"A vision. That is normally the beginning of a time sculpture manufactured by Thomas Prescher. Guided by the idea to improve the perfect visibility of the central elements of his multi Axis Tourbillon Thomas Prescher composed a new breathtaking piece of art.
Only time, Tourbillon, calendar and oscillating weight are visible. The movement is completely hidden.
Place to hide the movement was found left and right in the case, hidden by the bezel. Because the space is very limited the parts of the movement had to be located on both sides.
Later, resting in a hammock the idea was born to create an automatic movement with horizontal swinging oscillating weight. To crown this exceptional piece of art, it was a logical decision to choose something special for the heart of this watch. The escapement with its beating balance has to be a flying Double Axis Tourbillon with constant force.
The idea to add a calendar to this creation came while observing some people entering a giant swing. They could move on the surface of the swing. Why not create an oscillating weight with integrated calendar indications and let the gravity take the calendar on the oscillating weight remains always horizontal.
This mysterious watch with its transparency led automatically to the wish to wear it from sides, front and back. With the calendar located on the flat side of the oscillating weight this indication is always facing upward. It can be read regardless of which side of the watch is up.
Respecting the aspects of harmony was an important point. Two crowns were used to keep the beauty of symmetry with. One crown is used for winding and the other for setting time and calendar. Both crowns build the main symmetry axis. Now it was necessary to build the optical balance between the oscillating weight on one side and the indication of time on the other side. For that reason a three dimensional moon was placed between the two barrels, indicating the hours and minutes.
Finally, placed on a turning axis, held by a carrying arm the carriage is rotating around itself. These two synchronized motions create a gyro scoping image immediately taking full attention.
Horological Machine No.2.2 "The Black Box" A Collaboration Developed with Alain Silberstein
Published: October 27,
2009 | 06:10
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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
New from MB&F - A Teaser for the New Horological Machine Coming in a Few Weeks
Published: October 15,
2009 | 04:47
Any Guesses? My first instinct was that it could be a Joan Mirólogical Machine or even better, an Alexander Calder inspired timepiece...I mean how cool would Calder's mobiles be in the miniature world of a watch? Ha... I actually know but I'm not telling until it is released on October 29th, stay tuned and see future teases here or at the Maximilian Büsser & Friends website.
Below is the first visual teaser/hint MB&F is providing...
In addition, Greubel Forsey just announced their new headquarters, also in La Chaux du Fonds. Symbolizing their impact on the horologogical landscape, their new building designed by Pierre Studer appears to have risen from the Earth (or fallen from my first impression). "Its original shape reflects a geological fold as seen in the topography of the Jura mountains, further enhanced by a ‘green’ or garden roof."
To me, I see a powerful new company so heavy in talent, the ground is unable to support them...
More about the MIH Gaïa Prize ; The Gaïa Prize was created in 1993 by the Musée international d’horlogerie with an aim to honour prominent figures who have contributed and who contribute to the reputation of watchmaking – through its history, its technology and its industry. The only one of its kind, this Prize has the particularity of honouring the best of the best.
Watch Your Black - Sarpaneva Watches Introduces Moonphase iPhone Application
Published: September 18,
2009 | 15:21
Sarpaneva Black Moon iPhone Application
Extending the award-winning communication design concept, Sarpaneva Watches announces the Sarpaneva Black Moon application for the Apple iPhone and iPod touch mobile devices, available now for free download at iTunes App Store.
Sarpaneva Korona K3 Black Moon is the first mechanical wristwatch to indicate the invisible and ever mysterious new moon. A moon phase during which Lilith, the seductive temptress of an ancient legend, preys on unwitting men. Now, the same function has been replicated on a mobile device to keep the holder vigilant of this hidden phenomenon.
Stepan Sarpaneva: "I am pleased how the Black Moon concept has attracted people the world over." Now Sarpaneva enthusiasts and watch owners can enjoy it on their mobile devices as well. Rather than content ourselves with just replicating the watch design, we decided to implement the wristwatch's unique moon phase functionality in a mobile application. We can now view the moon in much greater size and detail.
It is a friendly reminder of when Lilith is on the loose – and a handy tool to adjust your watch with.
Implemented by the Helsinki-based software development studio MK&C, the application also includes an option to subscribe the Sarpaneva Black Moon calendar for iCal, which informs about the days of the new moon.
