Ultra Violet: MB&F HMX Black Badger
Designer James Thompson brings his glow-in-the-dark advanced materials to bear on the HMX, producing fun representations of time that defy convention.
When we heard about HMX Black Badger, we were – frankly – flummoxed. What sort of watch emerges from rage, I wondered as I went to see the actual piece at Baselworld this year, along with my colleague from Men’s Folio Singapore. So, the press release said the watch features “three-dimensional objects” milled from “solid light.” The science geek in me recoils at such phrasing but nevertheless, I was curious and keen to learn what alchemical tricks James Thompson – the MB&F friend of the moment – had used to transform his rage into solid light. First of all, this is a new version of the HMX, so-called because it was the anniversary piece from MB&F in 2015. At that time, it was the most affordable MB&F wristwatch and spelled out founder Max Büsser’s vision for his watches because the words A Creative Adult is a Child who Survived are engraved on the caseback. In a very direct way, this takes us back to Thompson and why his rage against the machine appealed to Büsser (whom we sometimes just call Max).
Thompson’s creativity comes from being unceremoniously ejected from a masters program in Sweden due to an administrative change in how the university handled international students – Thompson is Canadian. He founded Black Badger Advanced Composites and proceeded to make a name for himself in creating glowing rings, powered by a material called AGT Ultra. Thompson’s rebellious streak and creativity were obvious draws for Büsser, who himself railed against conventions in the watch trade when he established MB&F.
Ok, so what is this HMX Black Badger then? Well, the basic configuration of the HMX remains unchanged – it still displays only hours (jumping) and minutes (trailing) via sapphire crystal windows along the case middle. What has changed is visible fully from the top because the so-called engine rocker covers are now in what the press release calls “lume” but that Thompson calls AGT Ultra. Basically, this is a material that absorbs light which is especially sensitive to the UV range; the resulting illumination is significantly brighter than any SuperLuminova I have ever seen. Thanks to how the numerals display with the HMX, they will actually glow in a color that matches the AGT Ultra shade. There are three options with this watch: Radar Green, Phantom Blue and Purple Reign. Each version is limited to 18 pieces.
- Dimensions: 46.8 x 44.3 x 20.7mm
- Functions: Bi-directional jumping hours, trailing minutes (these are displayed via dual reflective sapphire crystal prisms and integrated magnifying lens)
- Power Reserve: 42 hours
- Movement: Automatic Selita gear train with in-house jumping hour and trailing minutes module
- Material: Grade 5 titanium and steel
- Water Resistance: 30 meters
- Strap: Partially perforated calfskin strap with color complementary to Engine rocker covers, titanium tang buckle