MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual
Esteemed American watch journalist, Meehna Goldsmith, provides her thoughts on the MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual. This high-end perpetual calendar features a very ingenious movement design, allowing wearers to adjust the calendar settings without fear of harming the intricate and costly components within.
This detailed review of the MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual includes live images, specification details and pricing.
Founded by Max Büsser, MB&F is a man’s unadulterated vision of watchmaking. Büsser left an illustrious career that included senior management at Jaeger-LeCoultre, where he was one of the architects of the Master line and pumped life into Harry Winston’s luxury watches, turning them into a haute contender with the Opus line. Büsser decided to forgo the money and security because he was driven to realise a personal journey of luxury watches without interference. Moreover, he wanted to pull back the curtain from the secretive, and often paranoid, culture of the watch business to give the talent behind the watches their due: thus the name MB&F, which stands for Maximilian Büsser & Friends.
For his defining act, Büsser brought us the rather challenging but mesmerising Horological Machine N°1, a large and funky watch resembling either an infinity symbol or a “peanut,” as its nickname indicates. Innovative, with its technical aspects of four barrels connected in series and the first movement with energy transmitted to the regulating system from two sources simultaneously, the HM N°1 was fun to handle and look at, but too trailblazing for most who preferred a more traditional design. Some deemed it unwearable. Therefore, Max’s concept for “machines that happen to tell time” was not usually a first watch choice—and perhaps too bold and different to add to a collection anyway, except for the true WISs (Watch Idiot Savants).
Horological Machine N°1 (HM1)
Though I admired the Horological Machines, they weren’t watches I would consider buying: one, because my budget didn’t allow—and second, as a burgeoning collector, for that amount of money, I wouldn’t purchase a watch I couldn’t wear every day. Horological Machines, in my opinion, are mostly for wealthy collectors who already have watches suitable for all occasions and are looking for something different. Büsser never cared. He was creating watches that appealed to him. If people liked them, great, if not, so be it.
Legacy Machine N°1 (LM1)
Then the Legacy Machine N°1 (LM1) came along in 2010. And it was a delightful surprise. Still referencing codes from the MB&F family, this is a round watch—the first one to come out of the atelier. When Büsser first presented the idea to his team, it was a scandal, infuriating those involved who thought Büsser was abandoning his principles. Büsser convinced them he hadn’t sold out, that this new Legacy pillar wasn’t eschewing the unstated expectation of no round watches ever, but was actually still a 3D Machine.
A stunning tribute to the 19th century while also extreme, outrageous and modern, the LM1 is a feast for the eyes with its enormous floating central balance wheel, independent dual time zones, fascinating vertical power reserve indicator—and oh, that exquisitely finished movement designed by Kari Voutilainen together with Jean-François Mojon and his team at Chronode. A winner literally, it secured the “Best Men’s Watch” and the “Public Prize” at the 2012 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. The LM1 could definitely be considered a first watch purchase.
Büsser expanded the Legacy line and the most recent addition to the family is the MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual with self-taught, independent Irish movement designer Stephen McDonnell. It’s a completely different movement conceived from the ground up as a perpetual calendar, not just a lazy add-on module: a solution that is more commonly employed by other brands, less elegant and done to keep costs down. The LM Perpetual keeps the trademark floating balance wheel which grants an absolute treat for the eyes.
Perpetual calendars can be finicky mechanisms too. Don’t adjust the calendar at certain times or risk breaking the mechanism. You become a nervous, high-strung mess whenever you go to make a correction, fearing thousands of dollars in repair fees if you happen to damage the mechanics. Büsser refers to perpetual calendars as boomerang watches because they are always coming back to get fixed. He says, “The mechanisms jam, block, break, or jump days when they shouldn’t.”
Not with the MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual. McDonnell advanced the technology so there’s no more skipping dates or jamming gears: the pushers to adjust the date deactivate when the calendar changes. So no need to panic about causing an expensive mechanical injury there. Also, and this is very cool, it employs a “mechanical processor” instead of a big lever so there’s no scrolling through superfluous days as the date jumps. Therefore, no long slide into the home base of correct time. That’s true for the leap year too. Adjusted with a dedicated pusher and using a planetary gear, you don’t have to sprain your wrist turning the crown up to 47 times every four years. This dedicated construction allows the long staff of the balance wheel, visible to the rear, to connect with the escapement with no lever blocking it and appears like its hovering.
In order to admire this mechanical orchestration, MB&F decided against a dial, leaving the movement exposed, along with its luxurious finishing by Jacques-Adrien Rochat / C-L Rochat. By changing the architecture of a perpetual calendar for more elegance, i.e. without the clunky lever sprawling across the movement, allows for the magical illusion of floating dials and balance wheel—a show I’d attend every day. I won’t explain the layout of the dials because it’s rather obvious and quite boring to read what you can clearly see.
I really tried to find a problem with this watch—and I could only come up with one. I can’t afford one.
- Model: MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual
- Case: 18-carat 5N+ red gold or platinum 950; diameter 44mm; height 17.5mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; day; date; month; retrograde leap year; power reserve indicator.
- Movement: Hand-wound movement; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz); 41 jewels; power reserve 72 hours; 581 components
- Strap: Hand stitched alligator strap presented with gold platinum folding buckle matching case material
- Price: 18-carat 5N+ red gold – CHF 138,000 + VAT (RRP as at 18.8.2016)
- Price: Platinum – CHF 168,000 + VAT (RRP as at 18.8.2016)
- Limited Edition: 25 pieces in 18-carat 5N+ red gold and 25 pieces in platinum 950