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Watchismo Times

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

MB&F : Maximilian Busser & Friends Horological Machine No.1

Even if the new company Max Büsser & Friends were a dangerous cult, I might likely find myself selling flowers and handing out booklets in the airport for them. In fact, I'm not even sure you can call it a company anyway, it's really more of a commune for wayward horological geniuses.

This, the first watch of the new brand, the 'HM1' or more specifically, Horological Machine #1' has popped the cherry of the traditional flat hands-on-dial timepiece by creating a multi-layered three-dimensional time machine. Timing has been deconstructed by separating the hours from minutes into two overlapping dials, much like a splitting egg. But Max's 'Friends' are close to splitting atoms with the level of technical intricacy. The dials feature transverse mounted floating sapphire subdials connected by a raised central flying central tourbillon and four massive mainspring barrels fueling a seven-day power reserve. The two beryllium gear trains run in parallel to reduce torque of each mainspring, improving synchronization between them. The entire watch caliber is built from scratch.

Only thirty HM1 will be built per year, limited to a total of 100 models ever made and prices exceeding $100,000 USD. According to Max himself, upcoming Horological Machines will pass the baton further with each lap. The next Machine is slated for an October release and be sure to check here for any advance looks!

Max Büsser, the man I believe is responsible for leading this new age of independent watchmaking - mostly due to his previous time-bending series of Opus watches for Harry Winston Rare Timepieces. Like Malcolm Mclaren, Max assembled the Sex Pistols of the watch world by matching some of the most unique talent to create timepieces unlike anything ever seen before. Pairing genius minds like F.P. Journe, Vianney Halter, Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei who all inconceivably blend design and micro-engineering to radical works of horological art. The HM1 was conceptualized by Büsser, designed by Eric Giroud, a former architect, and built by movement engineers Laurent Besse and Peter Speake-Marin. The known and unknown talent will be assembled and rotated from machine to machine where everyone involved is given credit for their hand (or wrist) in the project.

Much like a rock star leaving a successful band in pursuit of a solo career, Büsser left the Opus project at it's peak to begin MBandF, the first cultish independent collective where he is the charismatic spiritual leader.

Front-view (via Revolution)
Sideview of raised sapphire subdial next to central tourbillon

The HM1 rotor - Inspired by the battle-axe of the Mecha character 'Goldorak UFO Grendizer', from the 1975 Japanese Manga Max loved as a kid.

Exploded view of the movement

First Swiss Electro-Mechanical Watch, the 1960 Landeron 4750

Before quartz battery powered watches nearly destroyed mechanical innovation in the seventies, there existed a brief period of transition, an electro-mechanical era. The first battery-powered watches were, of course, the famed Hamilton Electric series of the late fifties and early sixties. There were other technological hybrids including the first electronic diode watch by the French company Lip and the transistorized Bulova Accutron with their tuning fork mechanisms.

This is the 1960 Landeron 4750, the first Swiss-electric movement. As you can see by the component diagram below, these were not simple watches like the inanimate battery powered Quartz of today. I'm featuring one of the more unique versions of this watch, the 'Montre à Couilles', as detailed in Pieter Doensen's book, built as a demonstration model with two externally cased battery compartments.

Landeron 4750 movement diagram (via

1975 Bulova Accutron 'Spaceview'

1974 Lip Electric

MATH WATCHES - Protractor and Slide Ruler Timepieces

Fifties geek-chic with this vintage 1958 Juvenia 'Architecture' watch featuring protractor and ruler hands. Featured in the Brunner/Pfeiffer-Belli book 'Wristwatches'

Their earlier 1945 Juvenia 'Arithmo' Slide Rule Watch

And with the door open to slide-rule watches, the testosterone-fueled leader of the math geeks is the 1973 Heuer 'Calculator.'

1990's Megapode

The Megapode, Ikepod's contribution to the hip mathematician. Is that an oxymoron?
2007 Megapode

Vintage Solar Powered Watches - A Partly Cloudy History

Evolution of the Sundial

1. Synchronar - Conceived in the early sixties and first produced in 1968, the first Solar watch ever was invented by the reclusive inventor Roger Riehl. Solar panels on the top with a sideview LED display. Heavily debated within a microcosm of vintage watch collectors as the first digital watch ever. That distinction is commonly given to the 1970's Pulsar LED. 

2. Nepro - 1975 LED with raised display and backside solar panels.

3. Uranus - "This is one of the earliest LED watches in existence. It is one of the very earliest "wearable" wristwatches made by Uranus (approx. 1971) and one of only a few made (hugely expensive to build). It actually predates the Pulsar and launched Uranus into a patent fight with Hamilton (Uranus lost). The thing that makes this watch unique is that it does not use an LSI (large scale integrated chip) but instead is made up of discrete logic and driver chips using hundreds of wire bonds to connect them up. It is truly a packaging marvel. The display is only hours and minutes. The face is divided in half horizontally with the LED in the upper half, the lower half being composed of solar cells in a fan pattern to supplement the battery, all in a gold filled case." by Guy Ball

4. Sicura LCD - 1976 LCD with innovative solution of putting solar panels on the side of the watch.

Sicura Ad

5. Sicura Analog - 1978 Analog version of the same watch.

6. Junghans 'Mega Solar' - 1990's radio-controlled, PVD-coated wristwatch with solar cell, date and integrated radio receiver from one of the most accurate clocks in the world - the Caesium Time Base at Germany’s National Institute of Natural Engineering and Sciences.

