Apple may have let everyone down with the launch of their much hyped but largely unchanged ‘new’ iPhone yesterday however as far as we’re concerned a paradigm-shifting ‘No. 5’ was still unveiled all the same. We are of course talking about the fifth machine from creative geniuses MB&F, possibly their most unconventional creation yet. Well for them, anyway! By the way, did we mention it’s round!?
Creating A Legacy
The use of the number 5 is probably a bit misleading as although this is technically the fifth machine to be constructed by MB&F, it is actually the first in a complete new line of timepieces, known as the Legacy Machines. This new series will pay homage to the Grand Masters of 18th and 19th century horology with traditional designs that feature a distinctive MB&F twist (or two!)
The first timepiece in this new series, and coincidentally the first round-case watch ever produced by the brand, is called the Legacy Machine No.1 (LM1 for short) and we have to say it is pretty amazing! Veteran followers of the brand undoubtedly did a double-take the first time they saw it and with good reason, this is the most conventional watch this most unconventional of brands has ever made and yet it is so distinctly MB&F that it’s almost freaky.
Recognising the need to draw on multiple strengths for this unique project, MB&F Founder and Creative Director Maximilian Busser enlisted the help of two of the industry’s great talents, Jean-François Mojon – creator of the award-winning Harry Winston Opus X among other things – and Kari Voutilainen, an exceptional independent watch-maker held in the highest regard for his adherence to the traditional elements of haute horology.
Mojon and his team at Chronode (Best Watchmaker Prize at the 2010 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève) took on the challenge of developing the calibre for LM1 from a blank sheet, whilst Voutilainen was responsible for the aesthetic design and for strictly ensuring the utmost respect for tradition and finish. An unlikely duo no doubt but if anyone could make it work it’s Max.
The End Result
And by all accounts he has. The LM1 is a drop-dead cool timepiece which combines classic craftsmanship with modern design elements and avant-garde thinking. Whilst the movement is cutting edge it has been finished beautifully in the most historical of traditions, featuring immaculate Geneva waves, highly-polished gold chatons and bridges with impeccably executed bevels following deliberate internal angles (which cannot be finished by machine). The names of both creators are also engraved in the calibre, a first for Voutilainen who has never agreed to put his coveted name on any other movements but his own.
One, rather important feature, does seem to be missing though: the balance wheel.
It hasn’t gotten far though, how could it really when it has been put on display for all to see on the front of the dial? In a rather interesting design twist the balance wheel is suspended over the middle of the dial, taking an essential element of time-keeping and turning it into a moving work of art. As you can see from the live video below from MB&F North America’s President, Steve Hallock, the visual effect is rather mesmerizing:
You would have probably also noticed by now that there are two crowns at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock respectively. These control what is perhaps the LM1’s coolest feature – the dual time zone. You see the two sub-dials are able to display two totally independent times, not just offset by the usual hours or half-hours like other GMT watches, but by whatever time lapse you might need. How is this possible you ask? Well, the rate keeping of the twin dials is controlled by the same regulator (balance and escapement) so that once set, the two times stay perfectly synchronised with each other. This means that both the hours and minutes on both dials can be set to any time desired via their respective crowns.
Rounding out the distinctive design is a domed sapphire crystal, a feature which may irk those who like their timepieces to sit completely flat under their shirt cuffs but which nonetheless provides for some pretty creative displays such as the unusual sextant-shaped instrument, placed at 6 o’clock: the world’s first vertical power reserve.
The MB&F LM1 is available in both white gold and red gold (I think I prefer the white gold personally) and, judging by the result so far, is going to be extremely popular. So if you want one order it now!
The Final Word
In my opinion this could possibly be one of, if not the most important timepieces created by MB&F to date. With this timepiece Busser proves beyond a doubt that he can play in whatever realm he chooses. Certainly there are a number of individuals who can design and create traditional timepieces, just as there are those who can dream up avant-garde inventions that test the boundaries of the status quo. However, there are very few that can do both and it is even rarer still to find someone who can combine them. Hats of Mr Busser, exceptionally well-played.
For more information please visit the official MB&F website: www.mbandf.com