Just as they did in 2009, MB&F will participate in the 2011 Only Watch charity auction to be held in Monaco this September. The event is an auction for unique watches only, with proceedings going to help fund research for a particularly nasty type of disease that affects children. Instead of just changing a color or small style element, MB&F prefers to donate a true piece of art.
For the 2009 Only Watch event MB&F worked with artist Sage Vaughn on a piece unique based on the HM2. This latter piece focused on the crippling nature of the disease and was a beautiful, but dark piece that had barbed wire entangling the movement. For 2011 Max Busser of MB&F wanted a more uplifting message. As the type of muscular dystrophy the charity seeks to combat is incurable, the idea is that the children can only escape in their dreams. Thus, the 2011 MB&F piece Only Watch is a celebration of what boy's dream about. For Max Busser it was frequently flying - and perhaps it was for you as well.
MB&F worked with well-known Chinese artist Huang Hankang on the piece and based it on the HM4 Thunderbolt watch. He discovered Huang Hankang via a painting of his depicting a Panda flying a rocket ship. He contact Mr. Hankang who then came up with the idea of a Panda literally riding the HM4 (that is already meant to look like a flying machine). The Panda represents youth and things we like as children. The little guy is holding reins and literally riding the HM4 like it was a dragon (or a rocket powered ship).
Of course for me, the immediate image is that of the podracers in Star Wars Episode One. The two "pods" that make up much HM4 look like podracer engines, and the reins are similar to those from the scene in the movie. So allow me to nickname this watch the "Panda Bear Rider." The Panda and concept was designed by the artist, and a jeweler in Switzerland crafted the bear and reins out of solid 18k white gold. According to MB&F it took many hours just to hand engrave the Panda and accompanying parts.
In addition to the figurine, the HM4 watch itself needed to be modified. This is not only for the inclusion of the figurine, but because it is also detachable. Wearing it with the panda bear rider can make the HM4 much more delicate . So you can slide off the panda and reins. This required modifying a few parts on this particular one-of-a-kind creation. Another unique element is the addition of artist Huang Hankang's signature in Chinese placed on one of the bottom mounted sapphire crystals.
The piece is fun, and as always, highly unexpected. It looks so much like a little model, that the winner will need a display stand for it. Any kid would want to pick it up and zoom it around the room like it was a spaceship actually being flown by a panda. The rest of the watch is all HM4 - complete with the movement and titanium case. For more details on the HM4 Thunderbolt watch, you can consult with this previous article.
The MB&F HM4 Only Watch 2011 piece will be auctioned off in Monaco in September. The winner will also receive a special painting and modified MB&F watch case to go along with the piece unique watch.