M.A.D Gallery came from a childhood dream of Maximilian Büsser, founder of MB&F, who wanted to create a showroom, a shelter of sorts for his favorite mechanical devices, a place where he can appreciate and play with his toys whenever he wanted to. It took considerable time for this dream to come true, but the gallery is now well and truly flourishing.
The first gallery opened in 2011 in Geneva a stone’s throw away from the MB&F office and atelier, followed by a second one in Taipei in 2014, and in 2016 a third opened in Dubai where Büsser currently lives.
The Hong Kong gallery will be MB&F’s fourth in the world and is operated in collaboration with Elegant Watch and Jewellery. It was high time the city, an international hub for art and watches, had its own M.A.D Gallery. While the store naturally showcases timepiece creations by MB&F, including 2018’s Moon Machine 2, the majority of the objects on sale are mechanical art objects that don’t necessarily tell time but are quirky and fun to play with.
Apart from MB&F’s own creations made in partnership with clockmaker L’Epée, the gallery also displays works from lesser known artists, which Büsser buys outright and resells them in his store.
M.A.D was the perfect platform for Büsser to showcase his own creations (made with friends of course), as well as other masterpieces by other creators he admires. Büsser calls his mechanical artworks unique examples of mechanical horology but, more than that, they were pieces of three-dimensional kinetic art.
“The same goes for all the creators featured in the Gallery: their craft transcends a practical purpose and their creations assume the status of artworks. Thanks to M.A.D.Gallery, we are meeting like-minded artists operating in parallel worlds; people who think like us and share our passion for creating mechanical art,” he says in a statement.
Here are a few objects that caught our eye on our last visit:
The work is inspired by a monumental spider sculpture called Maman created by Louise Bougeois (1911-2010) that has been installed around the world and is brought to relative miniature life by L’Epée 1839 for MB&F. The eye-catching spider-like creation is not for the faint-hearted. The three-dimensional, eight-legged sculpture is beautiful in its grotesque form and is an impeccably finished table or wall clock that tells the time in its black domed body. The head houses the regulator with its oscillating balance wheel, plus a set of menacing pincers, while the other end contains the mainspring barrel, which powers the movement.
2. Destination Moon
Also built by L’Epée 1839, Destination Moon is close to Büsser’s own heart as it was the quintessential torpedo-shaped rocket of his childhood imagination. The work follows the basic design of a real spaceship and is equipped with an eight-day movement. The base is an oversized winding crown, while hours and minutes are displayed on large diameter stainless steel discs with stamped numerals. Look closely and you’ll spot Neil – a space-suited figurine forged in solid silver and stainless steel that is magnetically attached to the latter which connects the crown to the movement.
3. Apesanteur IV
This levitating disk is made of thousands of tiny century-old mechanical watch components which French artist Quentin Carnaille sourced from watchmakers and antique dealers. Apesanteur is inspired by the strong, magnetic pull astronomy has with mechanical watchmaking. The resulting artwork is truly mesmerizing and dazzling in its poetic interpretation and is a piece you have to see in person to truly admire.
4. Music Machine 2
Who loves spaceships and rock and sci-fi melodies? No, not Marvel’s Star-Lord, but MB&F. The Music Machine 2 is unlike any music box you’ve ever seen before. Beneath its spaceship-like design is all the traditional elements of a music box, beautifully crafted by Reuge, a music box manufacturer with almost 150 years of expertise. MM2 does not play classical tunes, of course, instead, you’ll find themes from Star Wars and Star Trek, as well as Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, The Rolling Stones’ Angie and the Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go? Execs at Marvel, if you’re reading, maybe this is something else you can consider for the next Marvel blockbuster.
5. Machine Lights Type No. 5
Not everything inside M.A.D Gallery looks like something from the future. This set of hand-crafted lamps, titled Machine Lights by German sculptor Frank Buchwald have a distinct steampunk aesthetic that took the artist many years to develop. Each lamp is made using more than 200 individual components, painstakingly put together so the burnished blackened steel throws a warming glow of the light filaments and the rich brass into sharp relief. All the brass components are hand-polished while the steel is repeated hand-burnished with chemicals to achieve the right shade of black oxidation. To finish, the creation is completed with the addition of a hand-blown glass globe.
6. The Solitude of a Machine collection
Dotted around the walls of the M.A.D Gallery in Hong Kong is a surreal series of prints by Swiss artist Marc Ninghetto, who has brought his childhood heroes to life, imposing a larger-than-life Japanese manga robot Grendizer amongst the skyscrapers and natural surroundings of Hong Kong. The two prints, Les Freres De L’espace, and Le Camp de la Lune Noire are both exclusive to the M.A.D Gallery in Hong Kong.