All Sarpaneva watches are designed and handcrafted by Stepan Sarpaneva himself. Born in 1970 to a Finnish family with a long heritage of craftsmanship, Stepan Sarpaneva's ambition is to create unique design, fusing timeless elegance with Scandinavian simplicity. Based in Helsinki, Finland, Sarpaneva Watches manufactures mechanical timepieces of outstanding quality, created in the spirit of the traditional watchmaker's art.
Sarpaneva Watches receives prestigious Red Dot Award for the Korona K3 Black Moon
Published: August 24,
2009 | 05:03
Sarpaneva Watches receives prestigious Red Dot Design Award!
Sarpaneva Watches received the 2009 “red dot” award for the communication design created around the limited edition Sarpaneva Korona K3 Black Moon wristwatch. With more than 6000 submissions from 42 countries, the entries were evaluated by a panel of international experts on criteria of originality, effectiveness, emotional quality and design quality.
Sarpaneva Korona K3 Black Moon is the first mechanical wristwatch to indicate the invisible and ever mysterious new moon, and the award-winning concept was created to communicate this unique function. Inspired by the endless melancholy of the dark Finnish winter, the Black Moon concept is in complete contrast to the glamorous communication of other luxury brands.
Limited to 20 pieces, each watch is accompanied by a hand-bound book “Black is the Moon” which recounts a thousand year old legend of Lilith: the seductive temptress, who preys on unwitting men during the new moon. Extending throughout all communication, the concept is captured in the catchphrase “Watch your black”. First unveiled in January 2009, the Black Moon continues to attract watch enthusiasts and exhibitors worldwide.
Presented by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen in Essen, Germany, the red dot design is one of the largest and most distinguished design competitions in the world. It is divided into the red dot award: product design”, the “red dot award: communication design”, and the “red dot award: design concept”. The award-winning work will be presented on 10 December 2009 in the winners’ exhibition at the Essen red dot design museum and online at www.red-dot.de.
All Sarpaneva watches are designed and handcrafted by Stepan Sarpaneva himself. Born in 1970 to a Finnish family with a long heritage of craftsmanship, Stepan Sarpaneva's ambition is to create unique design, fusing timeless elegance with Scandinavian simplicity. Based in Helsinki, Finland, Sarpaneva Watches manufactures mechanical timepieces of outstanding quality, created in the spirit of the traditional watchmaker's art.
Urwerk King Cobra CC1 Reintrepretation of 1958 Patek Philippe Cobra Prototype - Cylindrical Retrograde Linear Jumping Hour Display
Published: July 08,
2009 | 16:03
I started this blog nearly three years ago and the watch that started it all was the very obscure 1958 Patek Philippe Cobra -- A timepiece so advanced for its time, only one prototype was ever produced.
It has taken over half a century for someone to take it seriously and attempt a reinterpretation -- Urwerk, the coolest independent brand in the world has just introduced the "King Cobra UR CC1", an unexpected follow-up to their revolutionary Tarantula and Hammerhead series and a serious nod to the masterpiece originally created by Louis Cottier.
Geneva – September 2009
Time is usually - nearly always - displayed by a circular indication: one dial and two (or three) with the time displayed around a perpetual circle. However, this 360° representation of time goes against everything we learnt as we grew up drawing a straight line on a blank page and marking it Past, Present and Future. Why do we think of time as travelling in a straight line yet display it rotating around a circle? The answer is straightforward: mechanisms that continually rotate are much simpler to produce than those that trace a straight line then return to zero. In fact, the latter is so difficult that, until now, nobody has ever managed to develop a production wristwatch with true retrograde linear displays.
Linear. On the UR-CC1, there are two horizontal indications displayed by two retrograde cylinders: one for the (jumping) hours, the other for the minutes. And don't be lulled by the apparent simplicity of the displays; the UR-CC1 is the result of more than three years of research, development, production and testing to ensure that the rotation and instant fly-back of the large hour and minute cylinders was achieved without compromising accurate timekeeping.
Triple-cam. A vertical triple-cam operating a rack (visible through a window in the side of the case) rotates the minute cylinder. From zero to 60 minutes, the minute cylinder rotates through 300°. On arriving at the 60-minute mark the cylinder instantly (1/10th of a second) reverses back to its original position thanks to an extra-flat linear spring. The retrograde movement of the minute cylinder triggers the hour cylinder to advance (jump) one complete hour.
