Max Busser of MB&F has announced his take on what a dive watch could be, the HM7 Aquapod. It’s lovely and impractical, in the very best way. This is not a watch to strap on a wetsuit and seek out the depths, this is a watch inspired by the water, that dreams of the depths. Here’s why…
The HM7 Aquapod is encapsulated in a sapphire bubble, with lugs and strap extending down from a rose gold or titanium frame. From the side when not worn on the wrist, the whole thing is reminiscent of a jellyfish. This is intentional. The jellyfish is the oldest multicellular creature on earth, and is luminescent, just like the HM7 Aquapod. On the wrist, it’s very comfortable, thanks to articulated lugs and a very comfortable rubber strap. The inner pod is 36mm, and the outer diameter is 53mm. With the articulated lugs, it fits well on even small wrists like mine, or a ladies’ wrist.
The movement in the HM7 Aquapod is a wonder to behold. Seriously, it’s best to look at teaser images of the movement, because in the watch it’s harder to see how cool it is. The watch is powered by a vertical tourbillon movement, with the tourbillon at the peak of the stack of gears. Today, movements are developed horizontally to be as flat on the wrist as possible. It wasn’t always so; in the 1700s, pocket watches had movements similar to this, with vertical height. The movement isn’t based on an old one, however – it was developed entirely in-house at MB&F.
Vertically, the stack goes winding rotor, mainspring barrel, hour and minute indications, and tourbillon, all concentrically mounted around the central axis. Each gear acts like a stair step, with energy transferring from one to the next up the vertical stack. The movement runs at 2.5Hz, or k,000bph. This is might be considered slow, compared to other watches that operate at 28,800 bph (4 Hz, the ETA 2824) or 21600 bph (3Hz.) But it’s not slow for the type of movement that it is, or in the wider context of movements; many mechanical movements, such as the Audemars Piguet 2121 movement, run at 2.5Hz, and this also includes pocketwatches like the vertical stack movement this has as its ancestor. The greater Hz is often equated with greater accuracy, but usually has lesser power reserve as a cost. Here, the power reserve is a long 72 hours.
The principle problem that had to be solved when making such a thing was, how to support such wide and heavy hour and minute indicators? They’re rings, at the periphery of the thing. They had to support both the weight and reduce the friction of turning them. To accomplish this, the indicators are made of lightweight aluminum and titanium, and they ride on large ceramic ball bearings. Everything here has a purpose.
The tourbillon isn’t a regular tourbillon, although those are special enough. At the top of the stack, displayed in the center of the hour and minute indicator rings, is a flying tourbillon. The use of the flying tourbillon allows the time display rings to be larger, and more legible. The whole watch is lit up by the use of three panels of AGT Ultra (ambient glow technology.)
The rotor is a tentacle shaped thing, visible on the underside of the HM7 Aquapod, also lit up by the AGT ultra panels. It is machined from a single billet of titanium. To add to the challenge, it’s got elaborate shapes, with both polished and brushed surfaces. Because titanium is lightweight and might not wind the rotor effectively, it’s paired with a heavier platinum counterweight hidden underneath the tentacled titanium rotor.
All dive watches have a bezel. The bezel is marked in ten minute intervals, with the first fifteen marked in one minute intervals, like most dive watches. The unidirectional rotating bezel is made of ceramic, but it isn’t attached to the case. Instead, it floats around the case, attached at four points to the case, kind of like a life-preserver. Inside the life preserver are two crowns on either side of the sapphire pod, one for setting the time, and the other for manually winding the movement.
Is the HM7 Aquapod a dive watch? In spirit, undeniably. However, you should know that it’s rated to 50M or 150 feet depth. Normally, that’s suitable for handwashing and swimming, not actual diving. And there are plenty of watches I’d rather get wet at the 98,000 CHF or 118,000 CHF prices being asked for titanium or 18 karat red gold. This doesn’t matter. None of this matters. There are tons of people who purchase dive watches and never let them see so much as a rain drop. This is a beauty to behold in a world that needs more beauty in it. The HM7 will be limited to 33 pieces in titanium and 66 pieces in red gold.
- Brand & Model: MB&F HM7 Aquapod
- Price: pricing starts at $98,000 CHF, or 96,286 USD
- Who we think it might be for: You like unusual and amazingly well executed wrist-worn art
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: If I could.
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: The beauty of the vertical stack of the movement, and the flying tourbillon.
Tech Specs from MB&F
- Case size: 53.8 mm
- Height: 21.3 mm
- Case material: grade 5 titanium or 18 karat 5N+ red gold
- Crystal: twin sapphire pods with AR coating
- Strap: Rubber bracelet moulded in aircraft-grade Fluorocarbon FKM 70 Shore A elastomer with folding buckle matching case material.
- Movement: Three-dimensional vertical architecture, automatic winding, conceived and developed in-house by MB&F Central flying 60-second tourbillon
- Power reserve: 72 hours
- Balance frequency: 2.5 Hz / 18,000 bph
- Three-dimensional winding rotor in titanium and platinum
- Number of components: 303
- Number of jewels: 35