What MB&F's Armed Robbery Taught Us About the Holiday Spirit

This Christmas, we share a harrowing but inspiring tale from one of our favorite manufactures.

Here at SHIFTed our inboxes are chock full of more reference numbers and hi-res macro images than even the most seasoned horologist knows what to do with.

Swiss manufacture MB&F has been on our minds a lot lately following our chat with the brand's founder, Maximilian Büsser, earlier in the month. Büsser's thoughts on innovation and upmarket trends in the industry were disruptive to say the least — refreshingly unbridled and legitimately concerned with bringing art and evolution back to the watchmaking.

Similarly, we could never have prepared for the end of year thank you note they sent us either. Rather than a stock e-card or dancing reindeer GIF, MB&F shared more details of a story that had been circulating around the community for months — their account of the armed robbery at their M.A.D. Gallery in Geneva. 

 "...they were preparing to sell their ill-gotten gains to a fellow thug."

"My colleagues were tied up and threatened at gunpoint by two well-dressed criminals, posing as potential customers," said COO Charris Yadigaroglou.  "Luckily no physical violence occurred, but my colleagues were understandably shaken . . ."

The gallery's display windows and safe were completely emptied, and the thieves took dozens of timepieces. Among them were MB&F's “museum” pieces no longer in production: the Horological and Legacy Machines. "[They] form the irreplaceable memory of our Horological Lab," added Yadigaroglou. "In addition to the trauma caused by the incident itself, we were shattered by the material loss."

If MB&F's admission that this loss stung might sound superficial or petty in any other industry, this community celebrates and cherishes our collections, inanimate though they may be, and in doing so infuse them with life. It's the story behind those pieces that gives them life, that gives them true worth.

MAD-Gallery-Geneva-Facade-1_Lres (1)-1.jpgM.A.D. Gallery Geneva (Courtesy of MB&F)

It was but a few months later when the combined police forces of Switzerland, France and Belgium managed to track the criminals across three countries, all the way to Antwerp. " In a final scene that seems taken directly from a B-movie, Belgian police — disguised as the boisterous fans of a local football team! — took the crooks by surprise and arrested them in a restaurant, as they were preparing to sell their ill-gotten gains to a fellow thug," reveals Yadigaroglou. Luckily, every single stolen timepiece was still in the gang's possession and damages were minor. 

Since the watches were considered evidence by Belgian authorities, and since the investigation crossed three countries with three separate police forces and judicial systems, it would be few months more before MB&F got their pieces back.

Moments of grace and wonder happen all the time, but we often block ourselves from recognizing them As We soldier on through our urban grind with heads down and headphones on. 

Though it happened a little too early in the year to technically be considered a Christmas miracle, there's a lot of wisdom here. The first lesson is one of care and dedication. MB&F's dedication to designing not just watches, but machines that qualify as wearable art, was reflected and portioned back to them through that tri-country police effort. To quote a faded bumper sticker adorning many a hippie bus: "My karma ran over your dogma."

The second lesson is one of patience. By swallowing their aghast and biding their time, the manufacture got back what was theirs, but only after months of searching followed by months more of waiting for their property to no longer be deemed evidence in an active investigation.

And the third lesson is a simple one, maybe even a little bit silly — now is the season of miracles. Moments of grace and wonder happen all the time, but we often block ourselves from recognizing them as we soldier on through our urban grind with heads down and headphones on. Those with antennae of empathy for others around them, be they close loved ones or complete strangers, develop a strong sense for picking up on the tiny coincidences that happen all around us. When those coincidences feel just and corrective, righting some wrong or fixing something that seemed broken beyond repair, we call them miracles. To that end, your friends at SHIFTed remind you 'tis the season. 

SHIFTed Staff
SHIFTed Staff

SHIFTed Blog

Timely musings on vintage watches, men's fashion, cocktails, cigars, travel, cars, racing and more . . .

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