In one of those moments of good fortune that don’t come along very often I found myself yesterday in the right place at the right time. The right place being the MB&F atelier in the centre of Geneva talking with Maximilian Büsser, and the right time is 2 hours after the release the first pictures of the ‘Thunderbolt’ movement to the world.
A passing comment from me asking to see the new movement was met with a more positive “Yes” than I had expected, especially given that Basel is now only a few days away. My pulse began to race in anticipation as soon as he left the room to find an example. As Max explained “when we launch the new watch people won’t necessarily be looking at the movement”, so the company decided to release the details of the movement only first so that people would truly appreciate the craftsmanship involved.
A wise move I think as it’s not too hard to imagine that the importance of the movement will be overshadowed by the unveiling of an all new piece, especially when one considers the designs of his other Horological Machines. Still, I can’t help but think what a shame that will be as I gaze at this truly mind-blowing new movement.
So you’ve seen the pictures, but what is it really like?
Well the version I saw was only a prototype, I say ‘only’ a prototype, but the finish was exemplary. If more manufacturers, who will remain nameless, finished their products as well as MB&F prototypes, well I think you can finish the sentence.
Despite have a passing resemblance to a fighter from the ‘Star Wars’ movies, it is the aesthetics of the machine that sets this apart. There is an innate balance between size, function and design that is no accident.
The use of Computer Aided Design allows modern designers free range for their thoughts, which is evident throughout the MB&F range, but at some point the real world must intrude and while pushing the boundaries of what is possible is exciting, compromises must be made. It may not be possible to make all of the parts to the defined size; one compromise may mean another, it is this balance that MB&F has historically got so right, and I am pleased to say that by all accounts they have again this time.
The machine is largely enclosed, this is no skeleton movement, the plates are chunky and have a very architectural look about them. If this was the 1960s perhaps we’d describe them as being slightly ‘brutalist’. Wheels and pivots poke out at you, and more appear as you look from different angles and turn the movement over hinting at the work going on inside.
This just leads to temptation, if only I had my screw set with me, just a quick look inside, but sadly not this time.
Unfortunately I can’t tell you about the weight, but MB&F don’t use a large amount of synthetic materials in their watches so not featherweight, but who cares? All Horological Machines are created with the express desire to make them serviceable in 100 years time which means sticking to traditional steel and brass etc.
This approach also adds to the overall feel of permanence and solidity, it also makes you want to pick it up and run it through your fingers; I decided not to, I’m not crazy, do you have any idea how much these cost?
If you are lucky enough to be going to Basel World be sure to go visit “The Dream Factory” and have a look for yourself. I promise you won’t regret it. In addition to MB&F there will be Speake-Marin, Urwerk and Christophe Claret all exhibiting in the Palace, opposite the Ramada Hotel.
The enduring thought I had after leaving the MB&F atelier was if that’s the movement, what’s the watch going to look like!!
To see all the pictures of the new Thunderbolt movement from MB&F check out our story on it here.
Category: Watch Reviews