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THE WATCHISMO TIMES WATCH BLOG A reliquary of obscure timepieces from bygone eras as well as the cutting-edge watch designs of today.

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Horological Machine No.2.2 "The Black Box" A Collaboration Developed with Alain Silberstein

Horological Machine No.2.2 Simply black: Alain Silberstein’s surprise take on Horological Machine No 2

What happens when that master of glorious color, French high-end watch designer Alain Silberstein, is let loose with MB&F’s Horological Machine No2? The surprising answer is a new, all-black case that epitomizes Bauhaus purity and restraint. The new model, called Horological Machine No2.2, is known affectionately in-house as “the black box”. It will be issued in a limited edition of eight watches.

Horological Machine No.2.2 MB&F is a company founded 4 years ago by the former head of Harry Winston Timepieces, Maximilian Büsser, and is dedicated to designing and crafting small series of radical concept watches in collaboration with talented professionals. The new case by Alain Silberstein houses the same groundbreaking “engine” as Horological Machine No2, introduced in 2008 and featuring the world’s first mechanical movement combining an instantaneous jumping hour, concentric retrograde minutes, retrograde date, bi-hemisphere moon phase and automatic winding.

Horological Machine No.2.2

What a difference a “.2” makes!

Whilst the twin porthole dials are still the focal point – with the jumping hours in an aperture for the first time – the watch’s personality has changed completely. Gone is the science-fiction look of the original. Silberstein says that he wanted Horological Machine No2.2 to combine the pure geometry of the Bauhaus with the user-friendliness of the miniature box cameras of the 1940s.


The rectangular case is carved out of a solid block of titanium, resting on the original substructure. This multi-layered construction gives the watch its powerful, richly engineered profile. The simplicity of the case itself is deceptive: Alain Silberstein works with the light, like a diamond-cutter, to achieve a play of mat and polished surfaces when the watch is worn.


The titanium case is treated with an exclusive PVD coating incorporating silicium, resulting in a soft touch and particularly intense black color. The vibrant red numerals, markers and hands are coated in Superluminova for easy night reading. All the characters on the twin displays were designed by Alain Silberstein. Even the moon’s expressive face was inspired by a treasured cartoon from the Art Nouveau period.


Horological Machine No.2.2
Inspirations great and small

The brief to Alain Silberstein was typical of MB&F’s creative approach. Explaining the project, Maximilian Büsser says, “I simply gave Alain the watch and said: “Enjoy yourself! And he caught me completely off balance. He produced a black box, where I was expecting something very colorful!” This makes Alain Silberstein chuckle. “The truth is, when I saw the original case of Horological Machine No2 the miniature box cameras of the 1940s flashed into my mind. The portholes reminded me of the lens. I decided to construct a new personality for the watch, combining the user-friendliness of those cameras and the discipline of the Bauhaus movement.”



The pleasure of working together


Inscribed in the side of the case are the words: “Le vrai bonheur est d’avoir sa passion pour métier” (“True happiness is having one’s passion for a profession”). That is Alain Silberstein’s motto, and he found his soul mates in MB&F. He says that the whole point was the pleasure of working together, and Maximilian Büsser agrees. “Alain is a true artist, but he never takes himself too seriously. He has kept that childlike spirit of adventure, and that is something that we at MB&F hold dear”.


Horological Machine No.2.2
Alain Silberstein (pictured right) is French and his workshop is in Besancon. He trained as an interior architect and designer, but quickly turned his talents to high-end watch design. His masterly handling of geometry and colour translates into collections that sparkle with inventiveness and wit. Maximilian Büsser first spotted his work 20 years ago, when overtaking a BMW Z1, whose doors were down revealing the driver’s giant black chronograph. The look and size of that chronograph – years ahead of its time – decided MB&F’s future founder to keep a close eye on its creator, and he has done so ever since. According to Maximilian Büsser: “Every year, Alain Silberstein’s collections surprise me. He is a true artist, but he never takes himself too seriously. He has kept that childlike spirit, and that is something that we at MB&F hold dear”. A. Silberstein Website

A little over four years ago,
Maximilian Büsser (pictured left) left what was considered a dream job, as head of Harry Winston Timepieces, in order to set up MB&F, a company dedicated solely to designing and crafting small series of radical concept watches in collaboration with talented professionals. Or, as he says: “To letting my guts speak instead of my head” – a spirit shared by all the independent craftsmen, engineers and watchmakers who collaborate on his projects. Maximilian is half Swiss and half Indian and believes that this explains his constant drive to combine flawless traditional quality with creative imagination run wild. Horological Machines Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are the fine results to date. MB&F Website

Related MB&F, Max Busser, and Horological Machine Posts-->LINK


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Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2

Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2An exciting evening out on the town for the reclusive Watchismo Times! I had the honor of meeting Maximilian Büsser and his new child, the Horological Machine No.2! And for some strange reason, Max trusted me enough to hold his bolted baby even though I almost dropped it into the Bolognese sauce...

