It’s outlandish, different, intriguing, magnetic. Maximilian Büsser describes the initial idea for the Horological Machine No. 6 Space Pirate, a spaceship from a Japanese manga TV series called Captain Future, in the form of a large sphere with a long connecting tube, and four arms. He and his team combined this with influence from the biomorphic design pioneered by German industrial designer Luigi Colani (see image at right, courtesy of www.colani.org) in the 1970s, all complex curves morphing together to form intriguing, futuristic, streamlined structures. These two initial sources of inspiration were just the start of a long design and engineering process, four years of work that culminated in the MB&F Horological Machine No. 6 Space Pirate.
Basically, the watch has a flying tourbillon in the centre dome, with another four domes in the corners. MB&F chose the tourbillon as the regulator because a standard balance wheel would have needed an upper bridge, for which there wouldn’t be enough space in the dome. And of course, a tourbillon is inherently theatrical, perfect for a spaceship watch such as this. Another lovely touch is the retractable shield for the tourbillon dome: paper-thin leaves of titanium flick up to protect the tourbillon from UV radiation that gradually oxidizes the lubricant oils in the escapement. This sort of mechanical nictitating membrane is activated by a crown on the left side of the case.
On the front two domes, semi-spherical indicators showing hours and minutes respectively rotate vertically. This required some careful engineering, because the axis of rotation is at 90° to the movement plane.
The other two domes contain two spherical turbines. Wow, did these guys have fun! They are driven by the rotation of the automatic winding rotor (visible through the sapphire caseback), so that every time the rotor swings around, the turbines start to spin. The MB&F designers even thought up a function for this crazy feature: “as air friction increases exponentially, proportional to the square of the velocity, if the winding rotor starts rotating too quickly as a result of excessive wrist movement, air friction on the turbines increases and helps counteract excessive speed, reducing wear.” Brilliant.
The case is machined from solid blocks of Grade 5 titanium, strong and light. It is of course large, 49.5 mm wide, 52.3 mm from front to back, and 20.4 mm thick. Even though all those bulges look uncomfortable, the pivoted lugs and form-fitting spheres ensure that HM6 sits easily on the wrist. The case provides support for ten sapphire crystals, including the domes for tourbillon, time indications and turbines. Parts of the movement can be seen through the sapphire caseback underneath the watch, revealing the iridescent green platinum winding rotor, in the brand’s characteristic battle axe shape. The movement is intricate, with 475 components, but notwithstanding the complexities of the drive to the rotors and the tourbillon – something that tends to use more energy than a normal regulator – it has a power reserve of 72 hours.
The HM6 Space pirate is a limited edition of 50, in lightweight titanium alloy. Only 100 HM6 movements will be made (so presumably they are planning another version in a different case material). The watch has a calfskin strap with titanium buckle. The watch costs CHF 215,000, about €178,890.
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Above, side view of the Space Pirate. Below, the watch with the tourbillon shield open:
And below, the same view, with the tourbillon shield closed. The movement is controlled by the left-hand crown.
Below, the semi-spherical time indicators showing hours and minutes:
Below, view of the watch showing the movement:
Below, the watch seen from below, with sapphire caseback, the titanium supporting arm, and the pivoted lugs:
Below, detail of the tourbillon:
Below, Maximilian Büsser: