It’s been 5 years since we saw the first collaboration between MB&F and Stepan Sarpaneva, the 2012 MoonMachine that was based on Horological Machine N°3 “Frog”. As stunning as the first MoonMachine was, with the signature Sarpaneva moons rotating through the metallised Korona on the movement sapphire crystal, the new MoonMachine 2 surpasses it.

There’s a mad moon rising over the 2018 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie.

Stepan Sarpaneva
Stepan Sarpaneva

MoonMachine 2 features the world’s first projected moonphase, echoing the illusory natural phenomenon of moonlight (which is actually projected sunlight, since the moon gives off no light of its own).

The base of MoonMachine 2 is Horological Machine N°8, which utilises an optical prism to transmit the horizontal reading of the hours and minutes onto a vertical plane — providing the iconic “heads-up” display of HM8 (and its predecessors HM5 and HMX).

MB&F MoonMachine 2

In MoonMachine 2, a moonphase disc, set with miniature moons, is fitted between the hour and minute discs. As with the time display, the fascinating aspect of the moonphase indication is how it appears in a space which is too small to fully contain it. Although the prisms refracting the hour and minute discs are cut to magnify the indications by 20 percent, allowing for greater legibility, the moonphase prism provides no magnification, as to do so would distort the appearance of the moon. Close examination of the prisms show their distinct sections, highlighting MB&F’s attention to detail and determination to find the best solution for each display.

A moonphase disc, set with miniature moons, is fitted between the hour and minute discs
A moonphase disc, set with miniature moons, is fitted between the hour and minute discs

There are three gold moons in MoonMachine 2, one that is 8.5mm in diameter and 0.45mm thick, and two smaller ones that are 4.5mm in diameter and a whisper-thin 0.35mm thick. The smaller moons are so delicate at their thinnest point of 0.07mm around the eyes, that they can easily be perforated and have to be discarded. Their tiny dimensions are such that their features can hardly be distinguished even by the experienced fingertips of Stepan Sarpaneva and his team, making the hand-finishing process extremely arduous.

These are the smallest moons that Stepan Sarpaneva has created, and he estimates that the extreme challenges of producing them means that about 80 percent of the moons will eventually be discarded.

MB&F MoonMachine 2
Closed up to the MB&F MoonMachine 2
The tiny moons can hardly be distinguished even by the experienced fingertips of Stepan Sarpaneva and his team
The tiny moons can hardly be distinguished even by the experienced fingertips of Stepan Sarpaneva and his team

The metallisation on the rearward sapphire crystal pane of MoonMachine 2 echoes the radial grid pattern that will be familiar to aficionados of Sarpaneva’s work. When asked about the decision to implement a projected moonphase, Sarpaneva cites Max Büsser’s penchant for pushing him to the limits of his skill, saying, “Max always throws me the projects that are not the easiest — the ones that are a challenge. The challenge in the HM8 was how to add something to it that can really raise the level of something that already has the impact of a projected time display.”

Five years might seem like a long time to wait for another watch from MB&F and Stepan Sarpaneva, but in my opinion it’s definitely worth the wait.

MoonMachine 2 Technical Specifications

MoonMachine 2 is based on a specially configured HM8; the projector moon complication was imagined, designed and created by Stepan Sarpaneva. It is available in three limited editions of 12 pieces each.

Engine

• Three-dimensional engine conceived and developed by MB&F from a Girard-Perregaux base calibre, with moonphase complication by Stepan Sarpaneva

• Automatic PVD-coated titanium rotor with Sarpaneva gold moon

• Power reserve: 42 hours

• Balance frequency: 28,800bph / 4Hz

• Number of components: 293

• Number of jewels: 30

• Bi-directional jumping hours, trailing minutes and moonphase displayed by one optical prism that reflects vertically. The hour and minutes segments are magnified by 20 percent.

• The dual moons rotate under a Korona ring and are corrected by a pusher

Case

• Three limited editions of 12 pieces each: Natural titanium case, white gold moon faces, light-blue sky; Black titanium case, white gold moon faces, dark-blue sky; Red gold and titanium case, red gold moon faces, anthracite sky.

• Dimensions: 49 mm x 51.5 mm x 19.5 mm

• Number of components: 59 components

• Water resistance: 30 m / 3 atm

• All sapphire crystals – front, back, top, bottom – treated with anti-reflective coating on both faces. Top plate with special metallisation.

Strap & buckle

• Titanium version: Light Blue hand-stitched Black alligator strap with titanium folding buckle.

• Black Titanium version: Dark Blue hand-stitched Black alligator strap with titanium folding buckle.

• Red Gold version: Grey hand-stitched Black alligator strap with red gold and titanium folding buckle.