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20th Anniversary
MB&F - 20 years, 10 minutes and 10 questions for  Max Büsser

MB&F 20 years, 10 minutes and 10 questions for Max Büsser

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, WorldTempus is taking 10 minutes at a time to talk to some of the major figures in the watchmaking world. We ask them how they got where they are today. The answers offer some revealing insights. On your marks...

Where were you 20 years ago?
I was in Geneva, launching the Opus 1 with Harry Winston. It was a particularly euphoric time of my life! It took me three years, from 1998 to 2000, to save Harry Winston’s watchmaking division. The following year, 2001, was to be the start of a wonderful adventure, but also the start of the craziness. You know how things turned out with MB&F! In a way, I was at the start of a voyage of discovery of myself.

What kind of watches did you wear at the time?
I think I probably wore a Harry Winston Excenter Timezone. There were plenty of other watches I fancied, but obviously I didn’t have the budget to match my ambitions!

And what were your ambitions, 20 years ago?
I was in the process of discovering that I had the ability to be a CEO, and to save a company. It was the end of one cycle and the beginning of the next. I was dreaming about launching something – something that would become MB&F. My father died a few months later, towards the end of 2001, and that was the trigger for me to commit to creating MB&F. 

What were your main interests at that time?
I didn’t really have any. Not because of a lack of ideas, just a lack of time. I was a complete workaholic. I worked 16 hours a day, and there simply wasn’t room for anything else.

20 years, 10 minutes and 10 questions for  Max Büsser

Maximilian Büsser © MB&F

Did you have any idea where you would end up 20 years later?
No, not yet. I was 34. I was just beginning to understand what I was capable of. Although I hadn’t had any management responsibilities with Jaeger-LeCoultre, my new position as CEO of Harry Winston showed me that I was capable of managing a company. My main ambition at that time was to prove to Mr Winston, who had recruited me, that I was worthy of the trust he had placed in me. And that’s what I did, to the best of my abilities. 

What has been your main achievement of the last 20 years? 
To have succeeded in creating a genuine balance between my professional and private life. Eight years ago, my first daughter was born. Four years ago, the second arrived. The fact that I found a balance between the craziness of running my own business, and my family life, is my main accomplishment of recent years. If I’d only talked about MB&F, half of my answer would have been missing. 

How has your personal life changed in the last 20 years?
There are two kinds of people in life: those who give and those who take. Twenty years ago, I was in the second category. Today, I’m happy to be one of the former. I’m a giver. 

In your opinion, what has been the biggest change in the watchmaking world, in the last 20 years? 
I think there has been an unprecedented polarisation between the big industrial watch manufacturers and the artisanal micro-brands. Before, there were many more brands that fell somewhere between the two. Today, you’re either one or the other. There’s virtually no middle ground.

What do you think is the best thing that could happen to watchmaking in the next 20 years?
I hope it rediscovers a taste for creativity. For me, that’s the most important thing. Today, it’s pretty obvious that other considerations have taken precedence.

Where do you think you might be in 20 years’ time?
Twenty years ago, I was a young man full of certainties. I blew them all out of the water! Today, the only thing I’m sure about is that I’m not sure of anything. And I love that! That 30-year-old man full of certainty has grown into a man who takes extraordinary pleasure in plotting his own course for the future.


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