If you enjoy building model airplanes as a boy, and become a designer of high-end watches as an adult, what do you end up doing? If you're Maximilian Büsser, you create a watch that resembles an airplane – and that costs as much as one, too. That’s the story behind the new watch from Switzerland’s MB&F (Maximilian Büsser & Friends), the Horological Machine No. 4 Thunderbolt. The 50-jewel titanium and sapphire timepiece looks like it might wrench itself free of your wrist and start performing inside loops in the sky ... given that it sells for a mind-blowing 150,000 euro (US$196,812), however, you’d probably want to keep it close at hand.

“The aviation-inspired case and engine of the Thunderbolt are one,” states the MB & F website. “Neither would, nor could, exist without the other, yet each is so transcendental as to be able to stand alone as a work of art in its own right.”

The “engine” (the inner workings) consist of 311 components, all of which were designed specifically for use in this watch over a period of three years. Despite its high-tech trappings, the HM4 gets its power from being wound by hand. Two mainspring barrels connected in parallel keep it running for up to 72 hours, delivering power via vertical gear trains to two separate jet-turbine-like dials – one displays minutes and hours, while the other displays how much power is left.

The watch’s central case is made from solid pieces of sapphire and titanium, reportedly machined for hundreds of hours. The titanium makes up the main outer surface of the watch, with the sapphire providing clear panels where the intricate inner bits and pieces can be admired.

MB&F sees itself not so much as a watch brand but as “an artistic and micro-engineering concept laboratory in which collectives of independent horological professionals are assembled each year to design and craft radical Horological Machines.” With that in mind, one can only wonder what HM5 will look like.

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