Happy birthday MB&F – 10 years of creativity

As the Swiss watch company gives itself a birthday present, we take a look back at some of its craziest designs.

Matthew Priest August 11, 2015

‘A creative adult is a child who survived’. That is the whimsical phrase etched on to the back on the extraordinary new HMX timepiece from MB&F. 

Undoubtedly, one of those ‘children who survived’ was Max Busser – the former head of watchmaking at Harry Winston who went solo ten years ago in order to launch the eponymous company that has made its reputation from its creativity. 

Famed for creating mind-bendingly complicated and quirky designs (at some pretty mind-bending prices) MB&F celebrates its first decade, with a present for itself. 

Instead of developing an ultra-expensive anniversary piece – standard practice in the luxury horology world – MB&F has launched the HMX (Horological Machine 10, below) with pieces retailing at approximately AED 100,000, instead of the usual AED 250,000. A bargain, no? 

The watch itself plays on the idea of childhood wonder. Max spent his youth dreaming about becoming a car designer. So, taking inspiration from the sketchbooks of his younger self, the HMX is an automobile-inspired piece, which has bi-directional jumping hours and trailing minutes. 

Apparently simple, but it is how and where the time is displayed that makes the HMX special. Rotating discs on top of the movement feature mirror image numerals. These are reflected 90° and magnified to "project" the time onto the front vertical display. 

Light streaming through the transparent engine cover both illuminates the top of HMX's engine and backlights the time display for high legibility. It really is a piece of childhood wonder.

What the HMX really emphasises about MB&F is that after a decade of production, it continues to stay true to its highly unique and flamboyant style.

Afterall, in the years that have passed since Max Busser started out on his own, his company has not really made timepieces so much as it has creations of modern art and intricate engineering feats of wonder, that happen to tell the time. 

In acknowledgement of MB&F’s 10th anniversary, here are three other timepieces from the Swiss company that leave our jaws on the floor every time we see them. 

HM4 Thunderbolt 

If you’re wondering whether the HM4 was based on a pair of binoculars or a jet engine, it was the latter. But we don’t blame you for thinking the former. 

The case blends high-tech titanium for its lightweight and strength with a sapphire centre section offering a view into the engine. 

On one of the jets (binocular lenses) sits the watch face, and the other the power reserve indicator. There are two limited edition versions: the Razzle Dazzle and Double Trouble. 

HM6 Space Pirate

When the HM6 came out, the horology world lost its head. Unsurprisingly for a watch that looks like it’s drunk, it has the nickname ‘Space Pirate’. 

The completely untraditional watch face, and that’s putting it mildly, displays the time through two sapphire crystal spheres at the front – if you can figure out which side the front is. The other two spheres house spherical turbines that moderate the watch’s winding mechanism.

To prevent harmful UV rays damaging the watch (?!) the HM6 has a retractable titanium casing to cover up the flying tourbillon when not in use. 

Starfleet Machine 

Obviously this isn’t a wristwatch, but given MB&F’s reputation we felt the need to clarify if you’re unsure.

The company also makes what it calls ‘performance art’ machines. There are some great examples – the Music Machine and Melchiot in particular – but the Starfleet is the one we’d all probably have in our living room if we were given the choice.

Actually crafted and engineered by L’Epée 1839, MB&F only designed this table clock/futuristic sundial. What was it designed on, you ask? Star Trek’s Deep Space Nine space station, of course.

The time is surprisingly easy to tell for a change, just glance at the black domes on top - yeah, simple. The movement beats with an accuracy of -2 to +2 minutes over its 40 days power reserve.

Details: for more visit mbandf.com