Watches: MB&F Legacy Machine 101 (+live pics)
By Thierry Ané on May 7, 2014
As much as I love all five Horological Machines in every possible rendition so far, none of them impresses me more than the first two Legacy Machines! Although it takes an immense creativity and courage to create the former, I believe it requires an even more important amount of perspective relative the History of Watchmaking as well as a tremendous design expertise to create the latter.
If MB&F’s Horological Machines are conceived to blow your mind away, their Legacy counterparts achieve this feat almost by accident. Their raison d’être is elsewhere: they represent Maximilian Büsser’s homage to traditional watchmaking, a hypothetical guess at what he would have built had he been born a century earlier.
However, as every book or film on the subject would teach you, time travel is generally very dangerous and most brands would have lost their identity and credibility in the twists and turns of the time-space continuum. Not MB&F though! With a concept that places centre-stage the essence of what is essential in a watch, the balance wheel, Maximilian Büsser brings us back to the origins of accurate time measurement and thanks to an unrivalled finishing (realised under the supervision of Kari Voutilainen) he also immediately resuscitates the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries aesthetics.
The LM 101 (left) next to the LM 1 Xia Hang
It is therefore somehow fitting that MB&F finally answers the prayers of would-be collectors afraid by contemporary-sized watches with a Legacy Machine: the new Legacy Machine 101 only brings the traditional theme one step further by reducing the case size from 44 mm (LM1 and LM2) to 40 mm (LM 101).
Although aesthetically close to the LM1, this new addition to the Legacy Machine line is by no means a scaled down version of its predecessor. The movement has been entirely developed for this model and, has it happens, it is the very first completely conceived and built in-house by the brand (it does not mean the end of the fruitful collaborations with friends that will remain at the core of MB&F’s concept). In keeping with previous models, though, Kari Voutilainen was responsible for the fine finishing.
Two versions of the Legacy Machine 101 are available, one in red gold and the other in white gold and neither of them will be limited. Two slightly-domed white lacquered dials seem to float above the silver or grey sunray engraved main plate (depending on the version). The larger one at 1 o’clock uses Roman numerals to indicate the time of the day while the other, located at the 6 o’clock position, features Arabic numerals and serves as power reserve indicator. Circled in the same colour of gold as the case, they showcase highly legible blued gold hands.
The star of the show remains the balance wheel majestically floating high above the rest of the dial. The elegant bridge holding it in position has been milled from a solid block of metal which represents a technical prowess. More than five hours of hand polishing are necessary to achieve its mirror-like lustre. Since it overhangs the mainplate as much as it does on the LM1 for a smaller case diameter, it also means the presence of a much more convex sapphire crystal on the front.
Flip the watch over and you will have the same Geneva waves as previous models as well as the same outstanding level of overall finishing. Hand polished bevels, over-sized ruby jewels with gold chatons… Kari Voutilainen spared no efforts to ensure a superlative finishing in line with the nineteenth century style and the standards of the brand.
The new Legacy Machine 101 will retail for CHF 52,000 and, for the sake of comparison, the original Legacy Machine N°1 retailed for CHF 79,000 (prices exclusive of VAT). Although there is absolutely no doubt this is an amazing piece of fine watchmaking with an extremely unique design, an impressive manufacture movement and a flawless finish, I personally find the dial a little too compact: such an amazing 3-dimensional construction requires more space for its beauty to radiate.