In almost every respect, the traditional mechanical music box is about nostalgia. There’s not much in the way of high-fidelity available to this ancient form of music making; a rotating cylinder studded with pins, each of triggered is triggered in sequence by the tines on a bespoke comb, each tuned to trigger a particular note.
While there’s still a market in antique and novelty boxes, high-end bespoke units are pretty hard to find. Unless, that is, you’re the cult Swiss horologers MB&F. Founded by Maximilian Büsser in 2005, MB&F specialises in the offbeat, building bespoke timepieces, watches, and talking pieces that blend retro-futurism with steampunk, sci-fi, and highly over the top details and forms.
The MusicMachine 1 is a case in point. First introduced in 2013, this desktop music box blends the traditional mechanism derived above in an aerodynamic-style sculptural case.
There’s a bit of the Star Wars podracer, a dash of Supermarine S.6B seaplane, and a whole lot of wild speculation in the MusicMachine 1’s form, made from wood, brass and aluminium and weighing around 3kg. Styled by the Chinese designer Xin Wang, it was built in partnership with Reuge, a Swiss specialist with over 155 years’ experience of building traditional-style music boxes.
Now the company has launched the MusicMachine 1 Reloaded, a limited edition of 99 examples (33 each of red, blue, and black). Equipped with twin cylinders, it offers a sci-fi/AOR playlist aimed straight at the heart of the target market. ‘Tracks’ include John Williams’ Star Wars ‘Imperial March’, Alexander Courage’s evocative Star Trek theme, paired with a trio of melodic rock titans, Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, ‘Smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple, and ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ by Pink Floyd.
Wang’s design has been updated by the German designer Maximilian Maertens, ditching the wood for anodized aluminium bodywork. The end result is certainly a curiosity, something that can’t lay claim to any form of audio excellence, despite the meticulous craft on display. Nevertheless, the MusicMachine 1 Reloaded will certainly invite comment.
MusicMachine 1 Reloaded, from CHF 18,500 at MBandF.com.
This article is part of The T3 Edit, a collaboration between T3 and Wallpaper* which explores the very best blends of design, craft, and technology. Wallpaper* magazine is the world’s leading authority on contemporary design and The T3 Edit is your essential guide to what’s new and what’s next.