REUGE

Established in 1865, REUGE is a world leader in the manufacture of traditionally-made luxury music boxes and mechanical singing birds. The magnificent musical movements in these music boxes are fitted with high-precision mechanics, setting to music, as it were, all the ages of history. They are mounted inside a complex sound box made of noble woods, glass or modern materials such as carbon or Corian®.

As well as the 1865, Lounge and Studio collections, the REUGE Manufacture produces limited editions dedicated to certain great composers, and also versions designed to appeal to sailing and motor enthusiasts, and even cigar lovers.

Charles Reuge‘s enthusiasm as a clock and watchmaker led him to start making watches fitted with musical movements in 1865. Fired with the same enthusiasm, his son Albert opened a music box workshop in Sainte-Croix some twenty years later. And thus a dynasty was born and was guided by Guido Reuge for more than sixty years. Intuitive, imaginative and pioneering, he built the present factory on Rue des Rasses, invented and manufactured a ski binding that enabled him to continue making music boxes, even when times were tough, and acquired several competitor companies, bringing real added-value to Reuge and guaranteeing the rapid expansion of the business.

As Guido Reuge had no direct descendants, in 1988 he decided to sell his company to a group of investors from Vaud and Geneva. They provided the company with the facilities and innovations required to increase production and improve quality. Nevertheless, craftsmanship remained the driving force behind the company’s excellence. In 2001, Reuge purchased the Italian company Arte Intarsio, its main supplier of wooden boxes, assuring Reuge complete control of the entire manufacturing process for music boxes.

Three years later, an investment fund governed by Luxembourg law, Cap Gamma SA, purchased a majority stake in Reuge and gave the company the means to ensure its long-term future. A new strategy was implemented – by a new management team – to modernise the product line and form a more selective distribution network. In line with this strategy, Reuge bought Mermod Frères SA to launch a new range of musical watches and jewellery under the Mermod Frères name. Reuge is currently the only manufacturer of large musical movements worldwide, some of which can be compared to the grandes complications in watch-making.

The philosophy of Reuge SA can be summarised in a few words: manufacturing, a tradition of quality, exclusivity, modernity and creativity. Currently still the largest employer in Sainte-Croix, Reuge SA is the only company worldwide still proficient in the delicate manufacture of large musical objects – a complete range of singing birds and musical watches with or without automation. To build on rich tradition, clearly expressed in its motto, “The Art of Mechanical Music”, while turning toward the future to lead the company toward the modernity that will secure its long-term survival, that is the path chosen by the new management team at the helm of the company.

Reuge’s challenge is ambitious: thrust the music box back into the spotlight and give it the strong and poignant image of an exclusive gift. From being a functional object – albeit one embellished by the refined decoration of the box that both protects the movement and helps to transmit the sound – the music box is becoming an object that appeals to the senses, a true mechanical musical instrument.

The products have been completely redesigned to help achieve the company’s aims. A new, more attractive musical movement has been designed for the contemporary objects in the “Lounge” and “Studio” lines that helps to give the melody a clearer sound. In addition, the distribution network will in future be very selective in the main markets for luxury products, principally Switzerland, the United States and Japan. With the dawn of the 21st century Reuge SA’s challenge is to revolutionise the image of the music box, to award it the status of a decorative object, to attract collectors using its more traditional articles housed in sublime marquetry cases made of precious wood and also to attract younger customers using more modern designs.

Music boxes
Once upon a time there was a music box… Created in 1796, it was inspired by the peal of bells. The first music boxes were produced in Sainte-Croix in 1811, bringing international renown to the small town. Production expanded rapidly with constant improvements being made to the tone of the tunes; at the same time, the creation of sumptuous wooden boxes became an art in itself.

The system of the musical movement is ingenious, with pre-tuned metal teeth driven by a cylinder fitted with pins to produce infinitely varied and accurate sounds. In 1870 a German inventor created the disc music box, which allowed for the tune to be changed more easily and frequently; however, the sound was slightly more metallic.

From 1865, Reuge developed a passion for the world of the musical movement, which today remains almost unchanged and the components of which are produced using tools designed by the company, making the Reuge factory the world’s only manufacturer of large musical movements, some of which can be compared to the grandes complications in watch-making.

Musical movements Reuge creations contain a variety of musical movements, from miniaturised movements for pocket watches through mechanical singing bird movements to larger movements for luxurious boxes made using rare varieties of wood.

