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Prix Gaïa 2018 – Maximilian Busser. Entrepreneurship category

The Jury for the Gaïa Prize is paying tribute to Maximilian Büsser in recognition of his creative approach to watchmaking in the design and marketing of his products, and for the innovative way he manages his business.

By Watchonista


Maximilian Büsser was born in 1967 in Milan, Italy. As a very young boy, he moved to Lausanne in Switzer- land, where he spent the rest of his childhood. An en- gineer by training, he graduated in 1991 with a degree in microtechnology from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).

Maximilian Büsser's passion for watchmaking was forged working as Product Manager and Sales and Marketing Manager for Europe at Jaeger-LeCoultre, which increased its turnover tenfold in the 1990s. An entrepreneur at heart, he was just 31 when he was appointed Managing Director of Harry Winston Timepieces. During his seven years there, he transformed this company into a well-respected watchmaking brand, by developing strategy, products, marketing and international distribution, integrating design, re- search & development and production into its structure. The company's turnover increased 900% and Harry Winston became a key player in this highly competitive sector.

In July 2005, Maximilian Büsser created the first creative label in fine watchmaking – MB&F (Maximilian Büsser & Friends) – in collaboration with Serge Kriknoff. This enabled him to achieve his dream: to have his own brand dedicated to developing radical watchmaking concepts, within highly creative small groups, made up of people with whom he loved working. The Horological Machine No. 1, unveiled in 2007, was the first piece to reflect the MB&F state of mind: designed to look like a living creature, it features two juxtaposed dials showing the hours and minutes sepa- rately; meanwhile, its four barrels – like lungs – deploy a common energy which powers the heart of the watch.

Key timepieces

In 2007, MB&F unveiled the HM1, their first Horologi- cal Machine. With its sculptural 3D case and its beauti- fully decorated movement, the HM1 set the tone for the Horological Machines which would follow: the HM2, HM3, HM4, HM5, HM6, HM7, HM8 and HMX — more than simply timekeeping machines, these were Machines which symbolised time itself.

In 2015, it was the turn of the Legacy Machine Perpetual featuring a fully integrated perpetual calendar. The LM Split Escapement was unveiled in 2017. MB&F currently alternates between Horological Machines which are resolutely nonconformist, and Legacy Machines which are inspired by history.

In 2011, MB&F launched the round collection of Lega- cy Machines. These more conventional pieces — conventional for MB&F — paid tribute to the watchmak- ing excellence of the 19th century, by reinterpreting complications by the great watchmaking innovators in the form of contemporary objets d'art. The LM1 and LM2 were followed by the LM101, the first MB&F Ma- chine equipped with a movement entirely developed in-house.

In addition to its Horological and Legacy Machines, MB&F has created spatial music boxes (MusicMa- chines 1, 2 and 3) in collaboration with Reuge, a premier producer of mechanical music boxes; and table clocks in collaboration with Epée 1839: a clock which is designed to look like a space platform (Starfleet Ma- chine), a rocket (Destination Moon), a spider (Arach- nophobia), an octopus (Octopod), and three robot clocks (Melchior, Sherman and Balthazar). In 2016, MB&F and Caran d’Ache co-created a writing instru- ment in the shape of a rocket called the Astrograph.

MB&F has won four accolades at the Grand Prix d'Hor- logerie de Genève: in 2016, the Legacy Machine Perpetual won the calendar watch award; in 2012, the Legacy Machine No. 1 received a double accolade: firstly from watchmaking fans who awarded it the People's Choice Award and, secondly, from a professional jury who awarded it the Men's Watch Prize; then, in 2010, the HM4 Thunderbolt won the Design Watch Prize. Last but not least, in 2015, the HM6 Space Pirate was awarded a "Red Dot: Best of the GAÏA PRIZE 2018 Best" award — the top prize available at the Red Dot Awards international competition.

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