. MB&F is no stranger to this. While I personally found a lot to enjoy in the HM4 watch collection it was not everyone's favorite. Which is less than ironically the case for the HM1, HM2, HM3, and now the HM5. MB&F sort of relishes in the love and hate relationship people sometimes have with their products. I mention all this not to state the obvious but because I think that MB&F itself had this relationship with the HM4. Not that they disliked the watch, but rather that it proved so difficult to play around with - making for a difficult watch/watch designer relationship.

Consider watches like the HM2 and the HM3. Each of those enjoyed a range of rather impressive and diverse variations. I won't go into specifics, but the novice reader can spend a few minutes searching the aBlogtoWatch archives because I believe we covered them all. But just think of some of the examples. The HM2 watch version with the all-sapphire front plate, the HM2 designed by Alain Silberstein. Or how about the multitude of HM3 watches? They aren't even done yet with those. There was the fantastical jewelry collection owl versions done with Boucheron, and an evolution on the design with the Frog. The HM4 got a few paint jobs, and a panda rider.

MBF HM4 Final Edition-3

MBF HM4 Final Edition-13

Now, the HM4 Thunderbolt goes out with a model simply called the "Final Edition." The anticlimactic name halts the limited production model with an all-black version that has hoods over the time and power reserve dials to hide them from uncouth onlookers. I mean really, how dare people try to read the time off MY watch without asking? Hooligans...

I can't help but get the feeling that MB&F is/was stuck with the core design of the HM4 so much that they could not offer wild variations. The case and movement were so unique, the inner sapphire case segment so expensive that it was just too much effort to change the watch while still having it make financial sense and still being able to call it an HM4. I know none of this for a fact, but it merely looks this way to me. That is a shame because the HM4 was truly one of my favorites. Offering it with a cool painted and riveted case with the Razzle Dazzle & Double Trouble was totally cool, but it felt more like a fancy paint job than a meaningful variation. Seeing the HM4 versions that MB&F offered all together sort of compounds that sentiment. Despite saying all this, looking at the overall case and concept, I don't think I could have suggested to MB&F any meaningful ways on how to change it. There just wasn't that much room to play with.

MBF HM4 Final Edition-7

MBF HM4 Final Edition-8

MBF HM4 Final Edition-2

Upset I am not, but it does make for an interesting observation. I have a feeling that in the future, the HM4 will be one of the more highly sought after and collectible of the Horological Machines because it is unique even among unique watches given how everything, and I mean everything about it was ultra-custom. Another unique part of the HM4 collection was that it was never technically a limited edition - at least not by name. MB&F said they would make a certain amount each year. However, they did say that they would only make a certain amount of HM4 movements (100 of them). What does that mean? Well basically that each model was technically a limited edition, but that at launch they had no idea what all of those models would be. They promised 100 movements to play around with and that was it.

The limited edition amounts of each of the HM4 models was staggeringly low - say eight or 18 pieces only. The Final Edition is limited to eight pieces. It looks like 2013 will be the final year of the Thunderbolt and its kin. One hundred pieces will be made and one of the more unique MB&F models will be laid to rest. I think that the HM4 was simply a great technical and logistical challenge for MB&F. It is my guess, but it would make sense given all that we have seen.

MBF HM4 Final Edition-12

MBF HM4 Final Edition-6

So getting back to the HM4 Final Edition we have two square hoods over the dials and a dark gray/black-coated titanium case. It looks just as cool as ever, but I prefer the original with its rounder dials. Having said that, the darker color of the Final Edition is pretty cool. The only other dark colored HM4 was a limited piece (of one) produced for Marcus (a watch store on Bond Street) in London with an all black case. So in total only nine HM4s in black were ever made.