  • 1. The simple movement: 17, 22 or 36 notes – plays one tune.
  • 2. The changing movement: 36, 72 or 144 notes – plays three long tunes with the cylinder moving laterally in front of the comb to play each one.
  • 3. The interchangeable movement: 50, 72 or 144 notes – has several easy to handle interchangeable cylinders that play a total of between 5 and 20 tunes.
  • 4. The cartel : 144 notes – has a winding lever to the left of the cylinder and generally plays 4 tunes per cylinder (can play up to 20 tunes).
  • 5. The disc movement, in which the cylinder is replaced by a disc: 30 notes.
  • 6. The new 21st century movement: At the dawn of the 21st century, Reuge has developed a new movement. Based on the same principles as the traditional movement, the spring-housing has been modernised and the overall aesthetics have generally been improved, whilst the tone of the tune has been made clearer, accuracy has been increased and quality made more consistent. This new movement will be fitted in the designer items in the Lounge and Studio collections, whilst the traditional version will be kept for classic items.
  • 7. The mechanical singing bird movement: Made up of 250 parts, including the genuine leather bellows, it can be compared to a grande complication in watch-making. The bird itself is a work of art, being made of 25 parts with internally mounted cams and springs. The real hummingbird feathers, which never lose their vividness, are applied by hand as part of an eight-hour process.

The Complexity of a Music Box
A musical movement is made up of a large number of parts. The main parts include:-

1. The comb, which is made of hardened steel; the teeth are cut out one by one in the comb, and then tuned to reproduce musical notes.The comb comes in different sizes depending on the number of notes, which ranges from 17 to 72. A 144- note movement is made up of two 72-note combs. A damper is placed under the teeth which produce low notes, to dampen the sound.  The hardening process requires great knowledge with regard to the time and temperature. This important aspect determines the sound quality and is what differentiates Reuge movements from the rest.

2. The cylinder: is generally made of brass or nickel-plated brass and can hold up to 5,000 steel pins 0.25 mm in diameter, held by a resin injected into the cylinder to absorb its resonances.

3. The spring-housing: contains a spring that drives the musical movement. The spring is wound with a key or, on cartel movements, a lever.

4. The regulator or speed-governor: made up of a fin known as the flywheel controls the speed at which the spring unwinds and gives the music a regular rhythm. In large movements, as in watches, there is a jewel bearing designed to reduce noise and wear.

5. The base-plate holds all of the components of the movement. It is generally made of brass.

6. The box: often a veritable work of art, acts as an amplifier so that the music is audible.

The tune
A professional arranger is given the difficult task of reducing a tune to its most characteristic part so that it can be played – and identified – in a few seconds.

The box
The best cabinetmakers in Switzerland and Italy are chosen. Loyal to their respective traditions, they create the perfect environment for Reuge’s mechanical marvels. The choice of varieties of wood (from all over the world), their seasoning and assembly, the varnish – everything is brought together to produce exceptional boxes that are true collector’s items. The base is in a way the music box’s speaker. The feet create the space necessary for the sound to resonate. The difficulty is in making a base that is thin enough to vibrate well, but still thick and strong enough not to break during transport.

The inlay work
This is done entirely by hand. Over 100 different varieties of wood can be used. After cutting, the parts are assembled on a piece of paper and then stuck onto the box. The paper is removed by sanding. The shading is produced by scorching the wood in boxes of hot sand. The Italians still use the method of drawing on the inlay to obtain more detail.

The lacquer
The lacquer used is identical to that used for traditional furniture and antiques. 3 to 4 days are required for drying between coats. The surface is then sanded and cleaned before the next layer is applied. The skills involved in music box production There is no specific training. Over time each producer has developed precision, patience and know-how to become a brilliant craftsman capable of creating enchanting works of art. It takes around two months to make a music box, during which time the stamper, polisher, hardener,welder, cutter, tuner and fixer are all involved.

Machining

  • Shaping of the brass base-plates on numerically controlled machines.
  • Stamping: Stamping of the mechanical parts that make up the movement.
  • Combs: Cutting of the combs, i.e. cutting of the teeth.
  • Hardening: the combs are heated and then plunged into oil to create a thermal shock; the correct hardness of the comb, and therefore the correct tone, is thus obtained.
  • Welding: lead is soldered underneath the teeth for the low notes.
  • Tuning: this is a computerised operation; each tooth has a frequency, and a grinding wheel files them to the correct frequency.
  • Feathering: synthetic dampers are glued underneath the teeth which produce the low notes to act as a damper (to perfect the sound). In the past, chicken feathers were used.

