The Aesthete: Maximilian Büsser talks more personal taste

The Swiss watchmaker rounds up his list of likes with fantastic shopping streets in Tokyo, the art of gallery curation and his 18th-century Samurai sword

Maximilian Büsser at home in Dubai
Maximilian Büsser at home in Dubai | Image: Mohamed Somji

My style icon is Steve McQueen. He didn’t need to overdress, he didn’t need to overdo it. Whatever he wore, he looked cool.  

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Japan. I trekked with my wife Tiffany around Tokyo, Kyoto and Mount Fuji. It was magical: 12 days of walking 20-25km a day. Japan, for me, is the only developed country that’s a culture shock. You really feel it’s different.

Steve McQueen – Büsser’s style icon
Steve McQueen – Büsser’s style icon | Image: Getty Images

My favourite room in my house is our sitting room, where our two daughters, who are two and six, often give us a wonderfully crazy dance show at the end of the day. They make us laugh, and that moment is priceless. 

A recent “find” is Comptoir 102 in Dubai. It’s an excellent vegetarian restaurant and concept store close to the beach. It was created seven years ago by a Frenchwoman who was fed up with all the usual branded stuff. She wanted to create something different – an experience much closer to Europe. We go there a lot as a family, especially for the seaweed pesto, avocado crostini and the amazing choco pot. 102 Beach Road, Jumeirah 1, Dubai (+9714-3854 555; comptoir102.com).

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The best book I’ve read in the past year is Sapiens, and then the follow-up, Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari. Suddenly, everything in today’s world makes sense, especially humans’ impressive capacity for auto-destruction. 

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Omotesando in Tokyo. It started off as a luxury shopping destination, but the main street itself is a boring copy-paste of everywhere else. The fantastic parts are all the streets behind it – it’s this arty, crazy, chaotic place where every building has become a Japanese brand you’ve never heard of, with tons of pop-up stores and designer get-togethers. Tiffany went nuts at United Nude, for example. All city centres are looking the same now, so Omotesando is a breath of fresh air. unitednudejapan.com.

Choco pot from Le Comptoir 102 in Dubai
Choco pot from Le Comptoir 102 in Dubai

The person I rely on for personal grooming is Stéphane Lenotte, who has been my hairdresser for over 20 years. I time my appointments for when I go back to Geneva, and if I can’t, it’s a complete disaster. He’s my age and we’ve grown older together. 19 Avenue Adrien-Jeandin, 1226 Thônex, Geneva (facebook.com/le19streethair).

The last music I downloaded was Simple Song #3 by David Lang from the film Youth. The music is just so beautiful, but you do have to like opera. I’ve got very eclectic tastes: I can easily go from heavy metal to opera. 

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

The best gift I’ve received recently is a drawing. I travel often and my six-year-old daughter always gives me a drawing just before I leave. I try to do a little video of me with the drawing wherever I am in the world to show I’ve brought it with me. It’s a little tradition we’ve built up. 

The last meal that truly impressed me was at the two-Michelin-starred L’Atelier d’Edmond in Val d’Isère. I went with Tiffany and the meal was mind-blowing. We had the Nature & Découverte set menu. On top of the amazing flavours and the use of local mountain produce were the small bites served in between, each more amazing than the last. The Fornet, 73150 Val d’Isère (+334-7900 0082; atelier-edmond.com).

The Shinjuku district of Tokyo
The Shinjuku district of Tokyo | Image: Getty Images

In my fridge you’ll always find tons of fresh vegetables, a few slices of pata negra and a bottle of champagne (for our guests as I’m a teetotaller). I think as a family we are slowly becoming vegetarian. Today, we tend to have vegetables all year round, not in season, but in Dubai we try to go from one season to the other eating what you think we would be eating in Europe.  

An object I would never part with is an early-18th-century Katana sword I inherited from my parents. One of my mum’s best friends was the first female surgeon in the British army. She did the Burma Campaign, and during that time she saved a Japanese commander’s leg. Apparently he gave her his family Samurai sword to thank her. I don’t actually know if the story is true, but I remember my dad telling it and it resonated with me. 

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If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be curating. I’ve been creating watches for 28 years, and I often say watchmaking saved my life, because it gave me a purpose. It gave me meaning; my story. And I can’t imagine doing anything else. But what’s interesting for me now is something I didn’t know I’d be good at: being a curator. With our MAD galleries, it’s something I discovered that I love and had no idea about before.

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