Watches As Art: MB&F Publishes Its Catalogue Raisonné
Like any artist, from Monet to Rothko, a catalogue raisonné is a comprehensive and annotated listing of an artist’s body of work. It is something that the art world takes quite seriously, but until now, a catalogue raisonné has not seen to encompass the world of watches.
While the mechanical wristwatch started life as a necessity, in the post-quartz crisis era, it has seen its status elevated to anything but. In the modern era, to purchase, wear, and use a mechanical wristwatch is a conscious effort to convey something about yourself and engage via patronage with the centuries-old craft that is mechanical watchmaking.
To that end, watches have often become (and to some degree, have always been) miniature canvases to display the artistic vision of their makers. If these early pieces are the “Old Masters” of horological artistry, then there is no maison that better exemplifies the concept of contemporary horological art than Max Büsser & Friends.
“MB&F: The First Fifteen Years”
Not one to be held to convention, MB&F has published one of the first watchmaking examples of a catalogue raisonné. Entitled “MB&F: The First Fifteen Years” and spanning over 300 pages of information on every timepiece produced from 2005 to 2020, it includes all 160 product variations along with over 400 photographs and indicates details such as the model name, reference number, materials, years in production, and the exact quantity produced.
“The idea for the project came about when a customer who had bought an LM2 in red gold wrote to me asking how many models had been made,” explainsed MB&F Founder Maximilian Büsser in a press release. “So, I looked it up and told him that his timepiece was one of 31 pieces made. He wrote back in complete surprise, saying that it couldn’t possibly be correct as his watch wasn’t a limited edition. I told him that the number was right, and he was ecstatic!”
Written by Suzanne Wong and William Massena, both veterans of the watchmaking world themselves, this unique work is being produced by publishing house Editions de La Martinière and distributed by Abrams. The first run includes 2,000 copies, with 500 copies being sold throughout the publishing houses’ network of stores starting October 2022. The remaining 1,500 will be reserved for MB&F and its partners and will be delivered in a special protective box made of the same high-density foam used to package MB&F timepieces.