MB&F Turns HM4 Thunderbolt Prototype Into Piece Unique

MB&F Turns HM4 Thunderbolt Prototype Into Piece Unique

Adrienne Faurote
By Adrienne Faurote November 24, 2020

In 2010, MB&F launched the HM4 Thunderbolt. This aviation-inspired watch was even among the rest of the collection of the brand an eyecatcher. That same year it also won the prize for Best Concept & Design Watch at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). Its construction, of both the case and the movement, was complex, even by MB&F standards. Only 100 were made, the last one being delivered to a collector years ago. To commemorate its 10th anniversary, MB&F took the original prototype of the HM4 Thunderbolt and made it into a piece unique.

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To turn this watch into something truly exceptional, MB&F took, not surprisingly, its inspiration from aviation history. The Curtiss P-40, built between 1938 and 1944, was one of the most essential aircrafts of the allied in WWII, playing a vital part in winning the war. It carried many nicknames, among them Kittyhawk, which MB&F adopted for this particular piece. Some of the Curtiss P-40’s were painted with a shark mouth and eyes at the front of the plane, making them more fearsome, and in the end, iconic. 

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Miniaturist painter Isabelle Villa was responsible for painting the HM4 Kittyhawk with great detail. To accommodate the painting, MB&F treated the side of the case by removing microns of titanium, following the illustrations’ shape. This way, the painting became flush with the case. To protect it, a final coat of transparent varnish seals off the paint. As a finishing touch, MB&F aged the time and power reserve dials. This gives the watch a vintage look, amplified by the matching calf-skin strap. Now the watch that was the first is also the last to fly out of the manufacture of MB&F, as a piece unique honoring one of the most iconic aircraft of WWII.