The triple-cam is crafted from bronze beryllium, a metal selected for its inherently self-lubricating properties and low co-efficient of friction, and takes the form of three small inclines. The precise shape of the curve of the incline is relayed to the pivoting rack, while the teeth on the end of the rack mesh with and rotate the minute cylinder. The triple-cam makes a complete rotation in three hours so that each of the three inclines takes 60 minutes, and 180 points of reference have been calculated on each of the three cams to ensure the precise and isochronic rotation of the minute cylinder.
Rack: The toothed segment at the end of the rack transmits and transforms the rotation triple-cam into the rotation of the minute cylinder. The toothed rack presents two properties that at first appear contradictory: absolute rigidity, so as to accurately transmit the motion of the cam to the minute cylinder; and extremely low mass to consume as little energy as possible and minimise the effects of gravity and accelerations/shocks. This vital component has been fabricated in nickel by Mimotec using their photolithography process. The honeycomb pattern of the nickel structure resolves the two apparently contradictory requirements of maximum strength and minimum weight.
Seconds disk: The dial of the UR-CC1 is animated by a rotating disk displaying the seconds both digitally and linearly – a world first! This incredible exploit was achieved thanks to Mimotec’s photolithography production technique, which enabled the component to be fabricated from ultra-light nickel; the procedure is even more precise than electro-erosion. To reduce mass to an absolute minimum, the minuscule numerals were even skeletonised. A small tab at 10 seconds bearing the URWERK logo precisely counterbalances the disk's single-digit numbers. This marvel of micro-precision weighs only 0.09 grams.
Rotor Fly Brake: UR-CC1 features URWERK’s pneumatic shock-absorbing Rotor Fly Brake automatic winding system, which minimizes rotor and mechanism wear and damage from shock and harsh movements. The operation of the Rotor Fly Brake is visible through a window on the side of the case. Technical Specifications:
Case: available in either grey gold with titanium case back (limited edition of 25 pieces) or black gold with titanium case back (limited edition of 25 pieces); brushed-satin finish
Indications: linear display for hours and minutes with jumping hours and retrograde minutes ; second display both digital and linear
Dimensions: 45.7mm x 43.5mm x 15mm
Dial and Bridges: ARCAP P40. SuperLumiNova treatment on hours, minutes displays
Genesis of a creation
1958. Messrs Gilbert Albert and Louis Cottier combine their talents to create a watch destined to revolutionize the horological world. Their idea is completely outrageous: it is the world’s first watch to feature a linear display. It is an extraordinary, avant-garde piece that fulfils none of the aesthetic criteria of the time. As for its linear indication, the idea may seem simple but the execution is a technical headache of monumental proportions. However Messrs Albert and Cottier believe in it and they stick with it, creating a prototype for Patek Philippe.
1959. A patent is deposited by Louis Cottier, detailing the technical scale of the achievement. Then – nothing. The prototype is put on to one side. Does the watch even work? Today nobody knows for sure. It took its place in the corner of the Patek Philippe museum and proceeded to arouse curiosity from time to time.
1998. With pencil and paper Martin Frei, co-founder of the URWERK brand and an aesthete at heart, sketches the first outline of his future creation: a watch in which the hours and minutes are indicated by two straight, parallel lines. But he hesitates. With Felix Baumgartner, master watch-maker and co-founder of URWERK, another idea springs to mind – the concept of the hour satellite, presented for the first time at Basel. The earlier project is postponed, sine die.
2006. URWERK is henceforth known and recognized for its mechanical hour satellite watches in which orbiting hour satellites indicate the minutes. But the idea of developing a different way of telling the time continues to fascinate Felix Baumgartner. In the end it is the Alfred Hitchcock film “The Birds” that gives him the decisive nudge in the right direction. In one of the most famous scenes from the film, the heroine seeks refuge in an old Dodge. The image lasts only a few seconds but it is crucial – a close-up of the dashboard and its linear speedometer. Yes. That’s it! A continuous line with which to mark time. Felix and Martin work non-stop on this new project. Their research leads them to the discovery of Gilbert Albert and Louis Cottier’s watch. It will be their “muse”.
2009. Three years of research. One year of testing. URWERK’s “King Cobra” is unveiled. ‘CC’ for Cottier Cobra, a homage to the genius of Louis Cottier, inventor and creator. Once more, URWERK redefines our vision of fine watchmaking and pushes back the frontiers of the possible.
