“Personally, I love this watch – not many did”


April 2024

“Personally, I love this watch – not many did”

The press is full of stories of watchmaking success. So we’ve decided to ring the changes, and bring you a series devoted to failures, which are ultimately just as formative, if not more so, in an entrepreneur’s career. We begin with the testimony of Maximilian Büsser, founder of MB&F, who tells us his story of making a watch that nobody seemed to like, but which ended up having a decisive impact almost a decade later.


n 2012, I launched the HM5 ‘On The Road Again’. Inspired by 1970s supercars – the Lamborghini Miura, Lotus Esprit and Lancia Stratos – it was the first Machine based on my childhood dream of becoming a car designer. It was therefore a very important and seminal piece for me, and yet, it was a commercial flop, and probably the least “successful” piece in our history! Well before the launch, the whole thing was quite an ordeal. The HM5 features a sapphire crystal prism that reflects the horizontal hour and minute discs, displaying them vertically.

The technical development of this feature quickly became an insane challenge, to such an extent that we were almost unable to launch it in 2012. We ended up announcing the new calibre in December 2012, and it wasn’t immediately obvious that it would be a commercial disaster. The first pieces went to our die-hard followers, but once they were satisfied, hardly anyone else wanted one. That being said, there’s always a silver lining – or two, in this case.

New trends in Strom's Cruizer line

The first is that, thanks to the HM5, I would go on to design an epic automotive series, with the HMX, HM8, and 10 years later, the HM8 Mark2. And this last piece is now on multi-year waiting lists. Going back to the HM5, its radical “closed” case was of course extremely polarising, and it was generally misunderstood by our community. On the other hand, the petrolheads out there absolutely loved it.

And that leads us to the second silver lining I’ll never forget, which took place at Dubai Watch Week in 2017. I met Fabrizio Buonamassa, the head designer of Bulgari, for the first time. Not only is he an incredibly talented watch and jewellery designer, he’s also a former car designer and renowned car enthusiast. To my great surprise, when I introduced myself, his first words were: “Max, of course I know you, the HM5 is a fantastic piece!” This unexpected reaction led to our first coffee together, during which he started sketching an “HM5 by Bulgari”, saying it would be fantastic to make this collaboration come to life. The rest is history.

The HM5 Bulgari never saw the light of day, but four years later, we presented the ‘LM FlyingT Allegra MB&F x Bulgari’ together – at Dubai Watch Week 2021 – and it became one of the most talked about collaborations in our history. Would this have happened if we hadn’t met at Dubai Watch Week in 2017? We’ll never know, but the HM5 definitely helped a lot. At the end of the day, even if it did not sell, I am incredibly proud of the HM5, because personally I love it. And that in itself is the most important part of a creator’s journey.”

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