For the regular readers of Deployant, we think that MB&F is perhaps a brand that needs no further introduction.
MB&F, which debuted in 2005, recently just launched its 20th calibre – which incidentally won the “Aiguille d’Or” award at the most recent Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (“GPHG”). Even with the collaborations and prowess of the independent watch manufacturer, it is no mean feat for the effervescent Maximillian Büsser, the head honcho of the eponymous brand, and his watchmaking friends.
Having recently visited the newly opened MB&F Lab by The Hour Glass, which currently displays all the twenty MB&F calibres that were produced in the last 17 years, we were awe-struck by the brilliance of Max and his team. Even though we have been exposed to many of MB&F’s watches, seeing all 20 pieces at a single location is mind-boggling, to say the least. It also reminded the author of his first encounter with the world of independent watchmaking many years ago, with the then-esoteric Horological Machine 3.
We think that there is no better way to pay homage to Max and MB&F, on this special milestone, than to feature some of our favourite watches from the brand. Although, truth to be told, narrowing down to just six pieces is not exactly the simplest of task around….
MB&F Horological Machine 3
Perhaps it might just be the author, but we strongly believe that it is the Horological Machine 3 that had caught the world’s attention and put MB&F into the spotlight.
Introduced in 2009, the quirky timepiece features two domes – to indicate the hour and minutes. There are several iterations of the HM3, in which the “Frog” – which houses two re-created domes that resembles the eyes of the amphibian – is perhaps the most well-known of all. The watch is notably built on a Girard-Perregaux base, and the engine was conceived for the brand by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht.
There is just something about the HM3, and this is without a doubt one of the most iconic timepieces in MB&F’s repertoire. We think the success of the series does speak for itself.
MB&F Legacy Machine 101
The LM101 may be the entry-level model of MB&F, but do not underestimate this timepiece. It is a damn fine watch, and one that is worthy to be placed at the highest echelons of watchmaking.
Based on the Legacy Machine 1 and 2, the LM101 is a more toned-down version of its brethren with a smaller case (40mm, as opposed to 44mm) and a less complicated movement. That, however, does not mean that the LM101 is a lesser watch. The watch features an in-house developed movement, with finishing specification and aesthetic design by master watchmaker Kari Voutilainen. Both the front and back of the LM101 are truly wonderful sights to behold.
Despite being an entry-level watch, the LM101 has all the characteristics of an excellent watch. Great design, brilliant attention to detail, and a movement with finishing techniques to die for. What else do you really want?
MB&F Horological Machine 5
The HM5 “On the Road Again” is a fascinating piece, combining cues from both the 1970s and the future to create a rather unique timepiece.
There are several inspirations behind the HM5, most notably the silhouette of the famous Lamborghini Miura, Girard-Perregaux’s “Cassette” watch, and the Amida Digitrend. The result is a contemporary timepiece with an unusual vertical digital time display. In order to achieve this, a wedged-shaped sapphire prism is used to refract and magnify the discs at the desired angle. There is also a lever to open and close the shutters on the top of the case, which allow light to enter and charge the luminescence material on the discs.
While it may not be the most technically complicated watch by MB&F, there is a certain charm to the HM5. Designing and conceptualising ideas are also strong suits of MB&F, and this watch surely exemplifies that.
MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual
The LM Perpetual, which debuted in 2015, is MB&F’s first timepiece with the perpetual calendar complication. But as with MB&F, there is more than just what meets the eye.
MB&F’s interpretation of the perpetual calendar complication is not just a pretty face. This watch features a reworked perpetual complication system by Stephen McDonnell, in which it completely omits the traditional grand levier. This allows the balance wheel to be placed on the dial side (a signature of the LM collection), as well as ensuring that mechanically, the dates changes instantaneously and that jamming gears are a thing of the past.
This timepiece paved the way for more complicated watches in the LM collection, such as the most recent LM Sequential which features one of the most complicated chronograph systems around. But before we go further, we certainly have to acknowledge that the LM Perpetual is a stunning piece, and one that ticks all the right boxes.
MB&F Horological Machine 9
MB&F’s watches are often also touted as “wearable art”, and the HM9 “Flow” shows us exactly how with its sensuous and sculpture-like case.
Drawing inspirations from classic cars and planes – most notably the Mercedes-Benz W196 race car and the sleek De Havilland Venom plane – the HM9 is a stunningly gorgeous watch with smooth flowing lines. Looks aside, the watch also features a movement that incorporates two fully independent balance wheels with planetary differential, as well as a vertical timing display.
There is pretty much nothing in the horological world that looks remotely like the HM9. The voluptuous and provocative watch is in a league of its own, combining unconventional (yet beautiful) designs with working principles of haute horlogerie. Even by MB&F’s high standards, the HM9 is a truly spectacular timepiece.
MB&F Legacy Machine Sequential EVO
Last but not least, we have the latest timepiece from MB&F: LM Sequential EVO.
The new kid on the block may just be the most impressive MB&F watch thus far. The LM Sequential EVO is not just the first MB&F timepiece to feature the chronograph, but it also introduces the complication in a completely new light with the help of Stephen McDonnell. Here, we have two separate chronographs which can be operated independently, or simultaneously through the “Twinverter” mechanism. In fact, the “Twinverter” can also stop the operation of one chronograph, while initiating the operation of another. Talk about mechanical ingenuity.
We have always been fans of both Max’s and his partners’ works. The LM Sequential EVO here is a living proof of the incredible minds behind the brand, and the products that they are capable of producing. This watch certainly cements MB&F’s position as the leading independent watchmaking brand, if they are not already there.
Where do we start? Many superlatives have been used to describe the works of Max and his friends, but words are not enough to do justice to these masterpieces. It is difficult to describe the emotional experiences that one develops upon an encounter with a MB&F timepiece, and frankly, we highly recommend everyone to at least indulge in this opportunity when there is a chance to do so (such as the ongoing exhibition at MB&F Lab, in Singapore).
There is just something with MB&F’s watches that appeals to us. Perhaps it is the unconventional nature of the designs, or the boldness of the concepts. These are things that we admire, but to bring it to life in such exceptional means is indeed a different ball game altogether. There are very few individuals who can achieve that, and Max is one of these few incredible geniuses whom the industry is very lucky to have. The horological scene, to a certain extent, might have been very different without Max and his partners (and a few more extraordinary luminaries, for which we will save the topic on another occasion).
20 calibres, in 17 years, is an incredible feat. But knowing Max, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We are definitely excited to see what the future brings for MB&F.