MB&F have always made watches that literally seem to jump out at you, declaring the time rather than simply telling it, and as with the playful HM3 Frog watch, their HM3 MoonMachine has taken it one step further with a collaboration that marks the 2012 edition of their Perfomance Art Pieces.
Since 2009 MB&F have offered a timepiece to an outside creator who then alters the Machine according to their taste; last year it was Chinese artist Huang Hankang with the childishly wonderful HM4 piloted by a flying panda for Only Watch 2011; this year sees Finnish independent watchmaker Stephan Sarpaneva endow the HM3 Frog with his passion for the Moon and stars with the MoonMachine. With his own brand almost a decade old, he has already worked with Piaget, Parmigiani, and Christophe Claret.
MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser explains the collaboration: "Stepan has an incredible sense of design and a real sense of detail. His work and everything he surrounds himself with is extremely coherent". What Sarpaneva has managed to do with the MoonMachine is turn the HM3 Frog into a fairytale of sorts, a magical exuberance that sees the face of the watch become an embodiment of the star-filled night sky as the face (quite literally) of the moon travels across, it's various phases depicted as the the lunar countenance moves through a Korona shaped aperture. Sarpaneva explains why it was the HM3 Frog he chose as his Performance Art Piece: "The visible movement at the top of HM3 Frog added a technical aspect that provided a serious counterpoint to the playfulness of the bulging frog-eyed indications. In covering the movement, the moon phase and sky hides this and makes the timepiece more poetic".
The celestial nature of the watch is brought squarely down to earth once you take a look inside it, with the Frog's unusual method of indicating time demanding the development of a new gear train for the HM3 engine as the aluminium hour dome of the Frog rotates in 12 hours compared to the 24-hour revolution of the HM3 hour hand; a multi-layered Northern Sky rotor also adds to the stellar backdrop, concealing the HM3 motor but also adding an immediacy to the moving stars. In fact the stars themselves are laser-pierced allowing light to reflect from the movement underneath and are not simply placed at random: they form the seven brightest stars in Ursa Major, more commonly known as the Big Dipper/Big Plough/Big Bear, plus the seven brightest stars of Ursa Minor, more commonly known as the Little Dipper/Little Bear, which includes Polaris, the North star.
Available in three limited editions of eighteen pieces each, each with the signature three-dimensional engine movement designed by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, the MoonMachine marks yet another intriguing collaboration for MB&F and another high-spirited addition to their Perfomance Art Pieces.
A close up of MB&F's MoonMachine in black, the moon phase displayed by dual moons rotating under a Korona ring.
A look inside the MoonMachine's engine, the aluminium hour dome rotates in 12 hours compared to the 24-hour revolution of the HM3 hour hand.
The men behind the MoonMachine: Maximilian Büsser and Stepan Sarpaneva.
The MB&F MoonMachine with red gold face.
The MB&F MoonMachine with light blue sky face.
The HM3 Frog, the original MB&F Machine from which the MoonMachine came.