7. Citizen Crystron - 1976 "This was the first solar-powered analog wristwatch. It conformed to the conventional design of most analog watches except for the four square gray panels that take up most of the face. This watch began Citizen’s long-term commitment to solar powered watches, which has culminated in the very successful Eco-Drive line of watches." by Soluhr

8. Calcron & Louis Erard Calculator Watches - Mid to late seventies solar calculator watches with side panels. The non-solar Calcron is believed to be the first ever wrist-calculator watch made as originally featured here-->Link

9. Cristalonic 'Solar Quartz' by GmbH - 1980's LCD with an asymmetric black plastic case.

Cristalonic Advertisements

10. Lorus - 1980's solar LCD. A division of Seiko.

Sadly, development of the modern light-powered watch, like the Citizen Eco-Drive, eliminated the need for innovative visual configurations as solar panels now absorb light through traditional watch dials. It was fun while it lasted...

24 Hours 39 Minutes - Mars Wristwatch

24 Hours 39 Minutes - Mars WristwatchMars dial designed for JPL team

The Mars Exploration Rover engineering team had a problem...

A day on Mars is 24 hours and 39 minutes long. Dealing with the needs to align the team to Mar's solar day, they contacted a local watchmaker to create the very first Martian Watch. Due to his inability to produce only a few digital timepieces with the extra 39 minutes for a reasonable cost, he experimented by manipulating a traditional mechanical watch by slowing the watch down with weights.

It seems a missed opportunity by what could have been a much more interesting design in the end. I think the JPL should approach an appropriate watch company (or vice versa, they're busy!) to produce a mutually beneficial and aesthetically desirable timepiece for dual Earth-Martian time. I'm sure there are enough geeks out there who'd buy one. At the same time, there is more charm to this story as told in the article and video below. A bit more of the NASA spirit. What am I talking about? God, blogs are silly.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory Article

Video about the watchmaker from Discover Channel

The Fauxture of Time 02 - Time-aid Watch - Live World Clock Feed

The Fauxture of Time 02 - Time-aid Watch - Live World Clock Feed
The Fauxture of Time 02 - Time-aid Watch - Live World Clock Feed
The Fauxture of Time 02 - Time-aid Watch - Live World Clock Feed
Using a satellite/video interface, Time-aid can be programmed to display any clock face the user chooses, in real time, from a local clock tower to a sundial halfway around the world. This personal object contains advanced technology that, paradoxically, connects the wearer to history and the larger world. New and old, personal and global, Time-aid inspires an awareness of time and space. It uses technology to recuperate a connection with the reality of the world, all the while celebrating its potential. It is a very poetic solution that lets the mind roam and inspires the imagination. It reduces distance, enabling the wearer to view real-time feeds from both local clocks as well as those distant, shrinking the world in an instantaneous and palpable way. One imagines the intimacy of the experience being almost startling.

Part of the Timex 2154 Series. Wink...

Sir Clive Sinclair's Doomed FM Radio Watch

Sir Clive Sinclair's Doomed FM Radio Watch
Sir Clive Sinclair's Doomed FM Radio WatchThe man, the myth, the miniaturization of everything he could think of.

Sir Clive Sinclair - Inventor of the first pocket calculator (1972 Sinclair Executive), the first pocket television (1966 Microvision), the homemade LED watch (1975 Black Watch) and this 1984 FM radio watch prototype by Dagfinn Aksnes. Only few exist after the plug was pulled on production within days of it's introduction at an electronics trade show in Las Vegas.

Three separate body casings for the LCD watch, FM radio/tuner and center speaker are connected by bottom hinges, "flexicircuits" and protected by expandable accordion style "concertina" covers allowing the watch to curve to the wrist. The antenna for reception was a copper band concealed inside the strap and powered by two batteries, one in clock case, one in buckle.

I owned one for a time, loved it's prototypical Mars Rover qualities, soon discovered that the watch had many functional (not design) flaws and understand it's premature demise. Apparently there is a rich tradition of advanced products failing at Sinclair. A sign of a true trailblazer.

Dagfinn Aksnes Article
Planet Sinclair Article & Photos Article & Photos

Sir Clive Sinclair's Doomed FM Radio Watch
MB&F : Maximilian Busser & Friends Horological Machine No.1First Swiss Electro-Mechanical Watch, the 1960 Landeron 4750MATH WATCHES - Protractor and Slide Ruler TimepiecesVintage Solar Powered Watches - A Partly Cloudy History

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