HM4 Thunderbolt – A Tribute To Aviation Like No Other (MB&F Style)

MB&F HM4 Thunderbolt

After months of speculation and nail-biting suspense, horological devotees the world over breathed a collective sigh of relief earlier this week as the first images of MB&F’s hotly anticipated HM4 were finally released. Given the magnitude of the occasion we thought it only pertinent that we wait a few days before presenting you with our thoughts, so as to allow us sufficient time to fully appreciate the significance of this new timepiece.

So, the question on everyone’s lips; was it worth the wait? We think so.

Before you read on though, we think it’s probably worth your while watching this video, just in case you don’t know what all the fuss is about:

The HM4 Thunderbolt
More than 3 years in the making the arrival of the HM4 Thunderbolt was arguably one of, if not the most, eagerly awaited launches of the 2010 horological calendar. A harmonious blend of micro-engineering and creative mastery, the HM4 all but obliterates the boundaries between artistic expression and conventional design.

Sadly, many will look at this piece and just see the $158,000 price tag and the outrageously non-conformist design, and dismiss both instantly as being completely impractical and therefore unattractive. And in truth, this is exactly the intention of the creator. The HM4 Thunderbolt has not been designed for the masses, quite the opposite in fact. It has been designed for individuals, and one individual in particular.

Maximilian Busser.

MB&F HM4 Thunderbolt

Last year when we first spoke to Max about his vision for MB&F and why he created the pieces he did, this is what he had to say:

When I set out to create MB&F the main goal was very simple: to please MYSELF without caring about any commercial or marketing considerations… This selfish approach allowed me to explore territories that would never have been possible in a client-oriented environment.

It is of the utmost importance, therefore, to keep this sentiment in mind when trying to understand the depth and beauty of this timepiece. It is not a traditional wrist-watch and it does not hold itself out to be. It is instead the melding of a childhood passion with a lifetime of knowledge to create an intricately complex masterpiece that is inspired by imagination.

A Personal Tribute
In Max’s own words, the HM4 is a very personal interpretation of what would happen if you crossed a piece of ultra high end horology with the world of aeronautics. It is a unique tribute to the world of aviation, as influenced by a childhood spent crafting model planes and dreams of one day taking to the skies.

And what a tribute!

MB&F HM4 Thunderbolt

Crafted from titanium and sapphire, the attention to detail is evident in every element of the sleek, aerodynamic case. The central sapphire case alone required over 150 hours of machining (that’s over 4 weeks of work) to perfect, and provides a magnificent view of the truly astonishing movement. The twin jet-engine like barrel displays take centre stage, providing the wearer with only the most basic indications required; the time and the remaining power. Twin crowns protrude from the opposing ends, each with their own special task, one for setting the time and the other for winding.     

In a rather unexpected twist (especially given the manner in which the HM3 Frog displays the time!) MB&F have chosen to use a very simple, very traditional pilot watch dial which seems to fly (no pun intended) completely in the face of the highly unconventional design. However, at the same time this choice of dial provides yet another link between Busser’s childhood passion for aviation and his present day perception, influenced by a lifetime of experience. In a sense Max is almost saying “although some things in my life have changed quite dramatically, I will always remain true to my foundations.” Or perhaps he just likes these sorts of dials!

The movement itself is another story again. Each of the 300-plus components – including the regulator and even the screws – was developed specifically for this revolutionary calibre. Horizontally configured dual mainspring barrels drive two vertical gear trains, transferring power to the twin pods indicating hours/minutes and power reserve. For the first time equal consideration is given to the movement and the case, both sufficiently complex so as to be deserving of each other.

So impressed were we by this ground-breaking movement that we dedicated an entire article to it, which you can read here.

MB&F HM4 Thunderbolt

The Final Word
In our very humble opinions this is by far the most personal offering from Maximilian Busser to date. He has laid himself bare in every aspect of this timepiece, drawing on influences from his childhood all the way through to the present day. One cannot help but stand in awe of the courage it takes for the artist to reveal themselves so personally through their creations, completely uninhibited by market expectations or consumer preferences.

For us the HM4 Thunderbolt represents the perfect blending of truly superior craftsmanship with completely unencumbered ideals. Regardless of whether you appreciate the end result or not it is undeniable that we are witnessing the realisation of one man’s dream.

And that is truly something special.

To learn more be sure to check out the official website:

Tom Mulraney
Tom is the founder and editor of The Watch Lounge. Together with his team he is dedicated to bringing you the best, original content you won't find anywhere else on the net.