An Interview With Max Büsser
Publisher and Editor
Posted 14 September, 2006
the world by stepping away from your success of completely rebuilding
Harry Winston to start your own brand. Why?
Winston, I fostered what was then a small baby into what has become a
rather handsome, independent and energetic adult. Time had therefore come
for me to leave and raise my own child. Clearly, one of the many luxuries
I afforded myself in the creation of MB&F was to part with Harry Winston
in the midst of a very successful drive, leaving my team in a strong
position and with all the tools to take the company to the next level.
How and when
did the MB&F concept come to you?
It was three years
ago, in a plane flying back from Singapore. While I was staring at one of
the sketches, the thought slowly dawned on me that it was a great base for
a new Opus watch. While I was mentally perfecting the concept, suddenly
the thought of MB&F hit me. As the Opus projects were by far the most
thrilling and fulfilling experiences in my (at the time) 12 years in the
watch world, how incredible would it be to create a brand only based on
Is it true that
with each project you’ll publish the names of everyone involved in the
watch, from the case maker to the PR writer?
pleasure of an experience if we cannot share it with friends? So, with
MB&F, I would like to gather and work only with people I appreciate and
admire as professionals and human beings. MB&F is, above all, a true
human adventure, a Concept Brand, where each piece will be a concentration
of creativity. This is achieved thanks to exceptional human talent, not
through CNC machines and marketing. So it seems right to me to position
human beings back in the limelight. It’s probably no coincidence that I
have always been a movie buff. Among many other jobs, I was a cinema usher
to finance part of my studies and it seems only natural to credit each
person involved in the project like the credits at the end of a movie.
How would you
the exact definition of what we stand for. We are a gathering of
independent talents only for the time of one exceptional creation, who
then go their own ways. It is mostly used for artists and architects. The
idea is that each year the ‘collective’ should vary in order to keep
creativity the essence of the game and to maximize the talents of each
watches be at Opus price points?
Very much so, and
the connoisseurs will be very positively amazed by their value-for-money
Are you designing the watches?
I tend to have many ideas and do the doodling…but Eric
Giroud is the man, the real designer. Eric has spent over 300 hours
finalizing the first piece in this series. I must have spent a third of
that time with him, and it’s easy for me to say he has become one of my
best friends during this adventure.
The success of
the Opus 5 gave a huge push to the now cult brand Urwerk. Will you
collaborate with Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner again soon?
The association of
Felix’s and Martin’s respective enormous talents will unleash some of the
most amazing horological products of the next decades. It would of course
be an honor and a great pleasure for me to work with them again to develop
an MB&F creation.
In a world
filled with increasingly wilder, ‘modernist’ interpretations of time, what
distinguishes an MB&F as a horologically legitimate timepiece with real
At MB&F we create
concepts. Our timepieces are built as horological machines with a very
strong identity, not fashion accessories. Each watch movement is unique,
created and crafted from scratch by some of the most talented independents
in our domain. Each watch is like a concept car produced in a very small
series but crafted and finished to the highest level in the industry.
We hear that
there is a strong architectural design sense to the watches. can you tell
us more about this?
Each timepiece is
created to be a time machine. Case and movement are developed
simultaneously; no more single volume cases with a couple of hands placed
on a flat dial, as we have been witnessing for the last 200 years. I was
very much helped in this by Eric, who before becoming a very talented
designer was an architect. Together with the movement designers, we
actually built a symbiotic machine––case and movement designed in
Will you modify
pre-existing calibers or commission new movements?
The first MB&F
caliber has been created from scratch. Most of the time, we will adopt
this solution, but so as to achieve more approachable retail prices on
some pieces in the pipeline, we will work on modular concepts. Our goal
is not only innovation, but also reliability––a concept that is sometimes
overlooked in “niche” products––so we will use reliable existing
components where possible.
watches convey your passion for high performance automobiles like the TVR,
Marcos and Ascari in their design?
One of my
colleagues already crafts ‘racing machines for the wrist’ and does it
extraordinarily well! Having said that, I installed a Marcos dashboard as
a screensaver on my computer a couple of months ago… and the effects are
already being witnessed on MB&F. More importantly, the abovementioned car
brands are crafted by enthusiasts for enthusiasts––very close to what we
are enjoying with the ‘Friends’.
If the first
watch from MB&F had an equivalent in the automotive world or in the world
of cinema, what car or film would it be?
The Tucker! (Let’s
forget for a minute that the whole American car industry drove Preston
Tucker into bankruptcy). For the film,
What kind of
freedom does being the owner and creator of MB&F give you?
I am indeed the
sole shareholder and owner of MB&F, a big personal investment and risk,
but I couldn’t think of it any other way. I cannot have investors pushing
me to deliver high growths and profits to pay back their investments.
MB&F is not only a business venture; it is, above all, a life decision for
When will you
unveil the first MB&F watches?
The watchmaking world
has taught me the virtues of patience. So if all goes according to plan,
between August and September.
Thanks to Revolution Press for making this interview available to TimeZone. Please visit the Revolution web site!
Read Ian Skellern's Article on the
MB&F Horological Machine No. 1
Read Wei Koh's interview with
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