During Watches and Wonders a few months ago, MB&F invited us over to take a look at its new home. And I’m saying “home” because it’s an actual 120-year-old house that the company recently moved into. Charris Yadigaroglou, MB&F’s head of marketing, took the time to show us around the new place. And at the end of the visit, we got a sneak peek at what was in store for the future. Yes, we already got an early look at MB&F’s new driver’s watch, the HM8 Mark 2, which we can finally share with you today!

In my short tenure as a watch journalist, I had never visited a watch brand’s headquarters before. So when the folks at MB&F sent out the invite to check out their new place, I was very eager to go. For some reason, though, I feel that this visit was not very representative of what other headquarters look like. Indeed, just like with nearly anything Max Büsser’s brand does, the M.A.D. House is quite different. First, I’ll show you around MB&F’s new villa on the outskirts of Geneva, and I’ll save the new HM8 Mark 2 for last.

Max Büsser

The MB&F Lodge

Immediately when you enter the M.A.D. House, you feel that it’s not going to be any normal office visit. I’ve worked in the corporate world for a while, and the new MB&F office is unlike most of the offices I’ve seen before. As I mentioned, it’s a 120-year-old house, and when you step in, it’s more like entering a classic mountain lodge. Then again, the industrial objects around the room and the hypermodern reception desk give away that this is not your next place to stay in the Swiss Alps.

While I was waiting at reception, I could hear people walking around the building. In fact, you can hear the wooden floors squeaking with every step you take (every move you make…). For a watch brand’s main office, I expected something a lot more clinical and less bohemian. But then again, I guess MB&F is not your typical watch brand. After a little while, Charris came down the (also very squeaky) wooden stairs, and after a short introduction, we started the tour around the office.

Home of watchmakers

We went through one door right next to the reception area, and that brought us into the watchmakers’ offices. Other than the high work benches and the sticky dust-removing strips on the floor, the rooms still felt very “housey.” The eight watchmakers sit in what used to be the living room and part of the kitchen of the house. The wooden paneling and high ceilings are still there. It’s almost like MB&F decided to squat the house and replace all the furniture with watchmaking equipment.

It looked like a very nice environment to be working in, though. A lot of light comes through the big windows, and there’s a lot of space around the house, so you don’t feel like you’re in a cramped space at all. Charris told us that the watchmakers are meant to work on all the company’s different movements. That’s how they keep the job interesting and how every watchmaker can keep improving his or her skills. And it’s an example of how they try to keep everything at MB&F fresh and new.

Up the stairs

The next door brought us into the quality-control room. When we were there, they were checking whether a set of base plates that just came back from a third party matched the agreed-upon color. Charris showed us that they had to be sent back because they didn’t exactly match. And that wasn’t an exception in the company’s daily business. Because MB&F tries to do everything differently, the company often asks third parties to try things that haven’t been done before. But that also means they often need multiple attempts to get it right.

Then it was time to climb those squeaky wooden stairs. On the first floor, there are a few workspaces and meeting rooms. And in the hallway, there was a big bookcase with interesting books and design artifacts. We walked into a few of the office spaces, said “hi” to a few of the people there, and then went up to the second and highest floor. This is where Max Büsser’s office is, next to a big meeting room and another office space. There, Charris showed us some of the 3D-printed models that were made during the development of MB&F’s watches.

Charris Yadigaroglou, MB&F’s head of marketing

Driver’s watches

And that’s something you see all around the M.A.D. House — signs of development and design processes. It feels like everything is there to contribute to the next new thing in the pipeline, including the art on the walls. And that, Charris tells us, is exactly the way the house was meant to be. It should be a place where you literally feel at home, but it should also be a place where you feel inspired and are driven to think differently. Only by doing so are those at MB&F able to come up with such groundbreaking watches like the Horological and Legacy Machines.

And after a short story on the development of HM10, the “Bulldog,” it was time to take a look at some watches. And two of those watches were the all-new HM8 Mark 2s. These pieces very much follow the company’s tradition of driver’s watches, like the HM5 from 2012, the HMX from 2015, and the HM8 from 2016. All watches are inspired by the Amida Digitrend, a watch on which you read the time on the side of the case instead of from the top. But of course, MB&F wouldn’t be MB&F if the execution of the concept weren’t a bit different.

The HM8 Mark 2: Back to the dream

It’s no secret that, as a child, Max Büsser dreamed of becoming a car designer. The lack of funds pushed him to look for something else in which he could put his creativity into practice, and the rest is history. But his passion for cars is still there, and it’s something he actively incorporates into the design of his watches. And just like the watches mentioned above, the all-new HM8 Mark 2 is a very good example of that. Just keep these pictures of the Porsche 918 Spyder and the more classic Fiat Zagato Double Bubble in mind when you look at it, and you’ll know what I mean.

The previous HM8, with its big roll bars, looks like the least ergonomic of MB&F’s driver’s watches. The Mark 2 seems to be more in line with the earlier HM5 and HMX, which looked a lot more streamlined and ergonomically pleasing. To each their own, of course, but I’m more of a fan of the latter. And this new Mark 2 looks just like a nifty little roadster on your wrist! With those two bubbles, executed in either racing green (limited to 33 pieces) or white, it looks like it can drive off at any second.

Light yet sturdy

In both cases, the colored body parts are manufactured in MB&F’s proprietary CarbonMacrolon. This material is both very light and robust. At the same time, though, it can also be finished in many different ways, just the way that the company’s designers like it. The watch’s chassis is made of Grade 5 titanium, another featherweight material, and both the exhibition case back and hood are made out of sapphire. Because of their shape, both are quite difficult to manufacture.

The movement — or engine — inside is a highly modified automatic movement from Girard-Perregaux. The jumping-hour module on top is developed in-house by MB&F. Through the hood, you can see the company’s signature 22K gold battle-axe rotor spinning away. Surprisingly, the hour and minute discs are actually placed horizontally. So to project the time at an angle of 90 degrees, MB&F installs two prisms that also magnify the numbers for better readability. 

A double de-clutch crown

And the crown is not your usual screw-down crown. Oh no, this crown has a “double de-clutch” system, which you operate by pushing it in and turning it three-quarters to release it. This keeps the crown out of the way and prevents it from accidentally hitting or catching on anything. And although this might be one of the more ergonomically pleasing models, it’s still an apparatus on the wrist.

With a length of 47mm and a width of 41.5mm, you might think you’re talking about a regular watch. But with its height of 19mm and unusual case shape, you’ll most certainly notice this one on the wrist. But that is, of course, precisely the idea behind it.

The MB&F HM8 Mark 2 is available to order now for €70,000 excluding VAT. Both the white and racing-green versions come on a calfskin strap with sailcloth upholstery. For more information on the watches, please visit MB&F’s official website.

Let me know in the comments what you think of Max Büsser and Friends’ newest creation.

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