Time for something a little bit different! We obviously dedicate the majority of our time and articles to the latest timepieces to see the light of day. But as many of you will know, MB&F is about more than just timepieces for the wrist. In 2013, MB&F started its line of successful MB&F Co-Creations, working together with creators of spectacular conceptual art pieces. These pieces are sometimes rooted in the world of timekeeping, including some of the most incredible clocks that we have ever seen. But the Co-Creations actually started with the MusicMachine, a unique music box created in collaboration with Reuge. Almost a decade later, both brands worked together on a new version of that first music box that is appropriately called MusicMachine 1 Reloaded.

The passion that connects us all at Fratello is obviously the world of horology. But my guess is that many of our readers are also avid music fans. Looking at the Fratello team, there are quite a few serious music lovers among us. We might not all like the same styles or genres, but we share a passion for great music that we love to play in the Fratello offices. I have confessed before that my passion for music is actually even bigger than my passion for watches. It’s pure blasphemy, I know. But my love for music goes back even further than the days when I proudly picked out my first Swatch at 12 years old. That’s why this new revamped version of the MusicMachine 1 Reloaded genuinely excites me.

The MB&F Co-Creations MusicMachine 1

MB&F started its Co-Creations line back in 2013 with the first release of the MusicMachine 1. It showed the incredible power of the platform that Maximilian Büsser had built through collaboration with other creative brands. But it also proved that a conceptual brand such as MB&F has the power to produce more than timepieces for the wrist. The Co-Creations series has become a great platform for MB&F to work together with some of the world’s leading creators of clocks, writing instruments, and music boxes. My personal favorites from the series are the MB&F Medusa and MB&F Orb clocks created in collaboration with L’Epée 1839. The clock shaped like a jellyfish is a stunning piece of magic, especially at night when it lights up.

The MB&F Medusa

Between 2013 and 2015, MB&F and Reuge collaborated on creating three MusicMachines. Each of the three creations played different songs. But unlike the music boxes that are familiar to most people, these MusicMachines actually played modern music. Add the ultra-modern design of all three creations, and the traditional idea of music boxes vanishes into thin air. Never before had music boxes been such cool and conceptual pieces of art that also played some cool music.

The original Musicmachine 1 in black from 2013

The magic is in the music

For the MusicMachine 1 from 2013, MB&F and Reuge worked together with the young Chinese designer Xin Wang. He designed a music box that looked like it came straight from a Star Wars movie. And not entirely coincidentally, the music box played the “Imperial March” from The Empire Strikes Back. But we’ll get to the music in a bit. The design still looks like something from the actual movies.

The original Musicmachine 1 in white from 2013

For the design of the new MusicMachine 1 Reloaded, MB&F worked together with the young German designer Maximilian Maertens. Martens has been working with MB&F on multiple projects as an industrial designer. The central idea behind this new version of the MusicMachine 1 was to create a more streamlined and open version of the original design. Having said that, the original futuristic idea is still very much intact.

The design of the MB&F MusicMachine 1 Reloaded

The new design still looks a lot like a spaceship. It still features dual propellers and twin silver cylinders mounted on a redesigned landing gear. But as you can see, Maertens also added some retro-inspired flair to the overall design. The central body shape and the shape of the “floaters” on the landing gear clearly show 1950s influences. It’s the design language you will also find in car and jet fighter designs from that decade. Combined with the feel of the materials of the cylinders, it looks like a very cool modern design steeped in the past.

On top of that, Maertens also chose different materials than those that were used for the original MusicMachine. The entire body is now made of anodized aluminum, in contrast to the wood of the original MusicMachine. While the piano-lacquered wood from the first version was absolutely stunning, anodized aluminum has the advantage of making the MusicMachine 1 Reloaded look as if it were one fused piece. This makes it even more streamlined and spectacular than the original.

The music of the MB&F MusicMachine 1 Reloaded

When it comes to the music, MB&F and Reuge decided to use the same tunes as the original version played. The left cylinder plays the Star Wars theme, “Imperial March” from The Empire Strikes Back, and the theme from Star Trek. The right cylinder plays Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall,” Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.” All of these tunes were personally picked by Max Büsser. He says, “In addition to the science fiction themes, I wanted to include three songs that were important to me during the first 20 years of my life. From a long list, I managed to whittle it down to three, but it was quite an ordeal!”

To ensure these tunes come alive, MB&F collaborated with Reuge once again, as the brand has on all the previous MusicMachine creations. Reuge was founded in 1865 in Sainte-Croix, Switzerland. The company has over 155 years of expertise and is the world’s leading manufacturer of musical automatons. To bring these six tunes to life mechanically is as impressive as creating a mechanical watch. The construction and workings of a music box are truly something special, and I would advise you to check out the full story on the MB&F website. In order for me to explain it, this would not be an introduction article, but rather, a full-on technical thesis.

The technical brilliance of the MB&F MusicMachine 1 Reloaded

But to give you an idea of the magic and craftsmanship of the music box creators, I will provide a small highlight. To start off the process, a musician examines the six different pieces of music. He or she will then pick out the most recognizable passages to use and recreate for the music box. In the creation, the musician would keep in mind that one cylinder contains the three rock melodies while the other cylinder contains the three sci-fi-inspired tunes. The musician must also remember that each cylinder’s pins would pluck one 72-note comb.

What shows the great skill and craftsmanship of the musician is working out two groups with three arrangements, each one limited to approximately 35 seconds. In doing so, the multitude of notes that these songs are made up of — keeping in mind that some notes are used in all three songs and some are just used in one or two songs — create a magical puzzle that requires you to understand musical thinking and combine it with mathematics. The result can only be realized in a technical masterpiece. Bringing music alive mechanically is truly something special.

The creation of the music box

But that is only the theoretical part. After the musician has done their job, it’s all about the realization of the actual MusicMachine 1 Reloaded. The creation contains two independent movements. Each of the movements consists of a winding propellor, a mainspring barrel resembling a piston under the propellor, a horizontal cylinder with pins creating three melodies, and a vertical comb with individual hand-tuned teeth sounding each note. The two movements are mirror images of each other, and as such, they create perfect symmetry. Additionally, both combs are placed on the outside. In order to achieve that, the design of the movement components and architecture were inverted.

All in all, this is another spectacular MB&F Co-Creation that shows the brilliance of Max Büsser’s creative platform. The MusicMachine 1 Reloaded will be available in black, blue, and red for CHF 18,500 (excluding taxes). All three colors will be limited to 33 pieces each, and the music boxes will be available through MB&F’s retail partners. A small number of pieces will also be available at the MB&F online store. I personally love seeing these music boxes, as they combine my love for music and mechanical wizardry. On top of that, they would look absolutely amazing in any modern interior. So if you have the funds, I would be quick, as I expect these to go fast. Probably faster than one full play of all six tunes.

For more information, visit the official MB&F website, and let us know what you think of this creation in the comments section!