The original 1958 Cobra
Original Prototype Movement
Watchmaker Felix Baumgartner
I am not big on nostalgia, but I have always loved the linear speedometers found on old cars. My older brother had a 1960’s Volvo and it was that which gave us the first idea for a horological linear indication. I recently watched the film ‘The Birds’ by Alfred Hitchcock, and in it the heroine took refuge in an old Dodge with a linear speedometer- it is one of my favourite scenes. There are very few wristwatches with linear indications. One of them, if not the first, was ‘The Cobra’, which was developed in the late 1950s by Mr. Louis Cottier. It is sensational! Although it was created over half a century ago, it is still very contemporary. Unfortunately, it only exists as a single prototype and was never put into production. Now, 50 years after he filed his patent (1959), URWERK pays homage to the work of Louis Cottier by creating its own interpretation of the Cobra. -Felix Baumgartner
Designer Martin Frei
I am interested in the perception of time. Physicists tell us that time can be warped or stretched, and our daily experiences are with the circular cycles of the days, seasons and years. But I am also intrigued that time can be ordered, even straitjacketed, to flow in a linear direction - a straight line from the past, through the present, to the future. And, because this can represent an individual’s lifeline, I feel that this linear format can be a very human way to look at time. That plus the fact that I think it looks really cool! -Martin Frei
By now, many are aware of BNB Concept and their work – after all, it was only a matter of time before people started to wonder where the likes of Romain Jerome, De Witt, Hublot, Concord, Jacob & Co. and Bell & Ross acquired their blisteringly innovative tourbillons all of a sudden. Jorg Hysek’s HD3 visionaries were the only ones to freely admit the origins of their gothic-tech complications from the start, but once people started spotting BNB’s trademark spiral-spoked escape wheel all over the place, the cat was out of the bag. Once was a time when people were reluctant to reveal the minds behind their rent-a-calibres – now everyone's falling over themselves to get a piece of the BNB action and the instant provenance it brings. As BNB attests:
“BNB wishes not to become a new watch brand, but rather a label of quality. Should BNB create its own brand, it would inevitably become a competitor to its customers.”
Unlike Renaud & Papi's selective austerity or Christophe Claret's mercenary dictatorship, BNB is a genuinely cool, relaxed community of eager young things with genuinely new ideas about how watches should work – with no less than five facilities in Duillier, Crans-près-Céligny, La Vallée de Joux, La Chaux-de-Fonds and Nyon at their disposal, all crammed full of the latest tools, CNC machines, electroplating and engraving machines, and rank-upon-rank of sterile assembly lines. What’s doubly impressive about BNB is that they make complete WATCHES for their 25-or-so clients – not just the multi-plane/dual-axis tourbillon movements they’re famous for. For a five-year-old outfit, that’s serious progress.
Members of the Confrérie Horlogere 2008-2009 and Mathias Buttet (CEO and founder BNB Concept ; founder Confrérie Horlogère).
From the left: David Rodriguez, Ranieri Illicher, Clara Bise, Mathias Buttet, Ken Koshiyama, Sabitry Montandon, Gabriel Salgado-de Arce, Brigitte Carneiro.
It was therefore inevitable, despite the abovementioned pledge, that as a fully verticalized entity, BNB would eventually indulge in its own vanity projects – albeit under an alternative banner, "Confrérie Horlogère". (Perhaps reminiscent of Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey’s Complitime factory, which bankrolled proceedings before they unleashed their eponymous double tourbillon).
Confrérie Horlogère is a bit Opus, a bit Maitres du Temps, a bit Time Aeon – only the emphasis is on nurturing youngsters with ideas beyond their usual means. And in this first year, no less than seven talents and four almost-complete watches have been put on pedestals by BNB’s effusive CEO Matthias Buttet (one of the "B"s in BNB - the others being Barbasini and Navas, all of them formerly of Franck Muller’s Watchland - Buttet as a micro-technical engineer, Navas and Barbasini as prototypists).
In Buttet’s words:
“The Confrérie Horlogère, far from being a product, is an ambitious project to promote such values as work, creativeness, craftsmanship, community spirit, respect and above all freedom of women and men moved by the will to express themselves through excellence, as well as unexpected design.”
And I’m pleased to report that every one of Buttet’s fresh-faced prodigies have come up with equally amazing movements and watches... It really is quite incredible to see such a tranche of brilliance emerge all at once.
