Interview : Maximilian Büsser, founder MB&F Swiss watches
They say, persistence and hard work always pays-off in the long run as long as you have the will to follow your dream. Maximilian Büsser, founder and CEO of MB&F is one living example of persistantly following your dream no matter how many hardships you face. Giving a new dimension to the watchmaking industry with his far-sighted vision of making exclusive horological machines, backed-up by intense belief in his abilities, makes Maximilian Busser one of the pioneering Swiss watchmakers. His unique timepieces a
re so much more than just a gadget to keep track of time, rather they are artistic pieces of magnificence. Maximilian is also an inspiration for starups and people who want to follow their dreams, driven by their passion and not by the urge to mint money. So, it was only time before we got one on one with this charismatic watchmaker who revolutionized the watchmaking industry with his unique ideas.
DamnGeeky: Share your experience with watchmaking brands you have worked for? How it helped you in making MB&F a high-end watchmaking brand?
Maximilian Büsser: At Jaeger-LeCoultre I learned beautiful watchmaking and how to work. At Harry Winston I learned about who I am and what is important for me. These two experiences led to my decision to quit the corporate world and concentrate on a real creative and human adventure – MB&F – which makes me proud today and will make me proud in the future when I look back.
DamnGeeky: You took a leap of faith and invested all your savings in materializing the niche horological machines. What kept you motivated during the length of tough time?
Maximilian Büsser: Amazingly, I never needed to be kept motivated. I had taken the most important and meaningful decision of my life and I knew that whatever happened I had been right about it. The hardship when we nearly went bankrupt in 2007 was gut wrenching, but not because I would have lost all my money, because I could not accept that the adventure would stop there. And it did not. But even if it did, I would have at least tried, and that always kept me positive.
DamnGeeky: What is the most challenging yet satisfying experience you cherish at MB&F
a) Living in a small flat without salary for two years
b) Traveling 240 days a year
c) A successful person/CEO at MB&F
Maximilian Büsser: The most Challenging and the most satisfying are both the same: pushing the limits of creativity, pushing the boundaries of what can be done with such a small team and virtually no money. It is exhilarating and at the same time extremely frustrating, because I have become a creativity ogre! The lack of money and the extreme travelling are only a small price to pay so as to fuel that quest and hunger.
DamnGeeky: Which MB&F machine do you think is a game-changing horological innovation? And, which one is the closest to your heart?
Maximilian Büsser: Looking back, and it is bizarre that after nine years I can already choose amongst nine pieces, I have the impression that HM4 Thunderbolt will be seen in the future as one of the game changers in this industry – and HM6 Space Pirate will be the second. Two pieces of kinetic art which used high-end watchmaking as a canvas, but were at the same time so far from watches. And maybe Legacy Machine No1 will have brought a brand new perspective to traditional watchmaking. It proves that it is possible to be very innovative while remaining very classic. The canvas was stricter, the result still quite amazing.
DamnGeeky: We would love to call you Johny Ive of watchmaking industry. Is it the design that sells your high-end machines or the functionality?
Maximilian Büsser: I would tend to say a bit of both but actually neither. It is primarily the artistic concept behind each. Boiling down MB&F to design is actually a little insulting. Behind each MB&F there is a story, a very personal idea, which is told through a piece of watchmaking. Cars, planes or spaceships, they all stem from my childhood, and I see MB&F as much as my autobiography as my psychotherapy.
And then there are the insane years of engineering, craftsmanship and watchmaking which turn these unique ideas into incredible pieces of high-end watchmaking art.
DamnGeeky: Don’t you think machines like HM4 are too bulky to be worn comfortably on the wrist?
Maximilian Büsser: I remember that when I bought my 44mm Panerai in 1999 – years when men’s watches would at the best be 35mm in diameter, and everyone asked me if I was wearing a clock ! That was not so far back and shows how perceptions have changed.
What size is acceptable to wear is in people’s heads. The HM4 is an extremely comfortable piece to wear even on the smallest wrist, but it is psychologically not that easy to wear.
DamnGeeky: We assume all your timepieces have masculine element attached to them. Do females also prefer buying your exclusive machines?
Maximilian Büsser: I have noticed that approximately 15% of my pieces are worn by ladies – actually I know four very slender and elegant women who wear an HM4 on a daily basis ! They do not wear it as a piece of jewelry, but as a piece of art on their wrist.
DamnGeeky: What motivated you to incorporate complex time reading mechanism in your watches?
Maximilian Büsser: Watchmaking saved my life ! It gave me 23 years ago a passion, a meaning and even a surrogate family. I love beautiful and complex mechanical watchmaking. It is like a puzzle which needs to be created and solved at the same time. At MB&F reading time is not of the utmost importance. The beauty and complexity of the mechanical sculpture actually prevail.
DamnGeeky: What sets you apart from other Swiss watchmaking brands?
Maximilian Büsser: On top of our clearly different artistic approach, we are one of the few artists and artisans left in a world which has become increasingly market oriented and industrially driven.
DamnGeeky: Your designs reflect essence of sci-fi objects and supercars. What’s your next big inspiration in upcoming horological machines?
Maximilian Büsser: I actually do not know yet. The next HM creations still very driven by what made my heart tick as a child, while the next LM are still exploring the great masters of the 19th and 18th century. We will see how I evolve going forward. Am actually very curious myself about where I will go next.
DamnGeeky: Smartwatch industry is estimated to grow exponentially in the coming years. Do you also plan to foray into the smartwatch industry in the near future?
Maximilian Büsser: I know one should never say never, but I think I can here. We are not designers, we are mechanical artists – and I don’t see any craftsmanship, artistry or soul possible in smartwatches. They will become indispensable gadgets which will be as ergonomic and useful as possible. Not something which touches me.
DamnGeeky: Any suggestions for start-ups?
Maximilian Büsser: The only reason to launch a creative company is because it is your calling, never because of the money. There are 80% chances you will fail and 19% you will not make any money, so take the big step because you believe if you don’t, you will live all your life with regrets, and it is ok to fail because you tried.
Prepare for the worst because the worst will happen. Work like hell and never relent, never. Surround yourself with great people who work as hard as you, and treat them very well.
A heartiest thanks from DamnGeeky team to Maximilian Büsser for taking out the time from his busy schedule and giving such inspiring replies to our queries. Maximilian Büsser is truly one of the motivating figures for start-ups and young people looking to follow their passion. As for the MB&F watches, well they are mechanical art-pieces that look seriously eye-catchy.