Design

This company makes $100,000 clocks that look like spiders and spaceships

This high-end watchmaking company doesn’t make watches. Their thing is to create jaw-dropping mechanical sculptures that just happen to tell the time.

Maximilian Büsser and Friends (MB&F) is a Geneva-based watchmaking company founded by Maximilian Büsser in 2005.

Büsser previously spent seven years working at luxury jeweler ‘Harry Winston Rare Timepieces’. In that short time-span, he managed to increase their revenue from US$8 million (AUS$10.2 million) to $80 million (AUS$102 million).

His success was in part due to Opus, a line of highly intricate mechanical watches he pushed during his tenure, made in collaboration with smaller independent watchmakers with designs based on his own unorthodox concepts.

Encouraged by his achievements at Harry Winston Inc., Büsser decided to reject a new contract with the company and launch his own entrepreneurship to continue developing his crazy ideas.

He calls his products as ‘Horological Machines’, Horology meaning ‘the study of time’ in Latin. These are little contraptions that seem out of a steampunk world. Some of Büsser’s designs include music boxes that play Pink Floyd tunes, table clocks that look like metallic beasts, and intricate machines that are part owl, part spaceship.

His creations are as outrageous as they are beautiful; stainless-steel, kinetic-sculptures inspired by the best of science fiction and built by the finest watchmakers in the world. Things like the outrageous Octopod, an eight-legged monster inspired in James Cameron’s The Abyss fall into a gray area of technological wonder and performance art.

All of Büsser’s pieces are limited editions of just a few hundred units, with prices that go from US$30k (AUS$38k) to US$230k (AUS$293k).

Despite retailers deeming his product as “unsellable” at first, this unique business has become a thriving endeavour, with $16 million reported in revenue in 2014. Büsser says that at this point, “Our biggest risk now is not to shock.”