Every year, Confrérie Horlogère will select a maximum of 7 “graduates” to develop their own watch, produced on a very small-scale – no more than 10 pieces each. And unlike many flash-in-the-pan pantomime projects, which run the danger of costing more to fix and service over a lifetime than the watch itself (if indeed you find a capable-enough and willing watchmaker in the first place, once the flash-in-the-pan brand has gone belly-up) the CH timepieces will benefit from a lifetime’s guarantee. Buttet trusts his kids that much.
This year’s 7 “companions” are:
1. David Rodriguez, a Peruvian watchmaker, whose “la Résilience” tourbillon demonstrates sublimely anarchic finishing with Punk overtones that actually reveal through its scars and stitching the difficulties Rodriguez faced as an abused orphan on crutches who, finally, found in Switzerland and watchmaking a refuge. Metaphorically biographical watchmaking – surely a world first?
2. Brigitte Carneiro, watchmaker, with “la Face Cachée”
la Face Cachée
3. Ken Koshiyama, watchmaker, with “Racines japonaises”
4. Ranieri Illicher, watchmaker, whose la Passion à l’italienne micro-brand debuts with the “Bel Canto” minute repeater tourbillon – a chiming watch literally suspended in a bell, which also serves as the watch case – why didn’t anyone think of this before?!
Bel Canto Minute Repeater (thanks to DonCorson Watchprosite.com)
5. Sabitry Montandon, watchmaker
6. Clara Bise, watchmaker
7. Gabriel Salgado de Arce, engraver and chaser of watch components, whose coral reef ImmenSEAty just defies all watch-finishing convention. Words can’t do this justice.
8. An eighth Companion has already been selected for the year 2009- 2010. His name is Jérôme Siegrist, a watchmaker who is already involved in an ambitious project that focuses on recreating and scaling down to wristwatch dimensions an extremely complex mechanism built, anachronistically, two centuries B.C. and salvaged from a shipwreck in 1901. Antikythera will be presented by the end of 2009, but you can get an inkling of what to expect-->here.
The ANTIKYTHERA mechanism wristwatch concept
Beside these individual “Complications” watches, the Companions will all be collaborating on joint Confrerie Horlogère projects, either as small-series “Classiques” or one-off “Masters” pieces. So far, there’s Masters Clef du Temps – an ornately skeletonised vertical tourbillon movement (presumably derived from the one developed for Concord, but as usual completely original and unlike anything seen before) – and Classiques Chronographe Tourbillon Pulsion 1 (I’ve run out of superlatives….)
The Confrérie Horlogère’s Only Watch 09 (by BNB Concept) is “La Clef du Temps” (the Key to Time) – a watch created by Buttet in collaboration with the brand’s R&D team. It is the first timepiece created in the “Les Masters” collection. It is a working prototype of a sophisticated timepiece called “La Clef du Temps”, which will be produced in small series after the Only Watch 09 auction. It is an innovative tourbillon watch featuring a hand-wound mechanical movement with hour and minute indications, a 3-day power reserve indication (PRI) in a 120° sectoral indicator at 8 o’clock and retrograde running seconds at 4 o’clock. The retrograde seconds of 0, 30, 60 depict the rhythm of time as it passes, and the power reserve reminds you when to rewind the piece as it makes its 0, ½, and 3-day passage. Like a body, if you don’t eat properly your body doesn’t function properly, and so with the watch if you forget to rewind it.
“The funds from Only Watch are there to indirectly help the children suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,” says Buttet. “So I thought: what is it that everyone hopes for? Everyone hopes that these children will live longer than expected. I wanted this watch to express this dilemma.”
Buttet wanted the piece to convey two very important and thought-provoking concepts associated with being a parent: Firstly, the idea that however rich you are, true luxury lies in the freedom to manage one’s time as one wishes; secondly, the watch has a sophisticated mechanism that allows the wearer to “adjust the speed” of his personal time by adjusting a simple three-position lever that alters the running speed of the hours and the minutes.
Hence Position 1 the pace of time slows by half so that the true value of one hour is displayed as a half-hour on the dial. Position 2 the pace of time stays at true/standard time. Position 3 the pace of time runs at double speed so a true/standard half-hour becomes a full hour on the dial of the watch.