Cylinders

  • Drilling: the drilling machines make holes in the cylinders.
  • Pinning: the pinning machines place the pins (small steel wires) in the holes.
  • The cylinders are checked, and then resin is placed inside them to improve the tone.
  • Plugs are placed at each end of the cylinder and an axle is placed inside.

Fixing

  • The fixer assembles all of the components on the base-plate and checks the movement.

Assembly

  • The movement is fixed inside the box. The final check is carried out.

The Machines
Reuge is a genuine Manufactory, that is, all of the production tools used, to make the parts of the musical movement, were produced by the company. Although they have since been modernised, they were mostly created between 1939 and 1975.

Timeline

14th century: The history of mechanical music can be traced back to Flanders. An ingenious bell ringer designs a cylinder perforated with pins; these operate cams that in turn strike bells.

1780: The mechanical singing bird is invented by Jaquet-Droz, a clockmaker from La Chauxde- Fonds. In 1848, the manufacture of singing birds is perfected by Blaise Bontems in his Paris workshop to such a degree that current manufacture has remained unchanged. Barrel organs spread through the streets.

1796: Antoine Favre, a Geneva clockmaker, replaces the bells with pre-tuned metal teeth, which produce more varied and clearer sounds.

1811: Manufacture of the first music boxes in Sainte-Croix… An industry that will rapidly overtake clock-making and lace, giving the town international renown.

1865: Charles Reuge, a clockmaker originally from Val de Travers, appears on the scene, setting up business in Sainte-Croix with the manufacture of pocket watches with musical movements.

1870: A German inventor creates the disc music box, making it easier to change the tune played by the box more frequently.

1877: Invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison. The impact of this will be felt strongly towards the end of the century, destabilising the music box industry.

1886: Albert Reuge, son of Charles, opens a small music box factory in Sainte-Croix. This marks the transition from a workshop to a real business.

1929: Guido, Albert and Henri, the third generation of the Reuge dynasty, invent the Kandahar ski binding, allowing the business to survive economic crisis and war.

1930: Construction of the current Reuge factory on rue des Rasses, Sainte-Croix.

1950: Arrival in force of the Japanese on the music box market representing the greatest challenge to the Swiss makers since the invention of phonograph.

1953: Manufacture of movements that can change between several melodies.

1960: Acquisition and manufacture of the first machines by Reuge making it possible to rationalise work. Reuge becomes the world leader in high-quality musical movements. Reuge buys Bontems, in Paris, and takes over the manufacture and marketing of mechanical singing birds.

1977-1991: Reuge buys out the following competitors:-

  • Eschle, manufacturers of snuff boxes and singing birds (1977)
  • Mélodies SA, manufacturers of Thorens disc boxes (1985)
  • Lador, manufacturers of 18-note movements (1986)
  • Cuendet, manufacturers of cuckoo movements (1991).At this time, Reuge is positioned as the only manufacturer of singing birds worldwide.

1988: Reuge SA is bought out by a group of Swiss investors; development and implementation of a business modernisation programme. Manufacture of large high-quality pieces resumes.

1993: Takeover of a distribution and assembly company in Los Angeles and creation of Reuge Music USA Ltd.

2000: Increase in turnover.

2001: Reuge purchases the Italian company Arte Intarsio, its main supplier of wooden boxes, and so now controls the complete manufacture of music boxes.

2001-2003: Reuge suffers a serious economic downturn forcing the business to undergo re-organisation.

2004: Reuge is bought out by a Luxembourg-based investment fund, Cap Gamma SA. Creation of a new company image through the modernisation of its logo and its transactions. Top-of-the-range position of the company, production of small 18-note movement models ends. Design of new and highly modern product lines. Overhaul of its distribution network.

2006: Kurt Kupper is appointed chief executive officer of Reuge SA.

2007: Reuge purchases Mermod Frères SA, a company in Sainte-Croix and formerly a renowned maker of music boxes and timepieces, to relaunch the brand with a new line of musical watches and jewellery.

Official website: http://www.reuge.com

MB&F MusicMachine3 – In association with REUGE

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.

