As mechanical wristwatches become more showpieces than timepieces, large front and back crystals have become common as a way to show off the intricate workings inside. Now MB&F takes the trend to its logical conclusion with its Horological Machine No. 6 (HM6) Alien Nation – a watch that does away with the case entirely by sealing the movement inside a single, all-encompassing sapphire crystal.
The latest in HB&F's very limited HM6 series, the Alien Nation is less Rolex than Roswell. Where the previous HM6 Space Pirate took its inspiration from the Captain Future science fiction character's spaceship, the Comet, with a touch of American Greyhound buses of the 1950s and '60s thrown in, Alien Nation takes its cue from those persistent folklore figures of modern times – the Little Green Men from outer space, or in this case, little silver men.
Inside the transparent "spaceship" case of the Alien Nation are five alien "crew" seemingly tending to the workings of the watch, while a captain rides at the helm on the outside. Each of the micro-sculptures with arms and necks finer than grains of sand is made of white gold and were individually modeled and hand-sculpted by engraver Olivier Kuhn, taking 34 hours each to complete.
The case itself is made of 12 separate blocks of sapphire crystal that had to be hand cut and polished for up to 510 hours each to exacting tolerances to fit together. According to the company, this was extremely difficult due to the brittle nature of the material and more than once hundreds of hours of work were lost to breakages.
The separate pieces are sealed with polymer gaskets to provide water resistance to 30 m (3 ATM), and the only other material used is Grade 5 titanium for the reinforcing brackets that also act as attachments for the gray hand-stitched alligator wrist strap with titanium buckle.
Inside the case is one of the three-dimensional horological engines developed exclusively for HM6 with the David Candaux 60-second Flying tourbillon and its manually retractable semi-spherical titanium shield to protect the lubricating oils from UV light. Like the early Space Pirate, this has 496 components with 68 jewels that drive twin hour and minute domes rotating perpendicularly to the movement.
A pair of ornate regulating turbines are coupled to the platinum 950 battle-ax automatic winding rotor. These use air drag to slow the rotor down if its moment of inertia rises above a prescribed level. Power reserve is 72 hours.
Only four of the HM6 Alien Nation were made, each in a distinct color scheme of blue, green, turquoise, or purple, and the interior lights up in the dark with thick bands of Ambient Glow Technology Ultra and Super-LumiNova highlighting the smaller features. Both match the watch's color motif, as do the case gaskets.
Each HM6 Alien Nation costs US$500,000, but if you want one, you're out of luck. All four have already been sold to a single collector.
The video below introduces the HM6 Alien Nation.