MB&F HM5 RT - On the Road Again

MB&F HM5 RT – On the Road Again

by Matthew Boston
MB&F, Over $30,000

The MB&F HM5 RT is the second edition of the retro-futuristic timepiece inspired by cars of the 1970s as well as watch design from the quartz era, it is now presented in gold. Although it looks to the past given the materials and techniques used, this watch remains firmly rooted in the 21st century. MB&F often surprises and seduces with their new creations and this new edition, the MB&F Horological Machine No5 presented last year in titanium is no exception to the rule, quite the contrary. Its a really interesting mix of genres, eras and styles that lead to this retro-futuristic looking timepiece and its stylish lines conceal an unusually complex mechanism.

MB&F HM5 RT – The Case

With its distinctive profile, the housing of the HM5 On the Road Again is a direct tribute to the courageous Amida Digitrend a futuristic looking jumping hours watch that rebelled against the quartz revolution taking place at the time in the 1970’s.

Amida Digitrend

Amida Digitrend

But it also features references to supercars of the time. The rear windows of some of these impressive cars – such as the Lambourghini Miura pictured- used shutters to prevent sunlight (and heat) from entering through the rear window. As you can see the HM5 also features them though functionally the shutters on the HM5 do the opposite and are used to allow light in to charge on the Super-LumiNova numbers on the time disks. The opening and closing of these shutters also dictates the amount of illumination received – this opening and closing is affected by means of a sliding button on the side of the housing.

Lamborghini Miura 1970s

Lamborghini Miura 1970s

The brushed finish of the case highlights the rich lustre of 5N pink gold, titanium grade 5 is also used and covers the lower sides and base of the case and softens the nobility of the rose gold. The warm hue of the gold contrasts nicely with the coldness of the titanium. Despite a generous size of 51.5 x 49 mm and the presence of gold, the HM5 RT is intended to be very comfortable on the wrist because the weight of the gold is compensated by the extreme lightness titanium.

MB&F HM5 RT - Case

MB&F HM5 RT – Case

But as in any supercar, the best lies under the hood. Thus, a look beneath the surface of the housing of the HM5 On the Road Again is a surprise: another case, like a Russian doll. Because the outer case is not water tight due to the shutters that open, a second inner one that is water resistant is used to house the movement. MB&F describe the inner case with internal water resistant as an “engine container”.

MB&F HM5 RT – The Movement

The HM5 ‘engine’ is based like other MB&F machines on the Girard-Perragaux cal. 3100. Jean-François Mojon – his other creations being amongst others the Harry Winston Opus X – collaborated on the development of the movement as well as Vincent Boucard who also worked on the MB&F Legacy Machine 1.

MB&F HM5 RT - Movement

MB&F HM5 RT – Movement

The mechanical movement actually also takes its inspiration from the era of quartz. The hours-minutes display at first glance seems simple, but is in fact complicated using bi-directional jumping hours with an inverted display, reflected 90° and magnified 20%! Since the jumping hours are bi-directional it allows for easy time setting forward or backward.

The two discs displaying the hours and minutes are made from sapphire glass, the top one indicates the jumping hours while the lower one the minutes. The discs overlap as much as possible in order to maximize their diameter so that the numbers are large and legible and have been printed in reverse so as to display normally when reflected through the sapphire glass prism.

MB&F HM5 RT – The Dial

Although the discs spin horizontally on top of the movement the reading of the time is done vertically as on a “dashboard”. To achieve this, MB & F developed a reflective sapphire prism that bends the light at 90 ° and has a magnification of 20% to optimize readability. The Sapphire prism contains angles calculated with extreme precision to ensure that the light is reflected from the vertical/ horizontal directions, rather than refracted. A convex lens at the front provides magnification. Difficult to shape the glass for optical precision the sapphire required a long development and meticulous manufacturing so that the reflection is done without any distortion.

MB&F HM5 RT - Dial

MB&F HM5 RT – Dial

Because the time is reflected, the figures are printed upside down on the discs so that they appear correctly on the “dial”. The figures are finished with a light iridescent green outline evoking the original Amida Digitrend watch (which gave the illusion of an LED quartz display) as well as illuminated instruments aboard a supercar dashboard. The vertical display of the HM5 is perfect for drivers since it means you dont need to let go of the steering wheel to read the time. Its difficult to realise when you look at this simple looking display how complicated the technical aspects involved are.

MB&F HM5 RT Watch

MB&F HM5 RT Watch

MB&F HM5 RT – Conclusion and Price

This gold version of the HM5 “On the Road Again” is guaranteed to delight those who love sophisticated but slightly quirky design combined with perfect technical mastery. The MB&F HM5 RT “On the Road again” is a limited edition of 66 pieces and retails for $82,000.

More resources about the MB&F HM5 RT on Monochrome (Hands-On), Hodinkee, and ABTW.

    Author Bio

    Articles by Matthew Boston


    Matthew Boston has worked in the computer graphics industry for 17 years in various parts of the world, currently residing back home in the UK. His interest in watches was first piqued as a youngster when he was fascinated by a Seiko digital watch he received. He's also founder of UniqueWatchGuide which is dedicated to sharing the news about timepieces that are unusual, unconventional and more often than not unobtainable.