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Friday, May 3, 2013

MB&F Creates Timeless Music Machine That Doesn’t Tell Time

The MB&F 'Music Machine' in black

The award-winning independent watchmaking firm, MB&F (Maximilian Busser and friends), is known for its technical and artistic innovations and for its creative partnerships that result in unusual timepieces that they define as micromechanic sculptures and performance art pieces.

However, even for this Geneva-based company, what it unveiled in Baselworld 2013 this year took its innovative prowess to a new level. In a partnership with iconic luxury music box maker, Reuge, the two created what MB&F calls the “Music Machine.” It’s a music box that is outside the box in every way imaginable.

Maximilian Busser, the founder of MB&F defined the parameters of the design and chose the music, explained Eléonor Picciotto, MB&F’s public relations representative. Reuge built the music box based on those specifications. The two cones that create the music contain 72 notes each and play six melodies. It uses 1,400 precision-placed pins that pluck the teeth of a "comb" as the cylinder revolves. It works in a traditional way but they are exposed on top of a sleek, futuristic looking spacecraft made in walnut that works as a sound amplification chamber.

The Music Machine in white at Baselworld. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

The songs performed by the cones are far from traditional. The one cone plays deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” (which was inspired by a fire during the Montreux Jazz Festival), Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” and John Lennon’s “Imagine. The second cone performs the Star Wars Theme and the Imperial March from Star Wars V The Empire Strikes Back, and the Star Trek theme song.

So how can a watchmaking company unveil a music box at the biggest watch fair in the world with a straight face? Picciotto explains that the company doesn’t call its products timepieces or watches. They call them “horological machines.” Creating a “music machine” is an extension of the concept. In addition, a traditional music box is based on the same mechanical principles as a watch.

As one would expect it is a limited edition item, in this case 66 pieces: 33 pieces in a white lacquer finish and 33 pieces in black lacquer. The cost is $12,300 Swiss francs ($13,174), about a quarter of what a MB&F watch starts at. However, others must have immediately saw the value as the Reuge website indicates that the entire line is sold out. 

Below is quick look at it in operation.

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