Max Busser, the MB in MB&F (the F is for “friends”) is a maverick watchmaker whose outlandish, outrageously expensive inventions are coveted by the world’s most zealous collectors. His latest creation, the $109,870 MB&F Horological Machine No. 8 — which includes a frame milled from solid blocks of titanium — is inspired by Can-Am race cars of the 1970s.
You’ve said you used to dream of becoming a car designer as a child. What were your favourite designs?
I was glued to all the concept cars that brands would present at car shows. For the little boy growing up in the seventies, I imagined cars would be insanely cool in 2016 – not the boring boxes we live with today. Shareholder value and marketers killed all my dreams. I am so happy today I don’t work in the car industry!
What do you say to someone who asks, “Why is this watch worth so much?”
In the last 10 years we have witnessed a scary de-correlation between price and value. Because the primary reason for owning a beautiful mechanical timepiece has shifted from appreciation of artisanship and creativity to
pure need of status, more and more buyers are totally clueless about quality and workmanship. And when that happens, brands can sell them any piece of industrial junk packaged in a cool marketing story at any price.
Real artisan watchmaking, like ours, necessitates two to three years of R&D and engineering, then 12 to 18 months to craft and hand finish the 300 to 600 tiny components making up the movement. Then it takes a highly-skilled master watchmaker three to four weeks to assemble. These are real works of art, which need over 40 different skills to craft.
Why do you call your pieces “horological machines”?
Because their purpose is not to give time. We believe high-end watchmaking is art and therefore deconstruct traditional beautiful watchmaking to recon- struct it into mechanical sculptures.
Say Max Busser is going to the beach. What does he wear on his wrist?
A 10-year-old Rolex Sea-Dweller or a Swatch.