As Buttet says, “This way, pleasant moments can be made to last twice as long while unpleasant ones can be shortened by half while the ability to ‘return’ to true time is always there.” The watch’s extremely sophisticated mechanism allows the watch’s time indications to remain in positions 1 or 3 as long as its wearer wishes, since a simple turn of the lever to position 2 (the watch’s memory) resets the hour and the minute hand to the real time of day.
As Buttet sees it, it’s his way of extracting some form of balance from a seemingly unjust world that makes us feel that when life is good, time flies, but it slows to a crawl during the rough patches. As with a child with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the pleasure of the good times passes all too fast and the painful moments all too slow.
The movement is shaped like a stylized human brain because, according to Mathias Buttet, “Time is a sort of “state of mind” which is the result of the will of any single person. Not to have time to do something is, at the end, a personal decision and it is not at all something imposed by someone else. Every person decides if he or she wants to have the time to do or not to do something.” Moreover he adds “If you look at the figures on the dial you will see that they are mirror images of themselves. Some numbers are reflected face-to-face, showing the moments that are the result of the one’s will; others are reflected back-to-back: in this case, it is fate that controls your life.”
The futuristic case is shaped like a spaceship – ever searching for a better life, and the strap is composed of four rubber-clad steel strands. Lifetime warranty and the totally Swiss-made provenance of its every part and component are other characteristics of the “La Clef du Temps”.
Barbed Wire & Butterflies - MB&F HM2 Piece Unique by Artist Sage Vaughn for Only Watch 2009
Published: June 08,
2009 | 12:23
There is a butterfly trapped in the movement of the latest watch to emerge from MB&F (Maximilian Büsser & Friends). And it has no hope of escaping, because the complicated movement is wrapped in barbed wire. This emotionally charged piece, a one-of-a-kind interpretation of MB&F’s Horological Machine No.2, is signed by the American artist Sage Vaughn.
Video from the New York WENY presentation (July 16th, 2009)
It will be auctioned at Only Watch, the charity auction to benefit research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy to be held in Monaco on 24 September 2009 under the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II.
The auction is held every two years and brings together the cream of Switzerland’s haute horlogerie watchmakers. Each contributes a unique watch, or the number one from a limited series, to be auctioned without a reserve price. All the proceeds from Only Watch go to enabling the Monegasque Association against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (AMM) to support international research projects into that disease – a field in which the Association has been actively involved since 2005.
"State Penn" by Sage Vaughn
The inspiration for the watch
Büsser and his team were, as he says, “shocked into” creating a piece of horology for the Only Watch event, and were determined that their timepiece should convey that emotion. But horology has its limits. How could it be used to express the beauty and vulnerability of childhood, and the valiant struggle of a child who may well be in a wheelchair before he is twelve?
There are no coincidences in life, and at the time, a new gallery in Geneva was given over entirely to the work of Sage Vaughn, an American painter and former graffiti artist whose solo show in New York last summer had been one of the art world’s most talked-about events. This young artist has fought and conquered his own demon – a seven-year heroin addiction – and the pain of that struggle is felt in the emotional power of his work. The images of gaily-dressed children or bright birds or butterflies putting on a brave front against bleak urban backgrounds had haunted Max Büsser. He had bought one of the art works, a baseball bat adorned with a collage of butterflies, pinned down by nails. Here was the tension between light-hearted innocence and something darker that he was seeking.
Sage Vaughn in his studio
A trip to the US proved him right. Sage Vaughn understood the mission at once and immediately proposed to donate his time and talent. Max Büsser came back with the initial sketch for the watch, and the result is faithful to it. The entire upper face of the watch – the surface of the rectangular case and the two projecting portholes – is crafted in sapphire crystal, revealing the HM2’s complex engine. The hundreds of minute components display the meticulous hand finish that is MB&F’s hallmark. But they are imprisoned in barbed wire. A blue butterfly struggles to escape from the same fate, but its wings are clipped. In the finished work, the barbed wire is handcrafted in blackened gold and the butterfly in blued gold. But the scene has all the emotional power of the first rough by Sage Vaughn – a pencil sketch of the movement criss-crossed by barbed wire drawn in red pencil.
