Angus Davies reviews the MB&F Legacy Machine No.1, an amazing watch that occupies the highest echeolons of haute hologerie.
MB&F is a relatively young watch brand, founded in 2005 by Maximilian Büsser. The “F” expressed in the brand’s nomenclature refers to “Friends”, the specialists Büsser calls upon to make his amazing horological creations.
Whilst I admire the originality and craftsmanship exemplified by the avant-garde MB&F Horological Machines such as the HM4 Thunderbolt, they have never really appealed to my relatively conservative tastes.
It is very easy to dismiss a brand merely on a model which does not engage with your heart. However, MB&F have established a parallel range to satisfy the aesthetics of those of us who crave tradition.
The Legacy Machine No.1 has some architecture and finishing familiar to fans of classical watchmaking, but Maximilian Büsser has not eschewed unorthodox flourishes of style totally. The design of the LM1 harks back to 18th century pocket watches but with neoteric details. A fusion of styles somehow work wonderfully in harmony.
This conventionally round case has a pronounced domed sapphire crystal, like the roof of a cathedral in profile. It houses a congregation of parts working in union.
The parts do not lie flat in sedate prayer, they reach up to the heavens like a gospel choir in full chorus. They engage with the wearer. They have the three dimensional quality of a working sculpture rather than the relatively monosyllabic expression of a simple sketch.
The first thing you notice about the watch is that it does not have one dial but two. The two dials work independently. The watch does not work like a conventional GMT and could prove useful if you ever needed to work in a time zone which does not share the same minutes as your hometime, for example, Kabul. I think for most fans of horology, the complication is unnecessary, but wonderful nevertheless for its mechanical ingenuity.
The two dials feature blued hands and Roman numerals. The dials are pure white and lacquered. The outer edge of the dials is gold, imparting warmth and definition from the plate beneath.
The dials are proud of the plate beneath, appearing almost to float.
The balance wheel is not where it usually resides, to the rear of the dial, but suspended above the plate and the two aforementioned white dials. It hangs beneath a magnificent bridge unlike any bridge I have ever seen before. It looks more like a feat of civil engineering worthy of Sir Norman Foster, simple in its line but breathtaking in its beauty.
The balance wheel appears to be isolated from the movement, but clearly isn’t.
The power reserve reminds me of the throttle controls of an old fashioned plane. It arcs from the horizontal to show the energy stored within the spring barrel. A truly unique design feature. All other power reserves from now will appear boring by comparison.
The case has a diameter of 44 mm and a height of 16 mm. It is available in a choice of two metals 18-carat red gold and 18-carat white gold. I favour the red and I am not being political with this statement. The red gold is genial and suits the classical form.
Crowns are located at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock. Each crown provides independent adjustment for the dial residing close by.
Each crown is knurled with a different motif shown on each.
A sapphire back affords a view of the magnificent movement with flawless finishing.
Jean-François Mojon and his team realised Büsser’s dreamy sketches.
Kari Voutilainen ensured the historical touches were executed appropriately and his endeavours have been rewarded with an alluring aesthetic. Voutilainen was also responsible for the enchanting, peerless finissage.
Due reverence has been afforded to Breguet’s genius with his esteemed Overcoil.
The frequency of the movement is relaxed in nature, 18,000 vph. No need to follow the recent trend for supersonic frequencies which showboat with garish branding on the dial. This watch is about the considered execution of a horological work of art.
Quietly savour the Geneva waves on the bridges.
The oversized jewels accommodate large pinions and provide high capactiy reservoirs to store the lubricants. Apart from the visual appeal of the oversized jewels, they provide a practical means of mitigating friction and by default enhancing longevity.
The gold chatons are congruent with traditional watchmaking of yesteryear when real rubies were used and sometimes were broken when installing into the plate. The gold lining of the drilled bore holes reinforces the inherent quality of this movement.
When the Beatles sang their song, “With a little help from my friends” they sang the lyric, “I get by with a little help from my friends”.
Whilst Maximilian Büsser has been able to call on the support of Mojon and Voutilainen, to say he got by with a little help from his friends would be a gross understatement of the successful conclusion of their collaboration.
Few flattering superlatives can adequately describe the coherent comely charms of this timepiece.
I stared at this watch at Baselworld in 2012 and asked myself, “What do these guys eat for breakfast?” Clearly a wholesome diet of creativity.
All I can say is that when I saw the LM1 I got high with the friends of horology, MB&F.
Model: MB&F Legacy Machine No.1
Case: 18-carat red or white gold; diameter 44.00 mm; height 16.00 mm; water resistantant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and back.
Functions: Hours and minutes; completely independent dual time zones displayed on two dials; unique vertical power reserve.
Movement: manual winding; Frequency 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz) ; 23 jewels; Power reserve 45 hours.
Strap: Brown hand-stitched alligator strap with gold tang buckle (red gold model). Black hand-stitched alligator strap with gold tang buckle.