As odd as it still looks, the HM4 is very comfy on the wrist. The flexible front lugs and thick strap make for a nice fit. It is still cool to look through the sapphire crystal middle section of the case to view the manually wound movement that looks like a Star Trek spaceship. As before, the HM4 features just the time and a useful power reserve indicator. This watch is all about the design and concept versus the mechanical complication. The watch features two crowns, one is for adjusting the time, and one is to wind the movement. With just 100 pieces around the world, the HM4 remains a rare treat and unique model that helped solidify MB&F as among today's great art watch makers, even though the HM4 perhaps never realized its full potential in a variety of forms. The Horological Machine No. 4 Final Edition watch will be limited to just 8 pieces with a price of $230,000. Consider that the HM4 Thunderbolt had a price of $158,000 at launch. mbandf.com

MBF HM4 Final Edition-10

MBF HM4 Final Edition-14

Tech specs from MB&F: Horological Machine No4 Final Edition; HM4 Final Edition is a limited edition of 8 pieces in blackened titanium


Three-dimensional horological engine developed 100% by MB&F
Manual winding with two mainspring barrels in parallel
Power reserve: 72 hours
Balance frequency: 21,600bph/3Hz
Number of components: 311
Number of jewels: 50


Hours, minutes and power reserve indicator
Hours and minutes on right dial, power reserve indicator on left dial
Separate crowns for time setting and winding


Grade 5 titanium coated with black PVD
Dimensions: 54mm wide x 52mm long x 24mm high
Number of components: 67
Articulation of lugs: 3°

Sapphire crystals:

Five sapphire crystals: 2 x dials, 1 x central case section, 2 x display panels (top and bottom)

Strap & Buckle:

Hand-stitched calfskin strap with titanium custom-designed folding buckle attached to articulated lugs

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Magnificent watch!!!!!!!


As a feat of engineering, craftsmanship or simply elegant madness, it's as kids say these days... a win. I'd very proudly display MB&F's pieces in an illuminated glass cabinet but there is no way I would be seen wearing one (well, maybe one)! They are outlandish, inches away from the bad type of ridiculous, yet to dismiss the creativity and ingenuity in all their details is foolish... and theoretically, those that appreciate timepieces aren't fools.


I like the square hood on the watch face but find if you move further back on the body, that it doesnt do much aside from the paint job. If that bit had been stealthified, then the whole idea of the watch would hang better. Maybe a more angular fuselage like an F-117 fighter.

DG Cayse
DG Cayse

Hideous. Ridiculous. A waste of time, effort and someones money.

Just a few of the thoughts this MB&F line inspires. If this is the "Final Edition" lets put this in perspective by pointing at it and giving it the dericive laughter it so richly deserves.

Perhaps one of these atrocities will be seen gracing the limp-wrist of a 'Portlandia' cast member. A barista perhaps, With a faint jazz-beard, mock turtleneck and a beret.



Least appealing of the HM4 line. They should have quit when they were ahead.


I quite like MB&F offerings in general.  The only people who think this watch is cool are those who still think Knightrider-era David Hasselhoff is cool, with his afro, tight leather pants, chest hair and medallion.  In other words, Germans.  The watch looks like it was made from parts ripped straight off K.I.T.T's dashboard.  All I can say is "Gott im himmel!"

Kar Wai Law
Kar Wai Law

I would say "take my money already!"..alas, I don't have enough of it (yet) for MB&F to take..


Dali of the modern age... I see a tall comic book dominatrix wearing this...


I always felt that the HM4 was MB&F's 'weakest' offering, and this final edition is really just the last nail in that coffin. I really don't enjoy anything about this, which is a shame, because I really want to. Let's just move on.


Jet engines, these are not. Was it a flying cathode ray tube or a loudspeaker that provided the inspiration?  I kid because I really do like it. I think the square hoods take the quirkiness to another level...in a good way.


@DG Cayse Thank you sir. Now I don't have to write all that.

".... and one of the more unique MB&F models will be laid to rest."

Can we have that in writing, duly notarized? May we even look forward to a promise that MB&F will forever stop inflicting their stupid junk on innocent bystanders? If causing vicarious embarrassment were a crime, MB&F would be doing life without parole, sharing a small cell with Van Cleef and Arpels.