Founded by Maximilian Büsser in 2005, MB&F (Maximilian Busser and Friends) is known for its Horological Machines which have futuristic designs and are inspired by science fiction. Categorising MB&F is tad difficult. MB&F’s has a new member in its robot-cum-table clock family, Balthazar. Weighing in at over 8 kg and standing 40 cm tall, his impressive body is composed of 618 micro-engineered components. Balthazar will run nonstop for 35 days. And just like his little brother, Melchior, his eyes scan the surroundings continuously in a 20-second retrograde action. In an interview with Hiren Kumar Bose MB&F CEO Maximilian Büsser says Balthazar has a ‘dark side’ too. Read on for the details
MB&F has been creating unique examples of mechanical horology… pieces of three-dimensional kinetic art. What was going on in your mind when you conceived the idea of creating Balthazar?
A creative adult is a child who survived! I have always loved the idea of old-world robots. Not the new, slick, highly-efficient designs – rather the kid’s toy robots we had in the Seventies. Intricate, mechanically-designed and with a real personality.
In what ways is Balthazar different from your earlier offerings like Melchior and Sherman?
Creating Melchior, our first robot-clock, with L’Epéefor our 10th anniversary in 2015, I had a fantastic time. And the first time I saw Melchior for real, I realized the movement was so beautiful from behind also – it was a pity no one would see it. But at the same time, there is no point in seeing the back of a clock if there is no function, so very quickly we worked on the dark/light concept – the two sides in all of us. Balthazar is truly the first of our robots to have a dark side…
On the technical side, we also added to the movement a North/South hemisphere moonphase indicator. And what changed a lot was the positioning of the regulator: indeed the entire regulator has been positioned much higher, further from the rest of the movement. Last but not least, the retrograde “eye” function has been developed to mimic eyes following someone.
MB&F has associated with L’Epée 1839 to create Balthazar as it did earlier to make Melchior. Do tell us about this unique co-branding?
L’Epée 1839 are the oldest clock makers in Switzerland and one of the last very high-end clockmakers in the world. I approached them for the first time in 2013 with a sketch of what would become the Starfleet Machine, and since then we have enjoyed a truly incredible creative relationship. Not only do they never say no to any of our crazy ideas, but they add some of their own, which improve the product even further. We have gotten into an amazing rhythm of presenting with them every year at least two totally new clocks.
How has the market responded to Melchior and Sherman?
Of the 99 Melchior crafted, only 2 or 3 are left up for grabs in the world, and Sherman has put so many smiles on people’s faces that he is more efficient than Prozac!
Just ten years and so many offerings, the Horological Machine Collection, the Legacy Machine Collection, space age Music Machines (1, 2 and 3), unusual clocks in the form of a space station (Starfleet Machine) and a spider (Arachnophobia), 11 remarkable movements and additionally three GPHG awards. What is the secret of your brand being so prolific? Of doing so many things in so short a time.
MB&F is a life decision, not a business decision. Actually it is a pretty poor business decision, but it is a fantastic life decision. We only create what we believe in, without ever thinking if there are any clients crazy enough to follow us (it is sometimes terrifying I must admit) so our creations are completely different from anything this industry has come out with. On top of that, we only work with people who not only have great talent but also great values and personalities – that intensifies and accelerates the process. And finally, we treat people the way we would like to be treated and it works. It works incredibly well, and generates a wave of enthusiasm and support from all those we are lucky to work with.
Do we see MB&F time machines coming to India anytime soon?
I would love to. As you may know, I am half Indian and I would be very proud to see our creations in a showcase in my mother’s country.