MB&F is known for its collaborations with like-minded brands and avant-garde creators, which in the past has resulted in not just a long list of superlative horological creations (the Flying T Allegra with Bulgari; MB&F x Eddy Jaquet; LM1 Silberstein; LM 101 with H. Moser & Cie.) but also technically formidable products (the Orb and Tripod with L’Epee; Project LPX with Loupe System; Astrograph with Caran d’Ache). The latest to join this is the MB&F MusicMachine 1 Reloaded, a Reuge x MB&F collaboration.
The MB&F MusicMachine 1 Reloaded is the fourth edition of a Reuge x MB&F collaboration – the first one produced the 2013 MB&F MusicMachine 1, a music box shaped like a spaceship featuring dual propellers and twin silver cylinders mounted on a landing gear, which played six tunes (May the force be with you with the Star Wars theme, Imperial March from The Empire Strikes Back, and the theme from Star Trek, Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall, Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water and John Lennon’s Imagine). The box, designed by MB&F and executed by Reuge, played the songs via the tuned teeth on a steel comb being plucked by pins on a revolving cylinder. The design featured a walnut sound amplification chamber and measured 395mm wide x 475mm long x 165mm high. Between 2013 and 2015, three such MusicMachines were created.
Now, the next edition of this music box has been unveiled, the MB&F MusicMachine 1 Reloaded. Designed by ECAL design graduate Maximilian Maertens, the machine is an update of the 2013 version created by Chinese designer Xin Wang. Crafted in blue, red, or black anodised aluminium, like the original version each of the cylinders on MusicMachine 1 Reloaded play the same three tunes as in the MusicMachine 1. The new creation however has more ‘airflow’ using the principles of aerospace engineering, visible particularly visible in the wings, “which now look as if they are in a wind tunnel with invisible airflow around them,” says Maertens. Another change is that the body is now made of anodized aluminium, as opposed to the wood of the original MusicMachine.
The MB&F MusicMachine 1 Reloaded has two independent movements, each comprising a winding propeller; a mainspring barrel (looking like a piston under the propeller); a horizontal cylinder with pins creating three melodies; and a vertical comb with individual hand-tuned teeth sounding each note. Using these parts, the creation of music is truly a thing of beauty in this machine. The tunes are created by way of two vertical combs on either side of the vessel’s main body. Each comb contains 72 notes chosen by the Reuge musician according to the three melodies that a particular cylinder will play (one melody is one revolution of the cylinder, and is about 35 seconds long).
The combs are hand-tuned from a unique steel alloy specifically selected for its acoustics. Each tooth has just the right amount of material to accurately create each note. Where bass notes are concerned, lead is added to the tooth to increase its weight. Furthermore, tiny transparent, synthetic feathers are added behind the bass note teeth to act as dampers so that the note resonates optimally.
The teeth of the comb are ‘plucked’ by as many as 1,400 precision-placed pins that are part of the cylinders as they revolve. The pins are strategically placed on the cylinder so that the melody is elicited correctly. The pins are shaved and polished for a uniform length and affixed to the cylinder with special hot resin to maximise sound quality.
The comb is attached to a brass ‘vibration plate’ passing through the main hull, with six heat-blued screws. The vibration plate transfers the sound to the case, which in turn amplifies the sound even more. The amplification of sound also comes by way of the fuselage. Finally, the vertical circular panels on either side of the propeller-like winding levers regulate the cylinder speed, maintaining it at a constant, rather than faster or slower. The device has a power reserve of 10 minutes.
The MB&F MusicMachine 1 Reloaded, a Reuge x MB&F collaboration, is a limited edition of 33 pieces in blue, 33 pieces in red, and 33 in black.
Images: Courtesy MB&F