The watch is a unique interpretation of Horological Machine No2, launched as limited series in 2008. HM2 typifies the radical approach to high-end horology taken by Max Büsser and his Friends. It is a high-tech time machine of the twenty-first century and an incredibly sophisticated micromechanical work of art. It houses the world’s first mechanical movement – “engine” in MB&F language – to offer an instantaneous jumping hour, concentric retrograde minutes, retrograde date hand, a bi-hemisphere moon phase and automatic winding. The case alone contains more than 100 parts – more than many complete movements – and is the most complex case in watchmaking history. Altogether the watch has over 450 components.
"Reseda Butterfly" by Sage Vaughn
About Sage Vaughn
Sage Vaughn was born in Jackson, Oregon in 1976 and grew up in Reseda, California. He now lives and works in Los Angeles.
As a child he developed his talent for art in the company of his father, the artist Richard Smitty Vaughn Junior. His father would take him to the Los Angeles zoo, where they would sit all day, sketching the animals. His hippie parents had little money for toys, but they encouraged him to draw and to develop his own style. Later, he became an avid participant in the graffiti culture.
Today he favours painting, but the city of his graffiti days is ever present in his work. It is shown in its least flattering light, in the grey walls and stylised cityscapes and freeways that form an austere backdrop to his vibrant foreground figures. He has also preserved the same free and easy touch and energy. This is most visible in the paint runs used in certain areas of his work.
“I try to utilise animals in the same way that Aesop did in his fables”
Sage Vaughn’s paintings question the human condition and the difficulty of living in a contemporary environment. The bright birds and insects serve as an affirmation of life, but they also remind us of our strategies for survival in a modern society. Imperceptible at first glance, black tattoos in the birds’ plumage spell out the names of gangs or codes. They evoke the individual’s need for recognition, but also a subculture, linked in the collective conscience to violence and rebellion in the streets.
“It is easier for an observer to project into the countenance of a child”
Sometimes, children replace the birds in the foreground. Not yet formatted by society, they seem to have the energy to survive and reinvent the world. Sporting masks and brightly coloured costumes, they look like superheroes. Yet there is nothing joyous or innocent about them. Each is desperately alone, abandoned in a hostile setting.
The message could thus be seen as a bitter one: the American dream of bucolic happiness is shattered.
Sage Vaughn likes to cloud the issue, however, and scramble what might be seen as clear cut. His paintings do not stop at that admission of failure. To live is, of course, difficult but the simple fact of being alive brings hope. In the wake of Melville, whose novels the painter admires, Vaughn knows that even during war, birds do continue to sing and children to play.
Being Maximilian Büsser And Friends
The founder of MB&F says that he created a business model around his neurosis. He was an only child who grew up longing to surround himself with people that he could admire. His parents – his father Swiss, his mother Indian – were “too much in love” to provide the company that he craved, and, left to himself, he developed a rich imaginary life. This led to constant injunctions, at home and at school, to be more reasonable and responsible, and the little boy grew up imbued with his father’s rigorous principles and sense of duty.
It was only when his father passed away, seven years ago, that he felt free to become unreasonable again. “There are two occasions when you become conscious of mortality”, he says. “When you have a child, and when a parent dies.” That prompted him to leave what he admits was a dream job, as head of Harry Winston Timepieces, and form MB&F (Maximilian Büsser and Friends), a company dedicated solely to designing and crafting small series of radical concept watches in collaboration with talented professionals. Or, as he says: “Letting my guts speak instead of my head”. That spirit is shared by all the independent craftsmen, engineers and watchmakers who collaborate on his projects.
Joining the battle to save children from muscular dystrophy
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a serious genetic disorder that affects one in every 3,500 boys. It is characterised by a progressive weakening of the muscles, resulting in respiratory and cardiac problems that become fatal as the child gets older. In Europe there are around 30,000 sufferers of the disease.
As yet there is no cure for the disease, but considerable progress is being made. One of the most important breakthroughs is the development of Saut d’Exon – a surgical technique that enables the cellular machinery to “forget” to read that part of the gene that carries the abnormality of the illness. This technique was developed by Luis Garcia, Head of Research at CNRS, and his team. Mr Garcia is a key player in the field of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He and his group are among the 20 research teams that have benefited from AMM’s financial support.
The role of childhood in MB&F’s creations
Maximilian Büsser knew that he would participate the moment he spoke to Luc Pettavino, the President of AMM. “At my age,” he says, (he is 42), “if I contract a serious illness I can say that I have already lived a full life, but for a child just starting out, it is a tragedy”.
