In 2020, Geneva-based high-end watchmaker MB&F debuted the tenth version of its Horological Machine timepiece series known as the HM10 “Bulldog” on aBlogtoWatch here. I got a chance to go hands-on with the all-titanium version of the MB&F HM10, which I discuss for you today. In addition to this titanium-cased model (HM10 Bulldog TI reference 100.TL.BL), MB&F also produced a titanium and red-gold version known as the HM10 Bulldog RT (reference 100.RL.B). I, of course, have to also mention the one-off pièce unique version of the HM10 that MB&F produced for the OnlyWatch auction known as the HM10 Panda, which you can read more about here.
I’ve long been a fan of MB&F’s Horological Machine watch series because it represents a “no holds barred” approach to advancing the notion of what a luxury wristwatch can be. Max Busser, found of MB&F, has long said that HM watches are “wearable mechanical art,” as opposed to being positioned as a tool watch or purely functional item like a sports watch. Creativity and novelty are at the heart of the concept, and, for a long time, each new Horological Machine watch really offered something spectacular and fresh. More recently, Busser and his team have become a bit more commercially minded, which is a logical outcome of being in business as an avant-garde high-end watch brand for nearly 20 years. What we see today is a combination of fresh ideas as well as a mixture of now-familiar MB&F design and mechanical themes that customers have signaled they like.
I say all this to help position the HM10 Bulldog watch within the pantheon of other MB&F creations since, in my opinion, this cool series of watches is more an amalgamation of existing MB&F themes rather than something entirely novel. Does that make the HM10 any less special? No, I wouldn’t say that. But it does illuminate the more contemporary strategy of a brand that, for the first 10 years or so of its existence, was deeply interested in pushing the limits where ever it could.
Let’s first talk about some of the existing MB&F watches and themes that found their way into the HM10, which helps explain where this concept came from. In large part, the HM10 case and movements are a combination of the MB&F HM3 Frog’s creature-like eye “domes” that indicate time, the LM1’s floating 2.5Hz balance wheel that sits over the dial via a distinctive V-shaped bridge, and the HM4’s case style, which presented long articulating lug structures and their corresponding look when worn on the wrist. Don’t forget that in 2011, MB&F even offered a panda-themed one-off piece of the HM4 for that year’s installment of the OnlyWatch auction too. Accordingly, at best, you can call the HM10 Bulldog watch a collective homage to some of MB&F’s interesting historic work, and at worst, you can accuse MB&F of a bit too much conceptual recycling. Whatever your feelings about the original HM10 watch, it is still a very charming thing to wear on the wrist and embodies a fun, animal-like design.
MB&F understands that connecting its products to creatures (both actual or imagined by culture) is a very wise way of capturing the hearts and minds of enthusiasts. We not only like the act of interacting with our mechanical creatures (something that is much less available in, say, a simple quartz watch), and we also like machines with lifelike elements including “eyes, feet, and a heartbeat.” The HM10 does all of this well, with a design that was more or less intended to look like a small creature sitting on your wrist. One of the fun and actually utilitarian elements of the HM10 watch is the opening and closing “jaws” position in the lower half of the case, which is visible through the bottom domed sapphire crystal. How are the “jaws” utilized for functional purposes? This is actually the power reserve indicator, and I believe the jaws fully open when the manually wound movement is fully wound.
Other functions include telling the time via hours and minutes using the two eye domes, which is a design element from the HM10 that is very hard not to associate with the HM3 Frog, even though the execution is just slightly different. Now the eyes operate with a 14mm-wide balance wheel “halo” on top that makes for a good look. The movement is entirely developed in-house by MB&F, is comprised of 301 parts, and has a power reserve of 45 hours. The relatively slow 18,000 bpm rate of the regulation system is intentionally designed to give an attractive view of the oscillation in action. Too much faster and the elegant animation effect is lost a bit. There is Super-LumiNova painted on the time-telling domes to allow for better legibility in the dark, and the movement offers dual crowns. One crown is used for winding the movement while the other is used for adjusting the time.
Most people will probably like the Horological Machine No. 10 better on the wrist than in pictures. The case and its form are very strange, but on the wrist, the composition is comfortable and well-conceived. MB&F once again made sure that refinement and ergonomics are an integral part of the product wearing and operating experience. The articulating lug structures move so that they can adapt to the shape of most any wrist, and the included custom strap (here in blue textile with a black leather liner) is comfortable and hip-looking in style. The strap closes via a Velcro-style system, which, since Richard Mille, has been something that luxury watches are not comfortable with.
I don’t really see the watch as being a bulldog in shape, but then again, I’m not a fan of such creatures as I prefer more traditionally beautiful animals. Then again, I will readily admit that the “little monster” dog appreciation market is rather robust and, from a marketing perspective, this works for MB&F. Given the adaptability of the HM10 to look like other creatures (such as a panda), I fully expect future versions of the Horological Machine No. 10 to take the form of other animals or creatures. I can’t wait to see what MB&F has in mind for us next with this series.
Completing the “Bulldog” theme is a stylized name plaque on the rear section of the watch, which makes the entire device look like some chic appliance from the 1950s. Under the watch is also an engraved statement that reads, “Forget the dog, beware of the owner.” I suppose anyone who enjoys the playful allure of an avant-garde luxury watch priced at over $100,000 is someone you don’t readily want to mess with.
When talking about dimensions in a watch case like this, it is best to just view how it looks on my wrist, as it can be hard to imagine its actual size from the measurements. The HM10 Bulldog case is 45mm-wide, 54mm-long (lug-to-lug distance), and 24mm-thick at its widest point. The case is also water-resistant to 50 meters. Again, that sounds large, but as you can see on my arm, the HM10 Bulldog actually sits on the wrist very politely. It’s crtainly worth putting on simply to appreciate the experience. As MB&F continues to mature as a company, we see a lot of changes and adaptations to current market conditions. The brand has a smart long-term approach to market appeal, as well as fleshing out its product catalog with both fresh and familiar faces. The HM10 is one of many appealing flavors from the company and is a satisfying high-end timepiece when judged from most angles. MB&F might be in a phase where recycling concepts makes sense, but I hardly see the company shying away from new ideas in other areas, and I fully expect fans of the brand to be wowed with novelty again in the near future. Price for the MB&F HM10 Bulldog TI watch as seen here in titanium is $105,000 USD. Learn more at the MB&F website.