MB&F 2010 – 2020 : the top 5 MB&F timepieces of the decade.
Worldtempus is taking a look back at the past decade to pick the most interesting, relevant and outstanding achievements of several major brands. The series goes on with MB&F.
Saying that MB&F has upended the horological landscape is an understatement. By the extent to which Maximilian Büsser's, its founder, childhood imagination is integral to the brand. By the collaborative guidelines it lives by, which explains the « &F » part of their name. By its outside-the-box sense of design, which encompasses wristwatches, music boxes and several types of clocks. By its ability to toy with memes, stemming from pop culture or science-fiction, as well as with horological tools. By its sense of humor, which really underlines its whole aesthetics. And by its tremendous influence on the rest of the industry, proof of which is its fame, which is far from reflecting its actual revenues. Summing up their 12 Horological Machines, 7 Legacy Machines, 10 collaborative timepieces and 17 artefacts, here are the brand's five most telling creations. What they have in common is really to tell time and to be odd ones out.
In 2009, HM1 rolls into a horological landscape that is already pretty shook up. Wide watches, crazy tourbillons and innovative complications are already on many wrists and many more minds. But Horological Machine 1 looks like nothing else and goes beyond anything that had been done with a watch. A sideways eight. An analemma. The infinity symbol. A bean. Call that shape what you will, it's what it is made for, no matter what its creators may think. On the inside, a central tourbillon, separate display of hours and minutes, a 7-day power reserve, based on a completely unheard-of construction. Manufactured in a very small batch. With a pioneering use of sapphire. And a double-ax-shaped rotor. Enough said. HM1 was plain awesome.
MB&F Horological Machine 1, aka HM1 © MB&F
The following Horological Machines have been several kinds of crazy. But HM6 has topped it all. The mind still comes up short when asked to describe it. Maybe, in the end, is it a spaceship. But that's far from painting a full picture of this wristwatch and its mind-boggling curves. Imagine for just a second that you're in charge of satin-brushing this thing made of extra-hard titanium with zero flat surface, zero regular curve ! And it's not just a feat manufacturing it. It also pushes the envelope in terms of construction : hours, minutes and rotors are spread to all four corners of a very large main-plate shaped like a lunar rover, organized around a central tourbillon which can be opened and shut at will. A kid's toy, only with four extra zeros.
MB&F Horological Machine 6, aka HM6 © WorldTempus / David Chokron
JWLYMACHINE may be the mot underrated MB&F creation. And yet, what a feat it was. Creating a limited series with Boucheron showed MB&F knew how to make big friends with deep and specific cultural roots, ie a Place Vendôme historical jeweler, not just with watch-centered lunatics. The name of that game was : turn an HM3 into an owl...and I apologize for the abruptness of that description. Consider this. A design that can evolve thus shows its relevance. MB&F had been accused of being too light, too anecdotal, which meant they weren't, as a brand, able to create horological icons. Yet the transformation of that watch into this creative piece of jewelry was so strong, so smart, so well executed that the only thing haters could do was shut up. A gold, titanium and quartz case, breast feathers made of intaglio quartz, feathers made of rubellite, diamonds and sapphires, the abstract time-keeping machine had come alive. Even if MB&F didn't follow through on the concept, and despite its naturalist nature, this machine was truly, deeply mad.
MB&F JWLRYMACHINE © MB&F
As early as 2013, MB&F furthered its collaborative and creative nature to the design of artefacts. Those gave Reube, a musicbox maker, and l'Epée, a clockmaker, new blood and therefore, a second take on life. Among all the formats they came up with, space-rockets, orbital stations, robots and armored vehicles, Medusa stands out the most. If you're going to make a hybrid object, let it be hybrid up to the way it is used. So Medusa can either be set on a table or hung from a ceiling. It comes in green, pink or blue Murano mouth-blown glass. And more than any other MB&F product, it is meant to be looked at even more than to be used. Which is the very definition of a beautiful object.
MB&F + L'Epée 1839 Medusa © MB&F
In 2011, MB&F understood they needed to tone things down a little and create a collection with quieter, more traditional design, without giving up on the crazy. The nature of Legacy Machines is to take an element of future and inject it into a design of the past. But it took the LM Thunderdome to reach its full potential. A three-axis tourbillon sits under a wide sapphire dome, next to a head up, sideways display. It is true this Machine takes a cue from others. But it makes them complete because it blends the insanity of extreme technicality, extreme design and extremely classic workmanship, as witnessed by its gorgeous movement. This fusion and expression of extremes is what we've come to expect from MB&F.
MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome © David Chokron/Worldtempus