M.A.D. Editions M.A.D.1 Red

From the man who gave us the Harry Winston Opus and everything that the MB&F brand has come to represent, comes the M.A.D. Editions M.A.D.1 series.  Initially released as a “family and friends” timepiece in June 2021, Max Büsser’s passion project has since spawned an entire commercial product line.  There is a red version, a green version, a green “lucky” version and a recently-concluded multi-coloured limited edition collaboration with acclaimed fashion designer and artist Jean-Charles de Castelbajac.  Let’s find out just what the fuss is all about.

Photography by Ronald Chew

by Terence Tee

  • May 6, 2024
WhatsApp Image 2024 04 25 at 13.31.15 fae488ec

How.Do.I.Get.One.

There are two ways of getting a M.A.D.1.  You could buy an MB&F, become a Tribe member, and be able to purchase any M.A.D.1 (except possibly the limited production collaboration version).  The other way is to enter a M.A.D. Editions raffle event.  The mechanics of a M.A.D. raffle deserves at least a couple of lines.  It is possibly overly engineered, just like its watches.  Büsser himself made at least 4 videos to painstakingly explain how fair and open the raffles are.  You won’t find any other small and lean teams devoting time and effort in deleting duplicate email addresses in the entrant pool, or even getting bailiffs in to witness the draws.  Did they have to do all of this?  Absolutely not.  Did they do it still?  Absolutely.  I think that sort of effort to make the watch accessible struck a chord among collectors.  During the two weeks in March-April 2022 when the initial raffle for the M.A.D.1 Red was open, there were more than 20,000 registrations.  And if you have entered the first 3 raffles (2 for the Red and 1 for the Green) with nothing to show for your efforts, M.A.D. Editions would have sent you an email to offer the chance to purchase a special “Lucky Clover” version of the M.A.D.1 Green.  Watch brands would do well to take notes.

The.Anatomy.Of.A.Mad.Creation.

Off the spec sheet, you are paying the equivalent of USD3,000 for a Miyota powered timepiece with no date complication and no water resistance rating.  And off of that, some might say that is a poor bargain, even in the world of USD30,000 Vaucher-powered three-hander steel sports watches.  But there is more to the M.A.D.1 than its spec sheet might suggest.  In order to get a Max Büsser creation down to an affordable price point, M.A.D. Editions had to be creative.  Enter the Miyota 821A automatic movement.   In its stock form, it is a 21-jewel workhorse with a 45-hour power reserve (and some quirks).  One of the reasons the 821A was chosen is because this movement has a unidirectional winding system, which makes the M.A.D.1’s party trick possible – but more on that in a bit.

When the 821As arrive at the M.A.D. Editions workshop in Geneva, the same watchmakers who make Legacy and Horological Machines disassemble and rework the movements.  Given the extent of the rework, we are not sure if it is accurate to still regard the end product as a Miyota.  Out of necessity, the case itself is a sapphire box with a band of steel enveloping the top quarter of the housing to allow for the crown to be secured.  Two rotating cylinders for time display are added to the movement, which makes a two-tier (hours on top, minutes at the bottom) display ring arrangement underneath the metal band possible.  The movement is mounted upside down to allow for a triple-blade rotor to reside where a dial would have on a normal watch.  This triple-blade rotor – made of titanium and tungsten- works much like the battle-axe rotor – made of money – found on, say for example, the MB&F HM3 Megawind.  The donor movement’s unidirectional winding system allows for the rotor to be free-spinning. With all the extensive retooling, the watch makers somehow still found time to increase the power reserve to 60hours.

There is lume applied on the rotor itself, as well as the numerals on both the hour and minute display rings.  When you flip the watch over, you will see a metal bracing serving as a way to secure the straps.  A little lumed pointer also sprouts of the bracing at the 6 o’clock position, jutting out to about mid-way on the minute display ring.  Taking a leaf out of another Max Büsser creation – the MB&F HM7 – time telling is centered around this little indicator.

On.The.Wrist.

Right, the party trick.  With practice – and all owners will be practising a lot when they first get their M.A.D1s – one should be able to send the rotor spinning at dizzying speeds with a mere flick of the wrist.  And yes, you will be able to feel the sensation of the case wobbling in motion.  It may sound a little childish, but the trick is worth spending time to perfect.

In terms of ergonomics, the M.A.D.1’s sapphire case is dauntingly tall (at a mere 18.8mm…), but light.  Which usually is a good combination of qualities,  but all the same, owners should be wary of tables, swinging doors, door knobs and drawers by now.  All M.A.D.1s are supplied with black calfskin straps in rallye styling, with the difference in the stitching colours corresponding to the colour of the watches themselves.  The straps, along with the stainless steel deployant buckle, make the M.A.D.1 easy to wear all day with no fatigue.

Bottom.Line.

Well then, is the M.A.D. 1 Red any good at all?  The answer really depends on how you look at watches.  If you think all watches should at the very least fulfil the timekeeping functionality, then the M.A.D. 1 Red would not pass muster.  It is terrible at timekeeping.  You have to sort of guess your way through the time display.  The narrow viewing angle coupled with a time display that demands focus means that it is hard to categorise this as a driver’s watch.

However, if you, like the TBC staffers, think there is plenty of philosophical room for watches to be just art, then you will be able to comprehend Büsser’s mad genius.  While pitched at arguably affordable price points, any of the M.A.D. 1s would dovetail with the Legacy Machines and Horological Machines.  We say this because the M.A.D. 1, just like its MB&F cousins, is a physical function of art.  And this watch is art made for those of us who don’t have a chalet in the south of France.

Why else would M.A.D. stand for Mechanical Art Devices?

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very, very
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world

Specifications

BrandM.A.D. Editions
ModelM.A.D. 1 Red
Reference
Case MaterialStainless steel and sapphire glass
Case Diameter42mm
Case Height18.8mm (insert shocked Pikachu meme)
Lug-to-Lug24mm
Lug Width24mm (26mm curved springbar )
MovementSignificantly modified Miyota 821A
ProductionEnded
WearsTrue to size

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