Technical Specifications

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

Melodies
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

L’Epée Duet – Mechanical Musical Clock created in association with Reuge

Switzerland based mechanical clock maker L’Epée and Reuge, the masters of mechanical music boxes have a true experience in mastering their own art. Now both brands join together to make  an  astounding  new masterpiece clock featuring a music box that the owner is able to enjoy every hour or on demand only .

The Duet timepiece presents a Swiss Made 40-day mechanical movement with a 72 notes music box.

Delémont based L’Epée  and Ste Croix  based Reuge are respectively the creator of clocks with undeniable know-how in the development of prestigious mechanical movements and the master of bespoke music boxes with unique know-how in the development of unsurpassed mechanical music.

The Musical Clock
This true accomplishment goes back to the origins of both companies. An inspired collaboration of commune musical work has been carried out with this exceptional “Duet” musical clock. The hour-strike complication has been upgraded with a mechanical musical movement. These melodies are now available in either the classic or soul family. World famous 12 tunes can be heard for 8 seconds on each hour or on demand.

The Mechanical movement
The caliber 2012, an adaptation of the known caliber 2010, has a strong personality with a 40 -day power reserve animated by five barrels.  The mechanical movement is paired to the amazing musical movement from Reuge.

The Music Box
A specific melody is played for 8 seconds on each new hour. The musical movement has autonomy of 40 days provided the playing is for a period of 12 hours / day. Two repertoires are presently available with either classical or soul music.

Technical details

References
50.6556/101 Duet Classic
50.6556/201 Duet Soul

Movement
Mechanical Mvt: Caliber 2012. Mechanic 40-Day, Swiss Made
Escapement:   Vertical. Visible from the front glass
Functions: Hours, Minutes, Power Reserve Indicator, Strike and Music Box
Strike: Melody. Every Hour. Play on demand
Music Box: Reuge.12.72. Nickel plated mechanical musical movement
Power reserve of 40 days if played 12 hours/day

Functions
12 melodies/ of 8 seconds each, every hour on the hour
2 different references for classic or soul tunes
Switch for On / Off / Permanent melodies

Cabinet
Brass, Palladium-coated
Glasses:  Mineral glass
Winding: One single design key for the mechanical movement and the music box
Special compartment for the key on the back of the base
Dimensions:   265 x 370 x 105 mm

DUET CLASSIC – Reference no. 50.6556/101
1. Canon – J. Pachelbel
2. The four seasons (Spring) – A. Vivaldi
3. The Magic Flute – W.A. Mozart
4. Polonaise Op.40 ‘Militär ‘- F. Chopin
5. La Traviata – G. Verdi
6. The Blue Danube – J. Strauss
7. Hungarian Dance No.5 – J. Brahms
8. Solveig’s Song (Peer Gynt – Suite 2) – E. Grieg
9. Waltz of the flowers – P.I. Tchaikovsky
10. Suite burlesque dolente – G.Tailleferre
11. Waltz No.1 (Jazz-Suite 2) – D. Chostakovitch
12. Edelweiss – R. Rodgers

DUET SOUL – Reference no. 50.6556/201
1. What a wonderful world – L. Armstrong
2. Summertime – G. Gershwin
3. Georgia on my mind – R. Charles
4. Ain’t no sunshine – Bill Withers
5. Killing me softly with his song –  Roberta Flack
6. No woman no cry- Bob Marley
7. Here comes the Sun – Nina Simone
8. I Feel Good – James Brown
9. Bridge over troubled water – Aretha franklin
10. Superstition – Stevie Wonder
11. Your Song – Billy Paul
12. Let The Music Play – Barry White

MB&F REUGE MusicMachine Limited Edition (High End Mechanical Music Box Developed in Association with REUGE)

The award winning Swiss luxury watch brand MB&F, in association with premium mechanical music box brand REUGE, has developed MusicMachine:  a high-end mechanical music box, but designed and configured in a totally unconventional way. Based in Switzerland, REUGE is a premier manufacturer of exclusive mechanical music boxes on the planet, with nearly 150 years of expertise and experience. And MB&F, the award-winning artistic and micro-engineering laboratory acclaimed for its avant-garde, three-dimensional Horological Machines.

