Whether you have recent memories of your Sunday morning drive in the canyons, or more distant ones of those countless hours you spent staring at the pages of car magazines as a child, the inspiration for the MB&F HM8 Mark 2 (or MB&F Horological Machine 8 Mark 2) will probably be clear to the car lover in you. It is the continuation of the brand’s “automotive saga” that began in 2012 with the HM5, followed by the HMX in 2015, and the HM8 in 2016.
The vibrance and diversity of the automotive world provides many different ways in which the design of the MB&F HM8 Mark 2 can be interpreted. First, one might think of the dashboard and coachwork of cars — especially vintage ones, but not only those — where the rev counter and the speedometer have long been installed under a double-arched hood, just as the hours and minutes are on the HM8. Interestingly, we are living right at the time when these traditional displays are being replaced by flat, long, boring computer screens, not just in the center console but also right behind the wheel. In that sense, the HM8 will soon remind us of dashboards only found in “old” cars. If you are after some specific car examples with a dashboard shaped like the case of the HM8, we recommend looking up interior shots of 1960s Camaros, Mustangs, and Triumph TR4s, just to name a few.
Then, looking at it from the opposite side, the double-arced hood and its uniquely shaped sapphire crystal might remind you of those aerodynamic humps found behind the driver’s head on, say, a Jaguar D-Type, F-Type Project 7, or Porsche 918 Spyder — all that’s missing from the MB&F HM8 Mark 2 is a spoiler just above the crown. The “split window” rear of a 1963 C2 Chevrolet Corvette might also spring to mind — a car that’s made its appearances in MB&F videos and Max Büsser frequently referenced as a source of inspiration — as well as the famous Zagato Double Bubble from the 1950s.
The third way in which the MB&F HM8 Mark 2 is linked to cars becomes apparent once it’s on the wrist. It is a “driver’s watch” by design, a rather odd execution for a time display that’s been having a resurgence lately. The point is that the driver can read the time without having to take their hand off the steering wheel — on regular watches, the time display is facing away from the driver while holding the wheel.
The way this is done is largely identical among driver’s watches. The movement is installed in a regular fashion, which is to say horizontally, on the same plane as the wearer’s wrist. The time is indicated not by hands, but by two discs that are mounted also in the movement’s plane. The way the time ends up displayed vertically, so as to face the wearer, is achieved with a prism that mirrors the relevant portion of the disc. The numerals on the discs had to be printed back-to-front as they get reversed by the prism. Another funny consequence is that the numerals and the discs appear to be much larger than the window through which they are displayed, so the uninitiated might not even be able to work out at first how this optical illusion is created. Despite the clever prism, the display can be somewhat dark at times, even with Super-LumiNova luminous paint applied on the markers. Printing black markers over a white background might have traded some of the authentic vintage dashboard vibes for legibility.
The movement, or “Engine,” of the HM8 Mark 2 watch is on full display, with the 22k gold rotor facing upwards and away from the wrist, sporting the MB&F “Battle Axe” design that goes all the way back to the first Horological Machines. Keen-eyed watch enthusiasts will recognize that this is a Girard-Perregaux base, modified to incorporate the jumping hour and trailing minutes module designed in-house by MB&F. It has 42 hours of power reserve and operates at 4 Hertz.
The actual caseback side is in titanium, as is the middle case, for a darker look and a lightweight feel. This reveals an engine block-inspired plate with two massive golden chatons, a few screws, and a striping that mimics the ridges milled into differential housings and other high-performance car components for improved heat dissipation. You see, the HM8 is a true driver’s watch where even those with unleaded high-octane flowing in their veins can find details that will speak only to them. MB&F also engineered a “double de-clutch” crown system (to coin an automobile term) that works by pushing the crown in and turning it three-quarters of a turn to release it. MB&F claims this was done to gain space and to provide additional security. Water resistance on the 47 by 41.5 by 19mm case is nevertheless rated at a basic 30 meters.
The MB&F HM8 Mark 2 is available in two versions: white, and “British racing green,” with their dedicated rotor and time display colors. The exterior pieces are crafted from CarbonMacrolon®, a polymet matrix injected with carbon nano-tubes with a matte finish on top and high polish on the sides. They are lightweight — weighing eight times less than steel — and evenly saturated in their color. A calfskin strap meets the extra-wide lugs at the time display side, while on the opposite side a more ordinary lug structure is in place. The strap is secured using a titanium loop and a Velcro-like surface for infinite adjustability.
The MB&F HM8 Mark 2 is an odd-looking watch, both on and off the wrist, and yet it is also among the more traditionally shaped and inspired MB&F Machines. It’s full of fantastic and entertaining detail, packaged in a way that is less in-your-face than so many others in the outlandish Horological Machines series and, as such, it is a clever and calculated expansion of the line that put MB&F on the map.
Car enthusiasts might agree that the MB&F HM8 Mark 2 is a lot like a collectible car in the sense that it is an absolute joy to appreciate in its execution, operation, and unique design — done all in an effort to reverse engineer the thought processes and engineering decisions that have led to its creation. Like many nice cars, it is also rather quite pricey: The MB&F HM8 Mark 2 costs $78,000, excluding taxes. You can learn more at the brand’s website.