There is no shortage of imagination at MB&F, as the brand’s Co-Creations lab attests. The home of pieces conceived by MB&F and crafted by top-tier Swiss manufacturers, table clocks, robocreatures, rocket pens, mechanical turtles with singing bird automata and even an intergalactic horological weather station come to life. The MusicMachine 1 of 2013 was MB&F’s first co-creation and was made in collaboration with Reuge, the last remaining Swiss producer of high-end music boxes with more than 155 years of expertise based in Sainte-Croix. For the MusicMachine 1 Reloaded edition, Max Büsser had design graduate Max Maertens work on a more streamlined, aerodynamic version of the spaceship-cum-music box. In our world of digital overload, it is surprising how a mechanical music box can still stir feelings of fascination and wonder.
MusicMachine 1 Reloaded
Büsser’s fascination with all things sci-fi is well-known and permeates almost every creation issuing from MB&F. The similarities between music boxes and mechanical watchmaking have always fascinated Büsser, and the first MusicMachine combined MB&F’s design codes with Reuge’s high-end music box talents to produce a “music box for today“.
Like the original MusicMachine 1, the Reloaded maintains its spaceship anatomy with dual propellers and sleek pontoons of landing gear, and each cylinder plays three tunes lasting 35 seconds each (Star Wars theme, “Imperial March” from The Empire Strikes Back and Star Trek theme on the left cylinder; Pink Floyd “Another Brick in the Wall”, Deep Purple “Smoke on the Water” and John Lennon “Imagine” on the right).
For the Reloaded edition, Büsser asked ECAL design graduate Max Maertens to evolve the original spaceship without losing the essence of the original. For the MusicMachine 1 Reloaded, which is more streamlined and aerodynamic, Maertens turned to aerospace engineering. “The entire piece,” says Maertens, “ is in a kind of flow. This is especially visible in the wings, which now look as if they are in a wind tunnel with invisible airflow around them.”
Instead of wood, the new version is made of anodised aluminium and available in blue, red or black editions limited to 33 pieces each. The sleek fuselage transmits the sound to the brass vibration plate inside the case, which is also conducted along the curved lateral struts and bead-blasted landing pods. The dimensions of the music machine are 381 wide x 476 long x 140mm in height with a weight of 3kg.
Like a watch, the energy used to power the music box is derived from coiled springs and transferred by gear trains; the unwinding speed is carefully regulated by fan regulators like those found in traditional minute repeater watches. As the two gleaming cylinders containing the melodies revolve, the 1,400 precision-placed pins pluck the teeth of steel combs to produce the hand-tuned notes. MusicMachine 1 Reloaded has two independent movements, each with its individual winding propeller. The two horizontal cylinders with pins reproduce three melodies each and rotate to meet the vertical steel combs with 72 individual hand-tuned teeth. A musician from Reuge is in charge of deciding the precise position of each pin that is then shaved and polished to ensure a uniform length. The two round shields next to the winding propellers are the speed regulators of the cylinders. To compensate for the fact that a fully wound mainspring turns the cylinders faster than when it is nearly unwound, the circular fan air regulators are there to provide more resistance when the rotations are faster.
The MB&F x Reuge MusicMachine 1 Reloaded is limited to 33 pieces in blue, red or black. The price is CHF 18,500 (excl. VAT). For more information, please visit www.mbandf.com.