Interview Maximilian Büsser (MB&F) for CH24.PL

Maximilian Büsser – founder and owner of MB&F (Max Büsser and Friends) talks about Legacy Machine No.1, creative process, passion, childhood fantasies and… certain “weird animal”.

Maximilian Büsser – graduate of the University of Lausanne with Master in Micro-Technology Engineering. Began his career in mechanical watchmaking at Jeager-LeCoultre, where he was in the senior management team for full 7 years, during the dynamic growth of the company. At the age of just 31 turned to Harry Winston as a director of the Harry Winston Rare Timepieces. For another 7 years worked on development, in cooperation with world’s best watchmakers, of the unique and revolutionary OPUS collection.

In 2005 Maximilian Büsser decided to go independent and started his own manufacture – MB&F. The core philosophy of the brand is to create, along with the team of most specialized creators (called friends of the brand) timepieces braking the very rules of the traditional art of making watches. As he states himself MB&F is not about creating watches, it’s about creating horological machines that tell time. The latest example of this original philosophy is the phenomenal Legacy Machine No.1.

CH24: Welcome Mr.Büsser, and thank you for finding some time for us.

CH24: You have just introduced your Legacy Machine No. 1 and we witnessed wave of excitement describing “the watch” as one of the most amazing and unexpected independent creations presented recently. Before we will talk about the timepiece itself, could you please guide us through the entire creation process, from the very beginning – the idea – to the final product. How was the concept such as LM No.1 born?

Maximilian Büsser: LM1 starts like with virtually all my creations in my childhood. I had two main fantasies then (and still have !) . To be able to fly – and you notice that in all my HM pieces – and to be able to travel through time. This last fantasy was fuelled by an American tv show called the “The Time Machine”: So late 2007 I started wondering “what would have happened if I had been born in 1867 instead of 1967 ?! What would have happened if I had been born in the era of all the great watchmaking inventions – when literally all that we know today (Chronograph, Perpetual Calendar, Tourbillon, Minute repeater, etc…) was invented.

Max Büsser with his LM No.1
Max Büsser with his LM No.1

I believe I would have wanted to create like today 3D Machines which give time, but of course all my childhood references (Star Wars, Grendizer, planes,…) would not have existed, so I started wondering what would have been my inspirations then ? And I realized that the 19th century was an era where man was obsessed with defying gravity ! It’s the era of the first skyscrapers, of the first metallic hanging bridges, of the Eiffel Tower, of man trying to fly, etc… So very naturally the flying Balance wheel became the star of the movement. The 19th century was also a near of the great explorers so it had to be a two Timezone movement, and finally the 19th century was an era where Machines were the stars – whole Universal Exhibitions were set up for each country to compete in presenting the most ambitious or efficient Machines, so the power reserve had to be not only vertical but also reminiscent of the levers and cams seen in all the Machines of that time.

Now, I sketched pretty quickly what was going to become the Legacy Machine No1 and had to first battle with my whole team who just initially did not understand why I would want to create such a “classic” piece of horology. Once they were convinced, Serge Kriknoff (my partner in the company and head of all technical development) and I went to find first Jean-François Mojon for the engineering and then Kari Voutilainen for the 19th century design and super high end finishing. And both said ok immediately. The dream team was assembled beginning of 1008 and the project could begin !

The rest is history…

CH24: There is an opinion, that watchmaking is returning to the classic trend – building watches related, design and mechanical-wise, to the past and classic years of simplicity, elegance and style. Your new creations seams to communicate that you might be thinking that way. What is your view on that?

MB: The whole watch industry is unfortunately being driven more and more like the fashion business, with trends and fashions following each other every one to two years. One year everyone has to mix materials “fusion”-style, the year after everyone has to do all-black, the year after back to ultra thin and vintage looking. These are all case designs which take less than twelve months to create and craft. When you develop a whole new movement from scratch as we have done, it takes a minimum of 4 years from idea to completion. This means that the Legacy Machine was designed in 2007, well before the crisis and the fashion of “back to vintage” was launched. It just happens that our piece came out in the height of that moment – and I believe that through its breakthrough innovation and real human story it will never be unfashionable.

CH24: Legacy Machine was created, as all your previous machines, in co-operation with brand’s friends. This time it was Jean-Francois Mojon and Kari Voutilainen. What was it like to work with big names, and what is their contribution to the final watch?

MB: High-end watchmaking is virtually 95% about people. The people who create, design, engineer and craft the pieces – not the tennis champions, celebrities and Formula One drivers who are paid to wear them ! . As such a creation with such fantastic minds as Jean-François and Kari is always a defining moment in time. I probably learned more about the history working alongside Kari for two years than in the rest of my twenty year career !

trio Voutilainen, Büsser and Mojon
trio Voutilainen, Büsser and Mojon

CH24: We’ve seen the watch (on pictures) and know the details of the concept behind it. But for you, what are the most important key elements and futures in LM No.1?

MB: Apart from the story of why it has been created, the incredibly innovative movement and the unparalleled hand finish, you just need to wear one to understand – the flying balance wheel is totally mesmerizing. I cannot take my eyes off it !

CH24: This might be a tough question for you: out of this two very different concepts of Horological Machines and now the Legacy Machine – which one you like more, and which represents your passion and way of thinking?

MB: Both have stemmed from my childhood – the HM from my science-fiction/super hero dreams, and the LM from my time travelling fantasies. So there is no choice to be made: I have already made it, both are important for me. It was indeed crucial for me to also create innovative classic pieces as a tribute to the 19th century watchmaking I have always admired.

CH24: What is the future for Legacy Machines? What do you plan and what’s in store from MB&F next?

MB: Legacy Machine is a new line which will see many more pieces come out but always alternating with HM pieces. So 2012 will be an HM year and 2013 an LM, and 2014 an HM, etc, etc…

CH24: Final question. You’re in watchamking for a long time, created many great pieces yourself. Out of all the watches and machines, is there the one you love and like the most? (which one and why?)

MB: I am probably a weird animal. Once one of my creations has gone into production I virtually lose interest in it. What makes my heart beat is always the pieces we are working on for the upcoming three to four years.

CH24: Thank you very much and good luck in the future.

MB: Thank you for your enthusiasm and support !

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