With its dual propellers and twin silver cylinders mounted on sleek outrigger landing gear, MusicMachine looks like a futuristic spaceship. Each of the cylinders on MusicMachine plays three tunes, all personally selected by MB&F founder and creative director, Maximilian Büsser. On the left, “may the Force be with you” with the ‘Star Wars’ theme, ‘Imperial March’ from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, and the theme from ‘Star Trek’. Back on earth, the right cylinder plays Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’ and ’John Lennon’sImagine’ – all tunes synonymous with MB&F’s radical, nonconformist attitude.

One of the biggest challenges for REUGE was respecting the mechanical symmetry of MB&F’s design, and it meant breaking with a few music box conventions to achieve it. MusicMachine actually has two independent movements, each comprising: winding propeller; mainspring barrel (looking like a piston under the propeller); horizontal cylinder with pins creating three melodies; and vertical comb with individual hand-tuned teeth sounding each note. When music is playing, the speed that the cylinder unwinds at is governed by an air regulator in the form of a circular fan outside each propeller-topped, piston-shaped mainspring barrel.

While it would have been much easier to duplicate the two movements and just change the melodies, MB&F’s original concept called for perfect symmetry and if the movements were identical, the comb on one cylinder would not be on the outside. So REUGE took the unprecedented step of configuring the two movements as mirror images of one another, which meant completely inverting the design of the movement components and architecture.

MusicMachine is a limited edition of 66 pieces: 33 pieces in white and 33 pieces in black.

Mechanical Music boxes produce melodies by way of tuned teeth on a steel comb being plucked by pins on a revolving cylinder. Music box movements share many similarities with their horological counterparts, both technically and aesthetically: Energy derived from a coiled spring is transferred by a gear train and the unwinding speed is carefully regulated. High-end music box components are even finely finished similar to high-end watch movements.

No wonder, then, that since music boxes first appeared in the early 19th century, Switzerland, the home of fine watchmaking, became the hub of high-quality music box production. In 1865, Charles Reuge was a pioneer of the genre when he set up his first musical pocket-watch shop in Sainte-Croix, Switzerland. Nearly 150 years on, and REUGE is the premier manufacturer of high-end music boxes on the planet and is still based in Sainte-Croix.

While REUGE’s collection has since grown to offer both quintessentially classical pieces and contemporary designs – including a service for specially-commissioned bespoke pieces – with MusicMachine, REUGE has pushed the frontiers of music box design.

REUGE created MusicMachine based on a futuristic spaceship design proposed by MB&F whose founder, Maximilian Büsser, is a keen fan of all the great sci-fi film and TV series. In collaboration with ECAL design graduate Xin Wang, MB&F developed a concept that cleverly incorporated all the essential music box features – musically-tuned combs, pinned cylinders, winding mechanisms, mainspring barrels, regulators and acoustically-optimised case – while still managing to make it look like a streamlined, hypersonic spaceship.

The melodies
MusicMachine doesn’t just look like something from a science fiction film; three of the melodies have been beamed directly from sci-fi classics.

On the left cylinder, MusicMachine is armed with the theme from ‘Star Trek’ by Jerry Goldsmith, the theme from ‘Star Wars’ by John Williams and ‘Imperial March’ from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, also by cinematic music maestro John Williams. While the first two are stirring anthems evoking heroism and adventure, the latter will have you battening down the hatches and raising the shields as it signals the imminent arrival of the villainous Darth Vader.

But MB&F is much more than sci-fi, their creations are edgy and iconoclastic – certainly relative to the rest of the high-end watch world – and this rock ‘n’ roll attitude is neatly conjured in the three melodies contained on the right cylinder: John Lennon’s classic anti-war anthem ‘Imagine’, Deep Purple’s riff-tastic ‘Smoke on the Water’ and Pink Floyd’s memorable social commentary tune ‘Another Brick in the Wall’.

Once MB&F had confirmed the melodies, it was over to REUGE to create them mechanically, a challenge that REUGE took in its stride. Firstly, a REUGE musician examined the pieces of music and identified the most recognisable passages from each. The musician then set about recreating these passages for the music box, keeping in mind that one cylinder would contain the three rock melodies, and the other cylinder would have the three sci-fi inspired melodies, and that each cylinder’s pins would pluck one 72-note comb.

Working out these two groups of three arrangements, each one limited to between 25 and 45 seconds, and the multitude of notes that these entail (some notes are used by all three melodies; some notes are exclusive to just one melody) represents a considerable technical and artistic achievement in which the musician’s brain, sense of expression and emotional dexterity top any computer.

