Hiren Kumar Bose on the unique watch by MB&F which will be auctioned in Geneva in November
Doodle on a watch; and that too by a 15-year-old. One doesn’t come across such stories often. In fact, I haven’t come any in my decade and three-year-old career as a writer on watches.
The doodle by Cassandra Legendre holds a pride of place in MB&F’s Horological Machine N°8 “Only Watch.”
For the fourth time, MB&F is contributing a unique edition of one of their Machines to the Only Watch, to be sold in aid of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder characterised by progressive muscle degeneration primarily affecting young boys. Held every 2 years, MB&F’s maiden participation in the Only Watch was in 2009, with the HM2 Only Watch. In 2011 it donated the HM4 Only Watch. MB &F skipped the 2013 edition but came back in 2015 with the Melchior Only Watch.
Established in 2005 and organised by the Association Monégasquecontre les Myopathies under the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Only Watch is a biennial auction specialising in one-of-a-kind timepieces. The funds raised go towards research in treating and curing neuromuscular diseases, in particular, Duchenne muscular dystrophy. To date, the auction has raised over EUR 25 million, over six editions.
Timing-wise, it took the watchmakers at MB&F about four years to create the HM8 base model – but for this specific Only Watch version, it took an additional one year.
First launched in 2016 as the adrenaline-laced “Can-Am”, Horological Machine N°8 is the latest evolution of the heads-up time display that MB&F debuted five years ago with the HM5 “On the Road Again” and subsequently refined in the 2015 HMX.
The base of this unique Horological Machine N°8 is an automotive-inspired creation that takes design cues from the legendary high-octane Can-Am race. Engraved and metallised on the sapphire crystal pane that surmounts the HM8 engine is a whimsical drawing created by Cassandra Legendre (15), a student currently living in Madrid.
Legendre’s primary method of artistic expression is ballet, but she also produces remarkable drawings in her spare time. As an exception for MB&F’s contribution to the Only Watch, Legendre and her family agreed to this one-off participation to strengthen the message of HM8 Only Watch — a child creating something to help children who have been denied many of the dreams and opportunities of childhood.
The Horological Machine N°8 (ref. # 80W888) consists of a unique, automotive-inspired case made with 18K white gold and Grade 5 titanium, as well as a sapphire crystal pane engraved and metallized with a customized doodle by Cassandra Legendre.
Found directly under the etched pane is the automatic, three-dimensional HM8 “engine” which MB&F conceived and developed from a Girard-Perregaux base caliber, and which is also accompanied by a purple winding rotor. A miniature white gold elephant – created by engraver Olivier Kuhn and based on the elephant in Cassandra’s drawing – is situated between the hour and minute prism of the lateral time display, and a smiley faced double-screwed plate has replaced the original MB&F logo.
One of the elements in Legendre’s drawing is given particular prominence in the 49 mm x 51.5 mm x 19 mm case watch. The elephant, situated under the racing-inspired roll bar closest to the minutes’ disc, is reproduced in three dimensions between the optical prisms. Positioned on a tiny white-gold plinth, the micro-sculpture hand-crafted by Oliver Kuhn is a striking allusion to the majestic beast that occupies large swathes of children’s literature from Kipling to Disney. For those suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or indeed any serious health condition, the elephant’s status as an endangered animal under siege and facing an uncertain future holds particular significance and relevance.
The elephant is made of white gold and took 120 hours to complete, with its trunk tucked in and ears pulled back in a peaceful pose. Particular care and attention were paid to details such as the tusks, which measure 0.2mm in diameter at their finest point, and the eyes, measuring 0.18mm in diameter.