How many of us can say we fulfilled the dreams we had as children? More likely than not, one is taught that to come into adulthood is to shed the skin of childlike wonder. Many things come into play, of course. Reality is one and so are external uncontrollable variables.
As a child, MB&F’s Maximilian Büsser spent his days dreaming of being a car designer. He was completely besotted, drawing and sketching his idea of a fast machine on every surface imaginable. He remained steadfastly loyal until the end of high school, the time he got wind of the world-famous ArtCenter College of Design from California coming to open a campus in La Tour-de-Peilz, a stone’s throw from his childhood home. He was ecstatic, until he looked at the school fees. Mum and dad said they would find a way, but the lad knew better. He shook his head and swallowed the hard pill.
Büsser ended up at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne for engineering, as he was assured his numerical ability would guarantee success in the career alternative. But life had other plans.
“I lost my way, I lost my marbles, and ended up in the watchmaking industry,” he says. Still entranced with machines, he eventually became one of the most respected individuals in the horological world and his brand, one of its most successful independent players.
It took decades for Büsser to get to where he is — years of toil and rediscovery, of growing and shedding of skin, to arrive at the point where carte blanche became part of his job description. He was able to come back to his first love and combine it with his current, which resulted in a number of outlandish timepieces, such as the HM5, HMX and HM8, inspired by the automobile world. His latest creation, however, is a fusion between all three.
Earlier in the year, we were able to catch Büsser at MB&F’s new M.A.D. House right outside of Geneva. The 120-year-old building is perched atop a hill, where sheep from the landlord’s farm often visit to graze. The manor has an eccentric look to it and can very well pass as the home of the Addams family. After all, it is where a bunch of “mad scientists” gather anyway. You should see the amount of (phenomenal!) mechanical sculptures populating the various floors.
Büsser, in his relaxed sweatshirt and cargos, took a seat near the window of his work space. The shelves display a variety of books and memorabilia, the walls pinned with sketches of his past work. We were meant to talk about the new iterations of the LM Perpetual and LM2. For the first time ever, the former is presented in a stainless steel and salmon combo and inherits the ergonomic corrector pushers first seen on the LM Perpetual EVO. The latter celebrates the Legacy Machine’s 10 anniversary with a palladium case — notoriously difficult to work with — and a beautiful aquamarine plate. But conversation naturally segued to the HM8 Mark 2, which Büsser mentioned was still under embargo.
“My wife already has first dibs on this, to which I said no way!” he quips. As mentioned, the HM8 Mark 2 features the design codes of its predecessors. From the HM5, it takes the external bodywork’s supercar styling. Inspired by Marcello Gandini’s design for the Bertone Lamborghini Miura with its louvres on the rear window, the HM5 was given slats to allow light into the movement to charge the luminescence. From the HMX inspired by coachbuilders Touring Superlegger, it was the ergonomics and compactness. And finally from the HM8, it was the visible mechanics and Girard-Perregaux base movement. The HM8 took its design cues from Can-Am cars from the famous Canadian American Racing Championship. The roll bars seem familiar?
The HM8 Mark 2’s shape was also heavily influenced by the Porsche 918 Spyder and its sapphire crystal, the Zagato double bubble. Place all this within an aerodynamic sandwich of CarbonMacrolon and grade 5 titanium, and you get a true supercar for the wrist.
“The rotor you see was actually so complex to make because one of the blades is only two-tenths of a millimetre thick. There’s no way you can make something in 22-carat gold that thin. Because when you machine it, it’s so soft that it’ll just break,” Büsser explains. “So this is actually done by starting with a block of gold. You stamp it as if it is a coin. The issue here is if the watchmaker makes a micro scratch on it when he’s assembling, we just throw it away.”
Like its forerunners, the HM8 Mark 2 is powered by a unique combination of mechanical and optical engineering. “It’s actually a system that harnesses an optical illusion. There are discs which are flat underneath and a prism in sapphire which is sending you the information vertically, but there’s nothing vertical in this watch.” The hours and minutes are optically magnified and projected 90o. It also features a brand-new type of crown that has sort of a double declutching system. It works by pushing the crown in and turning it three-quarters to release.
The HM8 Mark 2 is available in two editions, grade 5 titanium and British racing green CarbonMacrolon (limited to 33 pieces) or grade 5 titanium with a white CarbonMacrolon case.
“This is the kind of watch I want to wear today, from the way I dress to the way I live,” says Büsser, who sees value in dreaming big and not taking things too seriously. The HM8 Mark 2 is a culmination of all the things MB&F fans have loved in this automotive series for the past decade. But more importantly, it serves as a reminder that wherever life leads you, it is never too late to revisit your dreams.
This article first appeared on June 26, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.