Any day where we get a new Horological Machine from MB&F is a good day. While today we’re not getting a totally new HM, we are getting a new take on one of the brand’s more outlandish creations, the HM6. The aptly-named Alien Nation is a limited edition of just four unique pieces (each is slightly different more on that in a bit) that takes the already space-themed watch and opens it up while adding some minute, hand-crafted extra terrestrials to the mix.
The original HM6 debuted back in November 2014, and it sure turned a lot of heads when it did. The watch featured a curvy titanium case with a bunch of sapphire bubbles sticking out at the edges. One in the middle showed off a sharp-looking tourbillon and four more made visible the rotating time displays for the hours and minutes. In January 2016, the HM6 got an update with the SV editions, each of which had sapphire tops and bottoms, held together with a grooved gold or platinum caseband. It was a totally different look, powered by the same movement.
Now we’re getting yet another take on the HM6. And, without a doubt, this is the most extreme take yet. It might even be the most extreme machine MB&F has ever made. The HM6 Alien Nation takes those sapphire tops and bottoms and adds a sapphire midcase. Now only the lugs are metal and you can see all the mechanics working away inside plus a few other things.
While the case may have this sort of seamless, transparent look to it, the construction is extremely complex. There are 12 separate sapphire components that can take up to 510 hours of machining and polishing to create. And that doesn’t even begin to take into account the breakage that can occur these pieces are prone to shattering if not machined just-so, and if a component breaks it can mean dozens or hundreds of wasted hours. There are titanium reinforcing components, and the tourbillon still has that retractable dome than can be deployed over the top too. To me, this case is the perfect fit for something as mechanically interesting as the HM6, since you can now watch every tiny little piece at work.
Speaking of which, the movement is the familiar HM6 engine, which was developed in collaboration with watchmaker David Candaux. It shows the hours and minutes on the aluminum domes up front and the winding system has a pair of turbine-shaped dampeners at the rear of the watch to balance things out. The one-minute flying tourbillon on top has a cage shaped like a battle axe, which recalls the signature MB&F winding rotor that you find on the bottom of the caliber. In all, there are 496 components, 68 of which are jewels, and the watch carries a 72-hour power reserve.
The other big thing about this watch is the addition of the alien “crew” to the spaceship. Outside the case there is the captain sitting up front, and then hidden inside the case you have five more little aliens doing everything from working on the time display to lounging around. These micro-sculptures are made by engraver Olivier Kuhn, and each is made of solid white gold with deep black eyes. The necks are so thin that they’re slimmer than a single grain of sand, and each alien can take up to 34 hours to complete. Its more than a full month of work to create the six aliens you see in each watch. See if you can spot them all in the photos below.
What makes each of the four Alien Nation pieces unique is the color of the lume. One piece each will be made with turquoise, green, purple, and blue (seen here). You can get a little hint in the light, as the water resistance gaskets match the lume color, but in the dark these guys really light up. Around the edge of the caseband is a large strip of AGT Ultra (the same thing used in the HMX Black Badger editions) and then the time displays, winding dampeners, and the tourbillon cage are all accented in SuperLuminova. Seriously, check this out.
When you first see any version of the HM6, it looks like it would be extremely difficult to wear. So far though, all three versions, including this one, have surprised me by being extremely comfortable. Sapphire is much lighter than you’d think, and with the articulated lugs this watch sits extremely close to the wrist. I can’t say this is something I’d want to walk around wearing most days, but it’s far from one of those crazy pieces that you buy just to have it sit in your safe. Telling the time is also rather easy, especially after you get used to the dome-driven display.
At this point, you might be wondering how much the HM6 Alien Nation costs. The answer is $500,000, but that turns out to be kind of irrelevant. When MB&F previewed the model to a longtime collector, instead of selecting his favorite model for himself, he decided to buy all four at once. That means that these watches will never be available for public sale, and I’m sure there are more than a few disappointed fans out there as a result. That’s quite the little alien army for the lucky collector though, isn’t it?
For more information on the HM6 Alien Nation and other Horological Machines, visit MB&F online.