When watchmaking collides with childhood memories, it usually ends with something along the lines of Mickey Mouse. But when Maximilian Büsse of MB&F was inspired by the 1970s cartoon character Captain Future, the result was Horological Machine No.6 (HM6) "Space Pirate." This luxury bit of haute horlogerie not only reflects the style of an outer space adventurer’s ship, but is also piece of high-tech mechanical watchmaking with 475 components – 80 in the case alone.
Created by Mort Weisinger in 1940, Captain Future was one of those pulp fiction heroes with no visible means of support who went around combating evil in the days when novellas printed on cheap paper were popular entertainment. In this case, Captain Future was a super-genius "man of tomorrow," who flew around in a spaceship called the Comet with a robot, an android, and a brain in a box (you had to be there) confronting space emperors, Martian wizards, and assorted interplanetary baddies in the pages of his eponymous magazine.
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In 1978, the series was adapted in Japan as an anime cartoon series, and found considerable popularity in France, where it was called "Capitaine Flam," and captured the imagination of future watch designer Büsser. It was from the Comet's design of a pair of spheres connected by a tube that Büsser drew his inspiration for the HM6 Space Pirate.
The result of over three year’s development by MB&F with David Candaux Horlogerie Créative, the heart of the HM6 is a 68-jewel movement with a 60-second flying Tourbillon that resides behind a retractable semi-spherical metal shield actuated by turning the crown on the left. According to the company, its purpose is to shield the regulator from UV light that can speed up the oxidation of lubricating oils.
The automatic winding mechanism is run by an iridescent green platinum 950 battle-axe rotor. To keep this properly regulated, there are twin aluminum turbines that moderate the winding speed of the automatic winding system and minimize wear by means of air friction. The HM6 also has a 72-hour power reserve if there isn't enough activity to keep it wound.
All of this is sealed in a Ti-6Al-4V (Grade 5), aeronautic-grade titanium case made by Les Artisans Boitiers. It’s designed for lightness, strength, corrosion resistance, and low thermal conductivity. Around the case is a titanium band, which increases the case’s strength and supports the free-moving lugs. According to MB&F, these lugs are made to make the calfskin strap fit snugly even on smaller wrists.
Set in the case are 10 sapphire crystals. Nine of these form domes with four covering the hour and minute readouts on the lower two corners of the case, four more for the turbines at the other corners, and the last standing over the Tourbillon and its protective metal dome.
A total of 100 HM6 movements will be produced, which will take around four years of manufacturing. The first 50 of these featuring the titanium case were launched last week for US$230,000 each, with the remaining 50 to feature cases crafted in other materials.
The video below introduces the HM6 Space Pirate.