Life is about choice in most things: you can choose to be a banker, or you can choose to be a builder. You can create a part of the system, or you can choose to work outside of it. Some people just choose to be something completely different and that is exactly what Maximilian Büsser did.
He worked within the traditional watch world starting at Jaeger-LeCoultre and becoming part of its senior management team. Later he was appointed MD of Harry Winston Rare Timepieces aged just 31 and during his time there he transformed the company into a well-respected haute horology brand.
But in 2005, he chose to create something utterly unique and brought some of the best minds and talents together in the M.A.D. House to build watches (clocks and art) born from historic tradition but not limited by its expectations.
I have been a fanboy of MB&F (Maximilian Büsser & Friends) since 2010 with the release of the HM4 (Horological Machine) – the two models in this collection are known as Razzle Dazzle and Double Trouble – and I have followed them ever since.
I had the opportunity to try one on a while back in Marcus on Bond Street, and I loved it the instant I put it on. If you want to have a look at the range now you will need to venture onto Regent Street to Watches of Switzerland. You can’t miss it, it's massive (think Hamleys for big kids) and it’s now the only authorised dealer in the country.
This November, MB&F has launched another revolutionary watch – quite literally, as you can rotate the case.
The Horological Machine No11 is truly a thing to behold. It takes its design cues from the postmodern architects of the 1960s.
The movement consists of 364 components: starting with a vertically stacked 60-second flying tourbillon, housed under a double-domed sapphire crystal; this controls the power which is transferred to the four “rooms” through conical gears (an MB&F speciality). The first three rooms house the time, power reserve indicator, and a thermometer, which is a rather rare thing on a watch. It was invented by the great Breguet himself, and first put in a watch designed for Marie Antoinette.
And on the fourth side, there’s an oversized crown of sapphire crystal – a world first – to wind the four days of power reserve.
Another world first is that you can also rotate the entire case on its base, which in turn will also wind the movement.
The case itself, surprisingly only 42mm in diameter, is made up of 92 components, including 19 gaskets that make the watch water-resistant – although, I’d be loath to risk testing this.
MB&F watches do not come cheap, roughly costing twice a king’s ransom, or your average MP’s monthly expenses bill – and the Horological Machine No11 is no exception with a price tag of somewhere in the region of £222,000, (advertised at CHF 198,000 + VAT).
But you will be getting your hands on a very limited edition – with only 25 of each design being built worldwide this is an exclusive club to be a member of. But like many of MB&F’s watches, it is much more than just that; it is a working piece of art.
Please go and dive into the world of MB&F, the company, the watches, and the people behind them. Then maybe look left and right and get lost in the joys of lesser-known and often-overlooked brands.
See more at Maximilian Büsser and Friends.