Independent Watch Brand
MB&F is one of those small creative brands that largely define the landscape of modern fine watchmaking. The precursor of the MB&F project was, of course, the Opus series launched by Maximilian Büsser in 2001, when he was still head of Harry Winston’s watch department. The basic idea: the managing brand invites creative watchmakers who then develop unusual watches for the brand. Both parties are expected to benefit from this collaboration, not so much by increasing sales, but by promoting the brand and improving the image and recognition of an independent watchmaker.
In 2005, Maximilian Büsser left Harry Winston to found MB&F (Maximilian Büsser & Friends), a company based entirely on the idea of collaboration. These are primarily watchmakers who advise MB&F or are directly involved in the manufacture of watches, but also designers and suppliers of parts, components and services. MB&F also collaborates with other watch brands, practically laying the foundation for this trend in the modern industry.
Initially, MB&F produced futuristic or retro-futuristic Horological Machine models. In 2007, Horological Machine No. 1 was introduced. With its unorthodox eight-shaped case, tourbillon in the center and four series-parallel winding barrels, it was developed in collaboration with independent watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin. The main supplier of the caliber parts was the Dimier factory, owned by Pascal Raffy (Bovet). New Horological Machines followed, from HM2 to HM10, as well as HMX, which was released in 2015 to celebrate the brand’s 10th anniversary.
In 2011, in response to frequent customer requests for classic-style watches, Maximilian Büsser introduced the Legacy Machine No. 1, which turned out to be the first birth of the second pillar of the brand's collection. The Legacy Machine No. 1 features an impressively large balance wheel that floats above the dial under a tall, spherical sapphire crystal. This unusual design was carried over into all subsequent Legacy Machines, including tourbillons (the balance wheel as part of the tourbillon again above the dial) as well as the extraordinary perpetual calendar LM Perpetual and chronograph LM Sequential, both developed in collaboration with watchmaker Stephen McDonnell. The Legacy Machine releases aren't numbered consecutively, making it difficult to navigate the release order of the various models.
The third pillar of the MB&F collection consists of models from the two main collections that were created as collaborations, in that the artistically talented people invited also offered their own version of the design. This kind of double collaboration is nothing unusual for MB&F – currently there are 16 projects, all of which have been released as unique pieces or limited editions. The first experience with this type of dual collaboration was the HM2.2 Black Box model, developed with designer and former owner of his own brand Alain Silberstein, one of the pioneers of the collaboration trend in the industry. Undoubtedly of interest to collectors are the two models MoonMachine and MoonMachine 2, created in collaboration with Finnish independent watchmaker Stepan Sarpaneva.
Art objects, and they aren’t only watches, are the fourth pillar of the MB&F collection. These are mainly clocks designed by MB&F guest designers and manufactured by L’Epée 1839, the famous specialist in clockmaking. There are currently fifteen MB&F x L’Epée 1839 collaborations. MB&F also produced five different MusicMachines with music box specialist Reuge, AstroGraph fountain pens with Caran d’Ache and Project LpX watch magnifiers with Loupe System company.
MB&F watches and art objects are undoubtedly of interest to collectors, as they’re mainly produced in limited editions or as unique pieces in collaboration with other creative brands, independent watchmakers and designers. High-quality workmanship and finishing, unusual, extraordinary designs, complications and movements significantly increase the value of watches, clocks and art objects from MB&F.