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MB&F MusicMachine

The innovative Swiss timepiece makers collaborate with REUGE for a first foray into music

by Evan Orensten in Design on 24 April 2013

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Marking the first kinetic machine made by MB&F that isn't a timepiece, the MusicMachine confidently brings the innovative Swiss laboratory into new territory. While the spaceship-styled MusicMachine may not tell time and can't be worn, the tabletop music box does play six beautiful and eclectic tunes. Developed in collaboration with and manufactured by Reuge—the world's premier music box maker with over 150 years of experience—the MusicMachine expands on MB&F's storied background in avant-garde horology.

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MB&F founder and creative director Max Büsser explains that the basic engineering behind music boxes is actually quite similar to that of watch making. Both rely on a series of mechanisms to manipulate another set to achieve an output, whether it be telling time or making music. The MusicMachine did force Reuge to break the rules slightly, by inverting MB&F's original design to create two mirrored movements that keep the music making combs on the outside.

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The MusicMachine's dual propellers are turned to wind up it up. The twin silver cylinders sit atop a fuselage, which extends to slender outrigger "landing gear." A press of the button near each cylinder plays a song, and each cylinder plays three tunes—the left riffs off of the player's space ship heritage and plays Star Wars’ theme “may the Force be with you," "Imperial March" from The Empire Strikes Back, and the theme from Star Trek. The right cylinder takes a less celestial approach by playing three songs central to Büsser's early years, Pink Floyd’s "Another Brick in the Wall," Deep Purple’s "Smoke on the Water" and John Lennon’s "Imagine." Pressing the button plays the next song by moving the tube just enough to hit the next set of "tracks." Each song is a full rotation on the tube, and there are three sets of adjacent teeth on each tube, each corresponding to one of the 72 keys for each tune.

Standing up to the superlative level of design MB&F is known for, each detail on the MusicMachine is both functional and elegant. The wood lacquered body stands to absorb vibrations while the aluminum legs distribute any movement away from the body to eliminate any chance of noise. Even the circular fans on each end help regulate air flow to steady the rate at which each spring unwinds, aiding in the seamless listening experience.

Announced today, 25 April 2013 at Switzerland's Baselworld watch fair, 66 MusicMachines by Reuge for MB&F will be produced (33 in black lacquer and 33 in white lacquer). For more information visit MB&F and check Hodinkee's video for an expansive explanation by Büsser himself.

Detail images by Evan Orensten, studio images courtesy of MB&F

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