In 2015, MB&F, the Swiss horological concept laboratory renowned for Horological Machines and Legacy Machines, celebrates its 10th anniversary and its founder, Maximilian Büsser, who loves sci-fi machines and movies of 1970s, marks this important milestone in his career by introducing MusicMachine3 (MM3), inspired from the popular Star Wars movie series.
While MusicMachine3 may look as though it is more at home darting around in the silent vacuum of space, it is in the sound-propagating, air-rich atmosphere of Earth in which MM3 really displays its mettle. Those lattice-like vertical wings support and protect the dual music cylinders, each playing three melodies: the theme tunes from Star Wars, Mission Impossible, and James Bondon the right and The Godfather, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, and The Persuaders on the left. Those side wings also play a vital role in propagating sound vibrations down from the combs to the naturally amplifying resonant base, manufactured by JMC Lutherie.
MM3 may appear to come from a galaxy far, far away in the future; however, its origins are much older and much closer to home. MusicMachine3 features all of the traditional elements of a beautifully arranged, high-end mechanical music box. This should come as no surprise as it was developed and crafted according to MB&F’s design by Reuge, the Swiss music box manufacturer with 150 years of expertise and experience.
The music in MusicMachine3 is powered by two independent movements mounted on the two tail sections. Each movement has its own winding key (disguised as thrusters), a mainspring barrel, horizontal cylinder with pins, and comb with hand-tuned teeth sounding each note. The cylinders play three melodies each. An air regulator in the form of a circular fan (resembling a rotating radar dish) governs the unwinding speed/music tempo of each cylinder.
To ensure the lateral symmetry of MM3, Reuge broke with music box convention to configure the two movements as mirror images of one another. This required a complete inversion of the design of the movement components and the movement architecture so that one cylinder rotates clockwise and the other anticlockwise.
MM3 is carefully designed to transmit the musical vibrations from the combs down through the two vertical side wings to its resonance base. This natural timber amplifier was developed by Jeanmichel Capt of JMC Lutherie, based in the Vallée de Joux.
MusicMachine3 is a limited edition of 99 pieces: 33 pieces with white finish; 33 pieces with black finish; and 33 pieces with ‘chrome’ finish.
Dimensions and weight
Dimensions (with soundboard base): 400 mm long x 340 mm wide x 280 mm high
Total weight: Approximately 6 kg
Main Hull – Resonance base
Main body: aluminium with lacquer finish
Matte sections: protective varnishing
Gloss sections: White UV-resistant lacquer; black lacquer or ‘chrome’ anodised finish depending on version
Resonant amplifying base by JMC Lutherie:350-year-old resonance spruce with 21st century composite materials like NomexTM honeycomb Kevlar.
Tail Section – Movement and Finishing
MusicMachine3 features two 3.72 movements (3 refers to number of melodies on each cylinder; 72 refers to number of notes on each comb); one movement is ‘right’ configured; one movement is ‘left’ configured (they rotate in opposite directions)
Main plate: polished brass decorated with Geneva waves. The main plate holds both movements; each movement includes a mainspring, cylinder, comb, and regulator
Mainsprings: wound via conical, grooved winding keys in the form of thrusters, in nickel-plated brass
Barrels: satin stainless steel
Regulator fans: nickel-plated brass
Cylinders: nickel-plated brass
Start/stop and repeat/continue functions
1 melody = 1 revolution of the cylinder
3 melodies per cylinder
Length of each melody: 35 seconds
Power reserve per cylinder: 15 minutes
Pins hand-applied and hand-polished
Length of pins: 1 mm; diameter of pins: 0.3 mm
Pins per right cylinder: 1,279; pins per left cylinder: 1,399
Combs: steel alloy and lead; 72 teeth per comb; each comb attached to nickel-plated brass vibration plate
Winding keys: nickel-plated brass
Right cylinder – extracts from: ‘Star Wars’ (1977) by John Williams; ‘Mission Impossible’ (1960) by T Lalo Schifrin; ‘James Bond’ (1962) by Monty Norman
Left cylinder – extracts from: ‘The Godfather’ (1972) theme by Nino Rota; ‘Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence’ (1983) by Ryuichi Sakamoto; ‘The Persuaders’ (1971) main title by John Barry