On January 14th, 2012, I visited the M.A.D.Gallery in Geneva. For those of you who don't know, the Gallery is owned by Maximilian Buesser, the visionair and founder of MB&F.
Max produces the Horological Machines you may have seen here at Watchuseek or elsewhere on the internet. Maybe even you saw them in real life (if not, you should, they are masterpieces and one of their kinds).
The idea behind the M.A.D.Gallery was to gather pieces of art that express the meaning of "machines" and through these art works understand why MB&F watches aren't just watches, but are machines themselves.
From my one hour visit, I can tell you that MB&F has succeeded in this goal. Walking through the Gallery, viewing the wonderful pieces of art, and listening to the explaining words of Charris Yadigaroglou, MB&F director of communication, it all comes together.
Charris told us that the M.A.D.Gallery was offered to Maximilian Buesser while he was at the Baselworld watch fair. Taking the decision to get it, during the long hours of work at Baselworld, has turned out to be a good one. What once was a store for household equipment, like plates, dinner gear etc., with a lowered ceiling used in many offices, was transformed into a great Gallery with a touch of history. After the ceiling was removed Max and his friends noticed an old ceiling with wooden layers. The famous color scheme (lots of black and white) was used for the final touch.
Allow me to show you some pictures and continue this story through my camera lens:
My wife and I arrived at the M.A.D.Gallery on Saturday, January 14th, 2012. The M.A.D.Gallery can be found at Rue Vendaine 11 in the old center of Geneva, in a cosy district with more gallery's, nice bars and restaurants.
After entering the Gallery (visitors need to push the door bell) and being welcomed by Charris, one of the first items we noticed were these little kids machines, called the 'Konstantin B', an unexpected vehicle to drive you MAD'. These vehicles are designed by Nika Zupanc, a female designer from Slovenia, who also designed for Dutch design brand MOOOI.
The M.A.D.Gallery also stocks the two versions (one small, one big) of the Hourglass, by Marc Newson for Ikepod.
Each hourglass is hand blown from one single piece of borosilicate glass filled with an incredible amount of tiny nanoballs each coated in different material (black stainless steel, stainless steel, copper, and yellow gold). In fact, each large hourglass contains eight million nanoballs to mark the passing of 60 minutes, while the smaller version which marks 10 minutes contains 1.3 million nanoballs. When the glass is inverted, the nanoballs trickle beautifully from the top bulb down to the bottom bulb.
The wall in the back of the Gallery, you can't miss. The wall contains images of all people involved in MB&F and the M.A.D.Gallery.
Their are two small desks in the Gallery. On one of them I found these two "machines". On the left you see the final "Christmas ball" which was sent out to MB&F friends all over the world as a card. Daniel Bjugard shows how it works. I kept mine as a card, because I tend to believe this will become a collector's item . On the right you will notice a machine that actually "walks" after it has been hand-wound. MB&F offered this machine to business relations at Baselworld 2011. Mine has red feet, instead of the black shown in the picture.
I could not resist to ask Charris for the Legacy Machine #1. Here he is taking it out from the uniquely designed showcase (by the same architect who helped to transform the former store into this fantastic Gallery).
Next to the LM1 showcase stands this rather impressive dive helmet. Although it was meant to be for sale, Maximilian decided to keep this one as a permanent piece of art for his Gallery. This helmet comes from the US and dates back to the 1930s. It was dated back to the 30s, because of the rather unsual hold on top. It most likely belonged to a coal pot once.
The Legacy Machines ... no words can describe their beauty, but Max's words can explain the idea behind these masterpieces and highly collectable watches, err, sorry, machines.
Look at the huge, sapphire "bulb" on the watch. It's incredible, yet very wearable.
Comparing the LM1 with my IWC 7 days. No competition, not in the same league...
Legacy Machine N°1's transcendental in-house movement bears testimony to the enormous talent of its creators. Jean-François Mojon and his team at Chronode (Best Watchmaker Prize at the 2010 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève) met the considerable challenge of developing the calibre for LM1 from a blank sheet, while acclaimed independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen took responsibility for the aesthetic design and for strictly ensuring the utmost respect for tradition and fine-finishing. The movement of Legacy Machine N°1 proudly bears the names of both its creators, and is the first calibre other than Voutilainen's own to bear his name.
Charris also showed us the HM #4. To set the scene and provide further authenticity, real titanium rivets have been hand applied to the Thunderbolt’s titanium fuselage. The dual dials glow and sparkle with a warm vintage patina created using a special blend of paint mixed with cream-coloured Super-LumiNova and very fine copper particles. The period look is further enhanced by the distinctive strap, which has been crafted from leather obtained from genuine antique Swiss military bags. The here shown Razzle Dazzle and the Double Trouble’s authentic vintage accoutrements adorn a thoroughly modern, state-of-the-art Horological Machine featuring a 311-component, in-house movement developed specifically and exclusively for the Thunderbolt. Razzle Dazzle and Double Trouble are ebullient limited editions of eight pieces each. And as each mildly subversive illustration is individually hand painted (three to four weeks per watch), each is unique.
Back from the Horological Machines to the other 'machines', inside the Gallery. Shown is the 'Moo Machine', by Chinese artist Xia Hang. This particular machine transforms to, what could like a bike:
picture courtesy of MB&F
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Frank Buchwald, German artist and illustrator, builds what he draws (see his painting in the back): Machine Lights. The M.A.D.Gallery showcases 3 of his artist works. On the left is the Machine Light, Type 11, on the right is the Machine Light, Type 01 (remarkable how this series resembles the naming and numbering of MB&F's Horological Machines).
Jake Dyson (yes, he is a family member of the Dyson's, known for their famous vacuum cleaner) invented these lamps. The silver disc rotates and pushes the scale up and down through which the light differs from the angle. I was told that Maximilian has one of these in his house and finds it relaxing.
For the opening of the MAD Gallery, Denis Hayoun, photographer, has created a series of photographs focusing on the works of Swiss kinetic artist Jean Tinguely.
The M.A.D.Gallery, of course, also showcases the MB&F Horological Machines.
This robot, designed by Tatsuya Matsui (with an MB&F HM on his left wrist!) automatically "waves" to the people walking by. A rather clever way to attract visitors. Tatsuya Matsui developed with his own company humanoid robots, including “Posy” and “Palette”, and has exhibited his work at numerous art institutes and special festivals including the Venice Biennale, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, as well as the Museum of Decorative Arts inside the Louvre.
Last but not least, I invite you to listen to what Max has to say about his M.A.D.Gallery. A must visit when you are in Geneva.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed my report. I'd like to thank Charris, Geneva, and MB&F for their warm welcome. Max, I would like to thank you for your brilliance. You are a true visionair.The MB&F M.A.D.Gallery is a captivating universe of kinetic art where Horological Machines and Mechanical Art Devices reign supreme.
MB&F’s M.A.D.Gallery is now open in Geneva on Rue Verdaine, a stone’s throw from their offices and atelier in the heart of the city’s old town.
Inside the gallery, not only will you find the complete range of MB&F’s Horological Machines and new Legacy Machine No.1, but you’ll also have the pleasure of discovering carefully-curated pieces – or, as MB&F like to call them, Mechanical Art Devices – from around the world, each one making your heart beat that little bit faster.