Troubled as these times may be, a handful of brands have decided to forge ahead with the announcement of their latest releases; thus is the case with the innovative indie powerhouse of MB&F. Their 10th Horological Machine—a series dedicated to what we can call ‘less than conventional’ horology—just broke cover in the form of the HM10 Bulldog, and as you’d expect it’s a special breed of watchmaking peculiarity.
MB&F’s communications department said it themselves, there’s a lot of question floating around the industry about whether it is or isn’t the right time to be announcing new watches at all. The reality of the situation is that there is no right or wrong answer. At this stage of the game no one (hopefully) is walking around saying that everything is fine and it’s all ‘business as usual’, but at least personally, in the case of inspiring and aspirational boundary-pushing brands like MB&F, URWerk, De Bethune, and others, breaking news like this gives enthusiasts and collectors something to distract us, something to spark discussion, something to give us pause from the unprecedented state of affairs we are all facing. At the size and scale of their business, it’s not like they’re forcing hundreds of employees into manufacturing facilities to build thousands of these watches for the market. Furthermore, given the niche they operate in, there’s no doubt that collectors who are seeking out the HM10 will happily wait for the climate to settle, should there be production delays.
Anyway, right or wrong, everyone is destined to have an opinion, so let’s get on to why you should care, shall we?
The HM10 Bulldog is very literal in its inspiration; its bugged out ‘eyes’ are a pair of domed discs indicating both hours and minutes. Its toothy jaws under the case band act as a power reserve indication, and its two crowns—one on each —are about as close to abstract ears as you can get when designing watch crowns. Even its case profile from certain angles, thanks to the use of long articulating lugs, gives its silhouette a bit of a running dog appearance. Of course with all things MB&F, design is only a small part of the equation making these watches special.
In terms of specs, its in-house developed caliber is manually wound, with a 45-hour power reserve at a slow 2.5 Hz (18,000 beats per hour). MB&F often uses this slower beat rate both to slow the fluid motion of its exposed balance, and to elongate the power reserve that drives those hefty time indication discs. Its case is on the larger side, as you may have guessed looking at the imagery. you’re looking at 45mm across, 54mm from top to bottom, and a whopping 24mm thick. This last dimension might be surprising until you look at the case in profile view, noting the domed sapphire crystals on either extremity at the lower portion of its case. Thanks to the articulating lug design it does wear more comfortably than imagery or specs would suggest. I had the joy of trying it on (though sadly not photographing the piece) when attending Dubai Watch Week in November of 2019. As a first entry, the new release will be available in either titanium or red gold.
With each Horological Machine, the previous lessons learned in other models are carried forward. In the case of the HM10 Bulldog, you can see many details that have appeared elsewhere previously. The free-floating balance is once again front and center, as an engineering feat first seen in the Legacy Machine Perpetual, and then again in 2017 in the Legacy Machine Split Escapement. The articulating lugs of the case are (to my best recollection) derived from the HM4 Thunderbolt, though a similar system was also used on the HM7 Aquapod. Those beautifully weird dome discs I mentioned earlier go even further back, this time to the HM3 Frog.
As you’d expect, we are not talking about entry-level watchmaking here, and at this level of engineering and finishing the sticker price is reflected accordingly. The titanium version will set you back $105,000 USD, whereas the red gold model comes in at a cool $120,000. While not listed as ‘limited edition’ models, the brand on average only produces about 15 to 20 examples of each production model per year, so these will be vastly more limited than offerings from other brands that hit the market as ‘limited to 2,000 pieces’, per say.
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