Swiss luxury watch manufacturer laboratory marks a decade since its first MB&F M.A.D.Gallery has opened its doors to art and watch collectors on Geneva’s Rue Verdaine in 2011, in the heart of the city’s Old Town.
This unique concept that pairs art with with watches led to global expansion of further M.A.D.Gallery that opened in Taipei in 2014, a third one in Dubai in January 2016, and a fourth one in Hong Kong in October 2018.
The M.A.D.Gallery in Dubai and MB&F shop-in-shop in Bangkok are the first locations to be fitted with the new architectural identity. The other galleries and several new shop-in-shops will follow suit in 2022 and 2023.
The M.A.D.Gallery in Dubai.
MB&F proposes a new hybrid retail presence called “MB&F Labs”.
MB&F created the M.A.D.Gallery concept in 2011 in Geneva, in order to situate their Horological and Legacy Machines in an appropriate context (“M.A.D.” stands for Mechanical Art Devices). In addition to the M.A.D.Galleries, MB&F has defined a new hybrid retail presence called “MB&F Labs”. These will combine MB&F machines with a limited number of art pieces, in spaces not quite large enough to host a full-fledged M.A.D.Gallery. The first MB&F Labs will open in 2022 in Beverly Hills and Singapore.
Max Büsser explains the concept behind the gallery and the common thread running through the various pieces presented: “We saw the M.A.D.Gallery as the perfect platform to showcase our own Machines as well as other pieces of mechanical and kinetic art by other creators whom we greatly admire. At MB&F we create Machines that happen to tell the time, not to tell the time. They are unique examples of mechanical horology but, more than that, they are pieces of three-dimensional kinetic art. The same goes for all the creators featured in the gallery: their craft transcends a practical purpose and their creations assume the status of artworks. Thanks to the M.A.D.Gallery, we are meeting like-minded artists operating in parallel worlds; people who think like us and share our passion for creating mechanical art.”
The galleries present the range of MB&F’s Horological and Legacy Machines, but also the brand’s Co-creations such as the table clocks crafted with L’Epée 1839 or the music boxes created with Reuge – along with carefully-curated art pieces by various artists from around the world.
Art, architecture, interior design and ... watches
The third key element of the new design is the furniture, which Max Büsser explains as “something I would like to have in my own home”. The result is an homage to the quality and know-how of furniture craftsmen of the 50s and 60s. The main piece is a large table that has been modified by skilled carpenters so that it can display watches in recessed showcases embedded in the wooden surface. This watch display will take pride of place in the centre of the space and welcome the visitor to sit at the table and take the time of a conversation. Original mid-century chairs and a sofa convey a sense of quality and elegance, both around the table and in separate lounge and bar areas.
In collaboration with Voltige Design & Architecture, a highly experienced team with offices in Geneva and Lausanne, MB&F has redefined the interior design and architectural identity for its M.A.D Galleries – starting with the largest of its galleries, located in the famous Dubai Mall. The fresh identity is also applied to the growing number of MB&F shop-in-shops at the brand’s retail partners around the world – like the MB&F corner at PMT-The Hour Glass in Bangkok – and to a new retail format dubbed “MB&F Lab”.
Voltige founders Tyl Vergriete and Vincent Groetzinger started with a focal detail that would be a visual marker for each space. “We came up with the idea of a central element, a sort of giant lens that would turn the world upside down with its reflections that move as you walk past,” explains Tyl Vergriete. “It stands alone, but does not steal the attention from the other creations in the space.”
Manufacturing the lens was an incredibly challenging process, carried out by a French ceramics company that has been in operation for over 170 years. Tyl continues: “Working with different artisans was also an important part of the project as MB&F wanted this element of craftsmanship to be present throughout, just like it is with their watches.”