The HM No.2 SV © Ian Skellern
As you are no doubt aware by now, Maximilian Büsser recently unveiled the latest and most daring variation of the already exceptional Horological Machine No.2, aptly named the SV (for Sapphire Vision). If you were living under a rock (or worse still, not a subscriber to The Watch Lounge!) and you missed the announcement, you can read all about it here.
Well today we have something extra special for you. Despite the horrendous schedule he is facing in the lead up to BaselWord 2010 (which is less than 2 months away!) Maximilian has very kindly taken some time out to tell us more about his latest creation and share with us the ups and downs of attempting the impossible!
We hope you enjoy it! Please note that if you prefer, the interview is also available in French.
TWL: Firstly, let us say congratulations Maximilian as this latest piece is absolutely mind-blowing! But tell us, what motivated you to create such a challenging masterpiece from a material that is so notoriously difficult to work with? Did you ever stop to think “what am I am doing here, this is crazy!?”
MB: Thanks Tom! From day one when we created HM2, I felt it was an immense pity not to show the 349 part engine, which is not only completely three dimensional, but also designed alongside the cases’ codes and of course beautifully hand finished by Jacques Rochat’s team in the Vallée de Joux. We started experimenting on an open case top on the Only Watch Sage Vaughn version – which was already quite a challenge… and then Serge Kriknoff (my partner in the company) and I thought “what if we took it one step further…?”. And that is when the REAL challenge (ordeal ?) started!
TWL: How long did it take you to find someone that was game enough to take on the exceptional task of crafting the crystal-clear sapphire case?
MB: We contacted close to ten sapphire manufacturers (in Switzerland and outside) – three accepted the challenge. Two out of those three could not come up with a viable prototype after six months and finally only Martin Stettler, owner of Stettler in Lyss (Switzerland), managed to deliver a beautiful piece only three months ago…
© Ian Skellern
TWL: Was there ever a moment when you thought that it would simply not be possible to create this piece? How did you overcome these setbacks?
MB: I remember in September 2009 looking at Serge and asking “Now what do we do or what can we do???”, and he just raised his eyebrows and answered “wait…” and sighed. The wait was indeed extremely unnerving….
TWL: What was the most challenging aspect of creating this piece and bringing it to reality? What was the most enjoyable?
MB: It takes approximately 55 hours to complete one of these sapphire plates – between the machining, drilling, assembly and anti-reflection treatment. And three out of four prototypes broke in the process… Most time consuming is the carving out of a massive block of sapphire. Most delicate is the drilling of the 8 holes that host the case assembly screws. The plate being 3,6mm thick the diamond drills take a very long time to get through – and as it is very close to the side, 50% of the plates crack in that process. The most enjoyable is when of course you receive that first good plate and assemble the first prototype…It is like a baby being born after a very long a difficult labor.
TWL: Does the end result resemble what you originally envisioned in your mind, or is it completely different?
MB: It’s pretty much what I had in mind. The blue water resistance gasket was decided once we had done a mock up with a Plexiglas piece. Indeed with a black gasket, the whole piece was a mix of grey and black – which led to the eye not being able to focus on anything in particular, as if you mixed great tasty ingredients into a blender. So we went for this electric blue which works as the frame to the work of art.
© Ian Skellern
TWL: When you look at your final creation, what do you see? What would you like others to see in it and how would you describe this to them?
MB: It makes me think of a city seen from above through an airplane’s window. You cannot distinguish everything but discern the three dimensionality, parts of the city and certain amazing details which stand out.
TWL: Are there any specific features that you would like to especially point out to admirers that may not be immediately obvious at first glance?
MB: I would just ask them to look at the piece from far, then up close, and finally to wonder how many different machining operations were necessary to create the bloc of sapphire protecting the movement.
TWL: Looking back now on the whole process would you have done anything different in the creation of this piece? Why?
MB: No, because the result is what I had in mind, and that even though we had some sleepless nights wondering if Stettler would manage, it is now a reality, which will start deliveries in May.
TWL: Finally, what aspect of this remarkable new vision of HM2 are you most proud of and why?
MB: That it actually exists…