A Week On The Wrist: The M.A.D.1 RED Turns Horology On Its Head

, A Week On The Wrist: The M.A.D.1 RED Turns Horology On Its Head

We’ve talked a lot about MB&F founder Max Büsser in the past couple of weeks. Sarah Miller profiled him. Logan Baker introduced his brand-new chronograph. And here I am with a video on his M.A.D.1 RED, a watch in a league of its own. It looks like nothing else (except, of course, its predecessor, the M.A.D.1 – which was the same thing, but in blue), its distribution and pricing model is new, and it’s the first time a watch like this has ever been made available to the public. Some folks will love it; others will find it hideous and ridiculous. I think that’s exactly how Büsser wants it. He wants a watch that challenges the status quo. This is it.

Cole Pennington looks at the M.A.D.1 Red on his wrist

So what exactly is the deal with the M.A.D.1 Red? To get an overview, start with this Introducing post. And then, you know, watch the video embedded in this story. That’s where you’ll find all the tech specs and opinions. Here, I’ll highlight some ideas that didn’t make it into the vid.

crazy watch

So Who’s This Watch For?

As a rule, I like tried and true design. I like Porsche’s approach to the 911: Iterate slowly and with purpose. That’s not at all what the M.A.D.1 Red is about, and yet I’m very drawn to it. Give it a chance and you might be, too. 

If you appreciate, say, tegimented steel from Sinn, then it’s easy to get on-board with the metallurgy behind the Red’s titanium-tungsten rotor. If you’re into microbrands then you’re already familiar with the Miyota 821A movement tucked inside. If you’re familiar with watches at large, then you’ve probably at least heard of MB&F. In short, it’s a starter watch for people who aren’t  usually into avant-garde horology. The fair pricing (CHF 2,900) helps, and anyone can get behind the M.A.D. Edition’s rebellious ethos. This watch lets you play in a club you were never going to get into before.

And then, of course, hardcore collectors (especially collectors of independent marques) will love it simply because it’s from Max.

, A Week On The Wrist: The M.A.D.1 RED Turns Horology On Its Head
, A Week On The Wrist: The M.A.D.1 RED Turns Horology On Its Head

You mention fair pricing, and yet I’m seeing this watch for ridiculous prices on the secondary market already. What gives?

The enter-to-buy distribution model isn’t the best, but it’s the best we have. And it represents a commitment to fairness that I respect most from Max and his crew. What other watch company keeps a record of folks who personally email them to inquire about a product, and then turns around and makes them a priority when the product in question becomes available? A real waitlist that really works? Amazing! 

sweet jacket and cool watch

Here’s how it worked: 600 to 700 people emailed Max since the original M.A.D.1 came out. Those people got first crack at the watch. Between 500 and 600 confirmed the purchase. Then the rest of the watches, about 500 examples, were dedicated to the raffle. Roughly 35,000 people signed up; after the list was cleared of duplicates and bots, it ended up being about 24,000 people. That means that the odds of getting selected in the raffle were about 1 in 48. Not amazing.

Forty-seven out of 48 people did not get an offer to purchase a M.A.D.1 Red. That’s a bummer, but consider the way every other brand treats its customers in a traditional AD model and you’ll see why Max’s system is perhaps the most fair system that we’ve seen yet. It rewards loyalty. It also lets at least some new collectors into the fold.

Crazy watch spinning

There are so many more people in the watch hobby now than there were just a few short years ago, and they all want watches. Manufacturers simply can’t produce astronomical quantities to keep up with demand, so developing a system like this is crucial, and M.A.D. Editions is more active in solving the problem than many other brands in the space.

One thing I know about Max is that he’s a man of his word. He says that there will be more opportunities in the future for folks who didn’t get lucky this time around, and I wholeheartedly believe him. 

Is it really just a less expensive way to own what is essentially an MB&F?

Yes and no. I’ve worn a few MB&F pieces for minutes at a time, often at trade shows or when one passes through the office. I’ve had enough time with them to understand that they’re in a completely different league than the M.A.D.1. Building something absolutely insane like a sequential chronograph from scratch is much different than re-jiggering a Miyota movement in a fresh and creative way. That’s why they’re different brands. I would look at it this way: You can own a watch from one of modern horology’s greats, regardless of what brand it falls under. The M.A.D.1 Red isn’t a cheaper facsimile of a much more expensive MB&F model; it’s an entirely different thing.

What time is it mate?!

I generally look at high-end independent timepieces the way I look at hypercars or airplanes. I follow the new releases from MB&F, Ferdinand Berthoud, F.P. Journe, and the like, and I appreciate them for advancing independent horology and keeping the savoir faire in the craft – but I don’t aspire to own anything coming out of those workshops, because I know the odds are too low and the price is too high.

The M.A.D.1 Red has changed my thinking. The price of admission is a genuine value prop, and one I can swing. I think M.A.D. Editions is about to turn a whole new set of general watch enthusiasts into fans of independent horology through ownership. Büsser says there are many more watches in the works, and even potentially another run of M.A.D.1 Red examples in the pipeline. This is just the beginning.

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Learn more about the M.A.D.1 Red and M.A.D. Editions on their website.