The combs
The two vertical combs look like air- vent grills on either side of the vessel’s main body. Each comb contains the bespoke selection of 72 notes chosen by the REUGE musician in accordance with the three melodies that cylinder will play. Each comb forms a unique pair with its corresponding cylinder; neither can play properly without the other.

The combs are hand-tuned from a unique steel alloy specifically selected for its acoustic impact. For bass notes, the weight of the tooth is extended at the back by the traditional method of adding lead. A machine then tests the frequency of each tooth and minute amounts of material are removed to accurately tune each note. The hand-operated tools that REUGE uses in this process have all been developed in-house.

Tiny transparent, synthetic feathers are added behind the bass note teeth, acting as dampers so that the note resonates optimally. The comb is finally 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. Once the comb is fitted, the musician’s ear is required again for the final fine-tune.

The cylinders
The beautifully hand-finished cylinders gleam like a pair of imposing reactors atop MusicMachine’s main hull. The cylinders essentially contain ‘the scores’ of the melodies, with as many as 1,400 precision-placed pins that pluck the teeth of the comb as the cylinder revolves. The REUGE musician determines precisely where to place every single pin. The pins are shaved then polished to ensure uniformity of length. Finally a special hot resin is applied inside the cylinder, which, when hardened, rigidly fixes the pins to maximise sound quality.

Once one melody is played, the cylinder moves slightly along its long axis, and this change of position aligns the right pins with the right teeth to play the next melody. Each melody lasts approximately 35 seconds and corresponds to one complete revolution of the cylinder. The cylinders are linked via visible gear trains to MusicMachine’s rear engine-room.

Fan regulators
Either side of the propeller-like winding levers, are distinctive vertical circular panels. While these look as though they may be radar dishes to navigate an asteroid field or force field generating devices to repel enemy proton torpedoes, they are actually the cylinder speed regulators. When fully wound, the main springs tend to turn the cylinders faster than when nearly unwound. To compensate, these circular fan air regulators provide exponentially more resistance when rotating faster than slower, allowing for a constant revolution (a similar system is found in many minute repeater watches).

Fuselage, struts, landing pods and landing platform
Crafted in white or black lacquered walnut, MusicMachine’s sleek fuselage amplifies sound transmitted from the brass vibration plate centrally housed within the case. This plate also conducts the vibrations along the curved, lateral struts and outrigger-style landing pods – in bead-blasted, anodised aluminium (black matte-anodised for the black version) – which in turn carry the vibrations down to MusicMachine’s landing platform. This lacquered timber platform not only further amplifies the enchanting melodies, but also showcases the spacecraft’s aesthetic beauty.

Technical details
MusicMachine is a limited edition of 66 pieces: 33 pieces in white and 33 pieces in black.

Case and frame
Main body: Walnut sound amplification chamber; white or black piano lacquered (white lacquer UV resistant)
Outriggers: Bead-blasted and anodised aluminium; black matte-anodised for black version
Dimensions: 395mm wide x 475mm long x 165mm high; total weight: 2.97kg
Acoustically-enhancing platform: white or black lacquered

Movement and finishing
MusicMachine 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)
Mainplate: nickel-plated brass, decorated with Côtes de Genève. The mainplate holds both movements; each movement includes a mainspring, cylinder, comb and regulator
Mainsprings:  Wound via propellers
Barrels: Stainless steel; each with 6 heat-blued screws on top; grooved ‘piston’ sides Regulator: fan in stainless steel
Cylinders: brass
Start/stop and continue functions
Cylinder supports: Nickel-plated brass
One melody = one revolution of the cylinder
Three melodies per cylinder
Length of each melody: 35 seconds
Power reserve per cylinder: 15 minutes
Pins hand-applied and hand-polished
Length of pins: 1mm; diameter of pins: 0.3mm
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 brass vibration plate by six heat-blued steel screws

Melodies
Right cylinder – extracts from:
‘Another Brick in the Wall’ (1979) by Roger Waters and originally performed by Pink Floyd
‘Smoke on the Water’ (1973)
written and originally performed by Deep Purple
‘Imagine’ (1971)
written and originally performed by John Lennon

Left cylinder – extracts from:
‘Star Wars’ (1977) main title by John Williams
‘Imperial March’ (1980)
by John Williams
‘Star Trek’ (1979)
main title by Jerry Goldsmith