Whilst he would never claim to understand the suffering of a child with this disease, childhood holds a special importance for him. For all their sophistication, the lovingly crafted time machines that he dreams up and creates with his Friends have their roots in his earliest years.
The case of Horological Machine No2 is the most complex case in the history of watchmaking, but its modular structure is inspired by the meccano model kits that were his toys. The 22-karat gold automatic rotor has the jewel-like hand-finish reserved for the elite of traditional watch movements, but it owes its iconic sickle shape to the double-headed battleaxe wielded by his childhood comic hero, Grendizer. All the great sci-fi TV series – Star Trek, Thunderbird, Dr Who and Star Wars – have played a role in MB&F’s creations. It is the tension between fascination with that imaginary world and a love of high-end horology at its purest that gives the machines their vitality.
Movement: Jean-Marc Wiederrecht/Agenhor designed functionality regulated and powered by a Girard-Perregaux oscillator and gear train. Blued 22K gold Battle Ax automatic winding rotor Balance oscillating at 28,800 bph
Number of components: 349 including 44 jewels
Functions: Left dial: Retrograde Date and Bi-Hemisphere Moon Phase Right Dial: Jumping Hours and Concentric Retrograde Minutes
Sage Vaughn sculpture: Blackened 18K gold barbed wire which imprisons the movement, symbol of the illness capturing the body. Blued 18K butterfly on movement bridge, symbol of innocence and childhood.
Case: Piece unique – 18K white gold/titanium with sapphire “double dome” glass Dimensions (exclusive of crown and lugs): 59mm x 38mm x 13mm Water resistant to 30 meters (3 ATM)
Sapphire crystals: Dial side with anti-reflective treatment on both faces. Display back signed by Sage Vaughn.
Dials: Brushed sapphire for minutes and date, Black disks for hours and moon phase.
Number of parts (Movement & Case): 439 parts
Strap & Buckle: Black hand-stitched alligator with 18K gold and titanium custom designed deployant buckle.
How does Only Watch work? Swiss haute de gamme watch companies each produce a unique watch or the first (No 1) of a limited series to be offered (without a reserve price) at this exceptional auction. Patrizzi & Co Auctioneers will be taking these watches on a promotional preview tour during late summer/early autumn 2009.
The Only Watch auction will then take place on 24 September 2009 in Monaco during the 19th Monaco Yacht Show. Participating watch brands 2009 Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, BNB Concept, Bovet Fleurier, Breguet Montres, Cartier, Corum Montres, De Bethune, Delacour, Franck Muller, Frederique Constant, Glashuette Uhrenbertrieb, Hermes, Hublot, Jaquet Droz, Louis Vuitton, Maximilian Buesser & Friends, Mont Blanc, Omega, Patek Philippe, Piaget, Richard Mille, Swatch, Tag Heuer, Tourneau Timepieces, Ulysse Nardin, Urwerk, Vacheron Constantin, Van Cleef & Arpels, Zenith International. Source: Patrizzi & Co Auctioneers www.patrizziauction.com
The Pita Windmills (Molinos) Prototype from AHCI Watchmaker Aniceto Jiménez Pita of Barcelona
Published: May 14,
2009 | 16:39
I'm honored to be the first watch blog to share the brand new prototype from Pita Barcelona. The Pita Molinos (Windmills) project presents a watch with no hands and no crown. Floating hour and minute gear wheels rotate around the dial to indicate the time. Shown above, the time is 12:15. The finished models should be ready by September-October 2009 and they are already taking reservations at www.pita.es
I'm already a fan of Pita's undeniably original and minimal one-handed and carousel automatic ball-bearing movement watches. See the rest of his collection here.
Pita Molinos (Pita Windmills) - prototype status - by AHCI watchmaker Aniceto Jiménez Pita
No hands timepiece. Floating hour and minute wheels telling directly the time, without hands. Wheels and cannon pinion elegantly maximized with embedded precious stones (laquered finish in shown prototype) to indicate the time, in an unprecedented and ethereal manner.
Symmetric case, no crown. Pita-005 movement featuring patented Pita-TSM System (Time Setting Mechanism), replacing remontoire and winding systems developed by Pita.
Designed and handmade in Barcelona Spain. Short and numbered series.
Fully customizable. Unlimited assortment of dials, hands, straps and buckles to choose from.
Available in 18 ct. yellow / white / rose Gold, or Platinum 950.