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Introducing The MB&F MusicMachine 2 Limited Edition In Gunmetal, Exclusively For HODINKEE

You know, there are a lot of people doing good things out there these days, but a few doing great things. So when we can, we strive to do our best to support the few who are truly doing things differently than the rest, often times with a goal in mind that is much larger, and more selfless than the rest. Max B├╝sser and his friends (MB&F) is one that, from the minute I began to cover timepieces with any regularity, I knew was something special. His machines are fanciful, daring, occasionally bordering on the absurd, but always exceptionally well made, and the product of unrelenting passion for, not the easiest way to do things, but for the way things should be done ?something that we at HODINKEE firmly believe in. And that is why today, we are proud to launch a limited edition partnership with MB&F for five truly incredible mechanical works of art: The Music Machine 2 "Gunmetal" made exclusively for HODINKEE.

You may remember Music Machine 1 from the video that we produced before Basel World 2013 to introduce it to the world. MB&F had teamed with up Reuge, who pioneered the mechanical music box category almost 150 years ago, to make something very special. I loved MusicMachine 1, and when Max told me he had something even more special lined up for MM2, we had to be a part of it. So what is this special, HODINKEE-only Music Machine? Well, it's arguably the most advanced, most technically impressive, and detail obsessed mechanical music box in the world, and ours, in gunmetal grey, is the most limited in production. But there is more to it than that.

The reason why we decided to partner up with MB&F on a music box of all things is because the pervading message here is that, even when something seems to be coming to a close, the story is never finished. At this point, Reuge is literally the only remaining high-end mechanical music box manufacturer in the world. Many would have thought this micro-industry would be lost to the ages, until MB&F breathed new air into it. It is a wonderful example of how the traditional, the outdated, and the unnecessary can be brought into modern relevance and appreciation via a simple twist. It is exactly what we try to do with HODINKEE, and we're celebrating it with this limited edition MusicMachine.

MusicMachine 2 Gunmetal for HODINKEE

So what is this thing? It's the most incredible piece of hand-work and human ingenuity you'll see for a long time. It is, at the core of it, a mechanical music box. It plays six songs, three on each of two cylinders: On one we have Star Wars, Star Trek, and The Empire Strikes Back. On the other, we have Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, The Rolling Stones' Angie, and the Clash's Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

But these cylinders are hand picked to include over 1,400 pins (each 1mm in length, and .3mm in diameter) on each cylinder, playing 72 distinct notes each cut from a special piece of steel alloy selected for its acoustic impact. Bass notes are created by hand-applying lead to the pins, with tiny transparent feathers acting as dampeners. Hot resin is applied to the inside of each cylinder to ensure the pins remain in place for maximum clarity as they are run against the long combs to create a clear, concise sound. All cylinders are completely assembled and finished by human hand.

This musical movement is unlike anything you've ever seen, and it even features external fans of nickel-plated brass as regulators, ensuring that each song is played at the appropriate speed even while the mainspring is fully wound. These fans spin faster to provide resistance against the cylinders when the springs are fully wound, preventing them from playing too quickly. To see these fans in motion is, well, awesome.

The entire mainplate of the movement is a gorgeous nickel-brass, and it's completely finished by hand with traditional Geneva waves. I mean, how could we not?

You can play the MusicMachine 2 with a simple push of a button. The fans will begin to spin, and all of a sudden you will hear the loudest, crispest, cleanest notes one can imagine from a mechanical device. You can even select whether you want that cylinder to repeat one song, or progress to the next. You can play one song at a time, or all three in sequence.

The most rewarding thing about the MusicMachine 2 though is the sensation you get winding up each of the two independent mainsprings by cranking two conical, grooved winding keys in the form of thrusters, all in nickel-plated brass.

But, the most interesting thing about MusicMachine 2 is that for the first time in a mechanical music box, the sound will actually be in stereo. And that the pitch and quality of the sound will not be impacted by where the machine is sitting, as with every music box up until MM2. You see, this guy has its own completely revolutionary resonance dome, made of 350-year-old Swiss spruce trees and a cutting edge honeycomb Kevlar called Nomex. But, the ridiculousness doesn't stop there.

You see this guy here? That's Lorenzo Pellegrini. He's over 80 years old and to this day, climbs up these massive Swiss spruces like a squirrel to see if the tree is straight enough to create one of these soundboards. But Lorenzo is picky ?only one out of every 10,000 trees meets his standards. No lie.

Once a tree is selected by Lorenzo, Reuge has to wait until a waning moon in November, the driest period in the Risoud Forest. These long, cold Swiss winters help create wood that is far more dense than normal, making it particularly well suited for acoustic properties. Once the wood is cut down in November, the lumber must dry for an additional five to ten years before Reuge pulls it into service.

The two wooden membranes crafted from these 350-year-old spruce trees are then placed around a Kevlar compound with a vacuum press. Through the center is a carbon fiber bar that makes the entire resonance compound more rigid. The gunmetal aluminum base keeps the MusicMachine grounded, and provides a truly innovative way to dispersing the sound from mechanical machines. But, seeing that this is the first time a music box has a separate resonance board connected to the piece, Reuge had to find a way to bring the sound making and sound playing system together.

So, what we have here is a specially made aluminum tail boom that hits the mainplate right at the center of where it produces the music, fixed with heat-blued screws (of course) and goes right into the heart of the Nomex, spruce, carbon, and aluminum resonance dome. The tail boom essentially acts as a transmitter, while the holes in the resonance dome act like a hole in a guitar or violin.

The result is the very first music box of this size that plays in stereo, hearing it simultaneously from the combs and dome, and the very first that doesn't require a special surface on which to place it in order to get optimal sound. As I said before, the story of the mechanical music box continues with MM2.

So what makes our MusicMachine 2 special? We chose to leave all aluminum pieces untreated, meaning there is no lacquer on them. The result is a gorgeous gunmetal color that softens the sci-fi nature of this piece. While the architecture is surely 21st century and beyond, the finishing of the MM2 HODINKEE Edition is quite raw, and almost traditional.

Just five of these pieces will be made in gunmetal, and they may be purchased exclusively through the HODINKEE shop for $23,500. We know how special this is, and we hope that some of you do too, so we will be offering complimentary shipping worldwide for these. Each is numbered on the engraved base plate, and take it from me, there isn't anything like this anywhere in the world.

View the MB&F MusicMachine 2 Gunmetal For HODINKEE Right Here.

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