Across the long history of watchmaking, independent agents have always played a part in its development. But the cottage industries of old have given way to young, energetic entrepreneurs in the industry, heading up boutique indie brands today. Edouard Meylan of H. Moser & Cie. is one; Max Büsser of MB&F is another.
Büsser in particular has long been a firm believer in partnerships, even before the founding of MB&F. His time at Harry Winston is well known, and Max Büsser & Friends (MB&F) literally injects the idea of partnerships into its very name.
By using the term “Friends” in place of “Frères,” he’s turned heritage in watchmaking into friendly competition, at a time when collaboration projects are thriving. But this has always been his nature. Even at Baselworlds past, “The Dream Factory” was a commercial collaboration between various independent watch brands of like thinking, as they banded together to present their novelties in a tent right across the grand façade of the main hall.
Across a lot of MB&F’s collaborations has always been a shared theme of diametric opposites in some way. The best examples are the brand’s work with L’Epée, a renowned clockmaker — the results have been modern table clocks that look like futuristic inventions of timekeeping, rather than the carriage clocks of old. The latest joint venture? With H. Moser & Cie., a brand which for many of us rings synonymous with contemporary classic watchmaking. But this particular project is unique in a different way: it’s a two-way collaboration, with MB&F adopting a Moser icon, and Moser adopting an MB&F design. The result is a two-model limited-edition production that’s twice as thrilling.
Said Büsser, “When I called Edouard to tell him that I wanted to collaborate on a creation, I mentioned that I really liked the double balance spring, the Moser fumé dials and the Concept watch series. Edouard immediately told me that he would let me borrow these features, but on condition that he could also reinterpret one of my machines. After an initial moment of surprise, I gave it some thought and agreed. I suggested the FlyingT model, which is particularly dear to my heart.” The project commemorates the 15th anniversary of MB&F as well as the 15th anniversary of H. Moser & Cie.’s relaunch.
The Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon
What Moser is lifting from MB&F is the concept of a three-dimensional movement, a design concept that’s seen across MB&F’s watches, be they Horological Machines or Legacy Machines. It’s a significant departure from H. Moser’s Cie.’s designs, which we typically see as minimalist, utilitarian with a classic wrist presence. The Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon emulates the design of the FlyingT, which was introduced by MB&F last year as its first ladies’ timepiece, one that was quickly coveted by gents.
The FlyingT, as you recall, bore an extruding flying tourbillon on the watch with an inclined dial placed at the lower right of the entire watch display. The vertically stacked movement design was outstanding, protected by a highly curved sapphire crystal. In the case of the Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon, instead of a flat hairspring, Moser’s engineering arm, Precision Engineering AG, has developed a cylindrical hairspring, which has an extended bridge so the hairspring breathes concentrically.
The cylindrical hairspring itself has a long historical presence, used primarily for high precision in marine chronometers in the past, which were required for marine navigation in those days of naval exploration. The tourbillon rises out of an aperture on the fumé, sunray-finished dials, with a domed sapphire crystal covering the watch. Despite these movement transformations, it remains a slim 5.5mm caliber, with a full oscillating weight.
The case without the domed sapphire crystal is a sub-10mm case; add in the crystal and it pops to a more significant 19.5mm. It’s not gonna fit under your jacket, but then it’s not the sort of watch that’s designed to be a hidden treasure. More contrarian than that, the case is in stainless steel, a nice play on modern and classic watch design with a non-precious material. The crown is placed on the opposite side at nine o’clock as well, another unconventional move.
The time indication is displayed on a sapphire disc that sits at the lower half of the dial, rising in a 40° angle against the horizontal plane and facing the wearer, providing time discreetly so if you’re trying to see the time on your watch discreetly in a meeting, you don’t have to tilt your head ever so slightly.
And unlike the MB&F LM FlyingT, it’s not tilted to one side, so left and right-handed watch wearers can see the time just as conveniently. Five references of this watch have been introduced with different dial colors, each in a limited production of 15 pieces. The watches are priced at CHF 79,000 / USD 79,000.
Self-winding caliber HMC 810; hours and minutes; one-minute flying tourbillon with cylindrical hairspring; 72-hour power reserve
42mm; stainless steel; crown at nine o’clock; vertically tilted sapphire-crystal subdial; fumé dials in Funky Blue, Burgundy, Cosmic Green, Off-White or Ice Blue; limited to 15 pieces in each dial
Hand-stitched alligator leather with steel folding clasp
CHF 79,000 / USD 79,000
The LM101 MB&F × H. Moser & Cie.
As Büsser pointed out in his statement, he was interested in collaborating with Moser for three particular highlights of the brand — the fumé dials, double balance springs and the Concept watch series, an unbranded range of timepieces that Moser produces from time to time.
Thus, in order to play up the beauty of Moser’s crafts, MB&F chose one of its classics, the Legacy Machine 101, to emphasize the purity of design and function in this watch. The LM101’s movement was originally designed with Kari Voutilainen, featuring a large suspended balance wheel that’s now fitted with Moser’s Straumann double balance spring, that compensates for the differences in timekeeping caused by gravity effect on each hairspring.
Where MB&F’s Legacy Machines have favored lacquered dials to celebrate the tradition of timekeeping displays, the collaboration model discards them in line with the Concept watch philosophy, with leaf hands indicating the time at two o’clock and power reserve at six o’clock.
The sunray-brushed, fumé dials are otherwise pristine, so your attention is fully focused on the LM101’s engine with the double hairsprings breathing rhythmically at a slow 2.5Hz pace. This is ASMR for a watch, if such a thing were possible.
Flip the watch over and the classicism of the LM101 goes out the window. The classic finishing of the movement is refreshingly treated with black NAC on the bridges of the movement, giving its classic curved, bevelled design a sensuous, dark presence.
The watch is also constructed in steel, to further highlight the significance of this collaboration, since this is one in a handful of wristwatch projects (three that we can recall) that MB&F has crafted in steel. The brand has developed four dials for this project with Moser, including a special Yas Marina blue that’s specially developed for the brand’s retail partner there, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons. Each reference will be produced in 15 pieces, with pricing to come.
Manual-winding MB&F caliber; 2.5Hz; hours and minutes; floating balance wheel with Straumann double hairspring; black NAC-treated bridges; 45-hour power reserve
40mm; stainless steel with domed sapphire crystal; fumé dials in Funky Blue, Cosmic Green, Red or Yas Marina Blue (only available with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons); limited to 15 pieces in each dial
Hand-stitched calfskin with stainless-steel and titanium folding clasp