Personally, I think he just pulled it out of an antique alien submarine control panel and put a strap on it.

Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2After decades learning and conforming to the rules of corporate watchmaking, Maximilian Büsser broke the chains and started a rebellion - a rebellion called MB&F.

MB&F is an artistic and micro-engineering concept laboratory in which changing collectives of independent horological professionals are assembled each year to design and craft radical Horological Machines.

The ramifications of these audacious projects are profound. By respecting tradition without being shackled by it, MB&F acts as a catalyst in fusing traditional high-quality watchmaking with cutting-edge technology and avant-garde three-dimensional kinetic sculpture.

MB&F's first timepiece, Horological Machine No.1, wrote the first chapter in the story of the revolution, Horological Machine No.2 continues the adventure.

Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2Each of HM2's twin portholes allows the viewer a different perspective of time. On the right, the Jumping Hours and Concentric Retrograde Minutes reveals time up close and 'now', while the Retrograde Date and Bi-Hemisphere Moon Phase on the left dial allows the viewer to take a step back from immediacy and relax.

Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2Horological Machine No.2 (HM2) is a holistically conceived and engineered three-dimensional timekeeping machine for the wrist. The functions and indications were specifically conceived to tailor to the strengths of HM2's chief watchmaker, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. The bespoke architecture of the highly technical movement was developed to both fit and complement the radical form of the modular case. HM2 is the world's first mechanical movement offering: Instantaneous Jump Hour, Concentric Retrograde Minutes, Retrograde Date, Bi-Hemisphere Moon Phase and Automatic Winding.

With over 450 components making up its case and movement HM2 is an incredible sophisticated machine; however, its complexity has been engineered for simple and trouble free functionality.

The movement features an extremely energy efficient Jump Hour/Retrograde mechanism developed by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. Wiederrecht's exclusive (and patented) asymmetrical-tooth gear wheels ensure high precision and play-free functionality.

The realisation of HM2’s complex case shape - with its architectural volume, bold flying buttresses, bolted portholes and sliding crown guard - was only made possible by using an innovative modular approach: a method inspired by the Meccano sets (similar to Erector sets) of Maximilian Büsser's childhood.

Horological Machine No.2 is full of dynamic tension between apparently incongruous elements. Tension between cutting-edge technology and sculptural art, matte textures and mirror-polishes, high-tech alloys and precious metals and tension between traditional watchmaking and 21st century micro-engineering. This vibrant tension is amplified by the interplay of light and colour off the varied finishes, textures and shapes, and gives the machine its pulsing vitality.

Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2
Inspiration and Realization: MB&F is first and foremost about people and the key person behind Horological Machine No.2 is Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. It was 9 years ago, in Maximilian Büsser's former position as Managing Director of Harry Winston Timepieces, that Büsser first began working with Wiederrecht and found him to be imaginative, inventive and sharing in the same human values. Wiederrecht and his company Agenhor are world leaders in Retrograde and Jumping Hour mechanisms and Büsser conceived HM2's functions specifically to play to these strengths.

The case, with its flying buttresses, bolted portholes and sliding crown guard, was so complex - over 100 components go into its construction alone - that it could only be developed with an innovative modular method inspired by the Meccano sets of Maximilian Büsser's childhood. And in line with best engineering principles, this modularity also simplifies future refurbishment of the case should it ever be necessary.

Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2Architecture: The principal feature of Horological Machine No.2 is the holistic symbiosis between the three dimensional architecture of both the case and the movement. The sheer complexity of the case design necessitated a modular approach to construction. More than 100 components go into the assembly of the case alone - that is more parts than make up many complete movements! While extremely complex to fabricate, this bolted-not-welded engineering allows maximum flexibility in design and enables a rich variety of materials and finishes to be used.

Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2Technical Innovations: The principle technical challenge in developing the movement was ensuring that the jumping hour functioned both instantaneously and simultaneously when the retrograde minute flies back from 60 to 0. And not only instantaneously, but also without using excessive energy. The usual method of activating Jumping Hour indications is to store energy in the minutes before the change to power the jump; however, while this energy is being accumulated it takes power from the balance causing it to loose amplitude - an effect detrimental to time-keeping precision. Wiederrecht's solution was as brilliant as it was simple: he designed a ingenious mechanism so that when the minutes fly back, a snail on the minute mechanism hits the hour star causing the hour to jump. The hour jumps instantaneously with the minutes because it is triggered by the minutes and, as the jump is powered by the energy of the minutes flying back, it has virtually no effect on the amplitude of the balance.

Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2The complication has another very special feature. Specific gears in HM2's movement are manufactured to extremely high precision using Mimotec's UV-LIGA technology. These gears mesh together with a virtually a no-tolerance/no-play engagement. Normally, gears interacting this tightly would bind; however, Wiederrecht's patented asymmetrical-split-tooth gear design ensures this does not occur. The high precision of this gearing enables very accurate time-setting and offers high reliability.

To maximise the efficiency of MB&F's already iconic double Hakken automatic rotor, one of the 22kt gold blades was machined down to a razor sharp edge of just 0.2mm - a dimension which pushed the very limits of micro-machining.

The innovative sliding crown guard clearly indicates its position (in or out) and facilitates access to time-setting and quick date correcting.

And now for some candid shots of the new brood. (photographed by and courtesy of Felipe Jordão, the independent horology moderator at Timezone.com - all his photos can be seen here-->Link

Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2The MB&F Clan (HM1 & HM2)

Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2
Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2
Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2
Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2What watch do I wear to such an event?
Well, my cuffbusting vintage Desotos

Haute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2Max, Watchismo, and the HM2

Priced at $59,000 (US) and in larger editions than the $150,000 HM1.

MB&F website-->LINK

All MB&F related posts-->LINK

Want more? Jack Forster's HM2 article for Horomundi-->LINK



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Horological Peephole! First Peek of the HM2 by Maximilian Busser & Friends

Horological Peephole!  First Peek of the HM2 by Maximilian Busser & FriendsSure, I feel guilty looking at the HM2 in a very private moment. But I just can't help myself, it's a damn nice looking watch!

Within a week of being publicly exposed in full-frontal glory, the MB&F "Horological Machine N°2" can only be seen with these advance elemental photographs. Showing the crown (with the iconic HM2 "battle axe" rotor design on it), a portion of one display and at least two indications, and what appears to be some sort of bad-ass futuristic motorcycle engine! We shall see...stay tuned.

The case alone is made up of 102 different coponents, setting itself as one of the most, if not THE most complex watch cases ever made. Max mentioned to me that the case construction is inspired by a game he used to play as a kid… called Meccano, where parts are bolted together (similar to Erector sets).


Horological Peephole!  First Peek of the HM2 by Maximilian Busser & FriendsPerhaps a grip for your thumb to adjust the crown?

Horological Peephole!  First Peek of the HM2 by Maximilian Busser & FriendsCrown with HM1 "Battle Axe" Rotor Design

Horological Peephole!  First Peek of the HM2 by Maximilian Busser & FriendsThe entire sneak preview - Next week!

All Related MB&F Post Links;
MB&F HM2 Friends Photo
MB&F HM2 Movement
Max Busser Interview
Early Designs & Sketches of the HM1
Horological Machine No 1



Enter The Watchismo Times 1st anniversary vintage chronograph giveway!-->LINK


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10....9....8....7....6....5....4....3.....HM2!

10....9....8....7....6....5....4....3.....HM2!It's just about blast-off time for the next Horological Machine of Maximilian Büsser & Friends. Max has just sent me the official team portrait (a new crew is assembled for each machine) and as many of you know, this is the second landing for the the MB&F brand and we're all less than a two weeks away from seeing their craft!

Yeah, way too many space travel references, I know. But you gotta admit, the HM2 does look other-worldly, based solely on the advance viewing of the movement a while back. Still, nobody really understands where this might be going. (see the HM2 movement below) One thing is certain, the HM2 is likely to wear you, not the other way around.

And nobody really knew who he was working with on this latest project...until now. Max described it as "A truly incredible adventure with a wonderful team. Few of these great artisans-creators have had any media limelight at all, even Jean-Marc Wiederrecht who is probably the most prolific movement creator of the last fifteen years, but who is so shy of publicity that the biggest problem was to convince him to appear openly on this project, has rarely been seen at all!"

10....9....8....7....6....5....4....3.....HM2!Watchmaker Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, Designer Eric Giroud, and Captain Max

10....9....8....7....6....5....4....3.....HM2!HM2 Movement

Read more about the reclusive watchmaker Jean-Marc Wiederrecht here-->Link
Maximilian Busser & Friends website-->Link

Related Posts;
HM2 Movement
All other MB&F posts



Enter The Watchismo Times 1st anniversary vintage chronograph giveway!-->LINK


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Horological Machine No.2.2 "The Black Box" A Collaboration Developed with Alain SilbersteinHaute Steampunk! Attack of the Horological Machine No.2Horological Peephole!  First Peek of the HM2 by Maximilian Busser & Friends10....9....8....7....6....5....4....3.....HM2!

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