By Kien Lee
It was 10 years ago when we witnessed the unveiling of the first Legacy Machine (LM1), by MB&F which had by that time, already launched 4 Horological Machines which had come to define the Swiss independent watch label, up until then.
When the LM1 was launched, MB&F laid down the marker for its two discrete lines -- the Horological Machines are derived from an imagined future, whereas the Legacy Machines would be inspired by a re-imagined past.
When I created MB&F, I said I would never ever create a round watch again. For me, it was all about kinetic 3D sculptures, horological machines."
Presented in a round case, the LM1 with its white lacquered dials and blued hands, had as its centrepiece, a mesmerising "flying" balance wheel, plucked from its traditionally rear-mounted location, and placed up front and center for all to admire, oscillating under a domed crystal.
However, when Max did put his mind to it, he opined, "What would have happened if I had been born in 1867 instead of 1967? In the early 1900s the first wristwatches appear and I would want to create three-dimensional machines for the wrist, but there are no Grendizers, Star Wars or fighter jets for my inspiration. But I do have pocket watches, the Eiffel Tower and Jules Verne, so what might my 1911 machine look like? It has to be round and it has to be three-dimensional: Legacy Machine No.1 was my answer."
By harnessing the design conventions of traditional watchmaking to form this singularly defiant configuration of a watch movement, LM1 turned out to be MB&F’s most subversive creation since the company’s inception in 2005.
Back then, Max shared, "...the Legacy Machine nearly never saw light because everyone in my team thought this was a really bad idea! Some just told me they did not see the point of it, others that they did not join MB&F for that…! So looking back it already makes me proud that we made it come to life."
The Legacy Machine is amazingly in fact MB&F biggest risk to date. All our HM are virtually impossible to compare with the recognized leaders of the watch industry. You are not going to consider an HM4 better or worse than a Patek. But with Legacy Machine all comparisons were possible, and it seems it went through its first year with flying colours"
Indeed, the LM1 would go on to win two awards at the 2012 edition of the Grand Prix de l'Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), the most prestigious awards of the watchmaking world. It clinched both the Public Prize and Best Men’s Watch Prize, representing an unprecedented recognition from both the public and the professional jury.
For the Legacy Machine No.2 that followed in 2013, MB&F found inspiration by going 250 years back to the age of Ferdinand Berthoud (1727-1807), Antide Janvier (1751-1835) and Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) in the 18th century, when the three horological grand masters first worked with dual balance wheels within a timepiece.
The end result is a showcase of magnificent micro-engineering in the LM2, with high precision and complex mechanical complication deployed in one movement, using two fully independent escapements, and two balance wheels floating high above the dial. The pièce de résistance of this marvellous creation is a planetary differential which powers the regulators in the escapements, receiving the timing rates from each individual balance wheel, and finally transmitting the average rate to a single gear train to display the time on the dial, encased under a domed sapphire crystal cupola.
In 2014, for the first time in its collections, the Legacy Machine 101 that was launched boasted the very first hand-finished movement conceived, designed and developed entirely in-house by MB&F. Whilst its predecessors were sized at 44mm, the LM101 is slightly smaller at 40mm but still boasting a suspended "flying" balance wheel that is now iconic of the Legacy Machines of MB&F.
In 2015, MB&F would take on one of grand complications fo watchmaking, the Perpetual Calendar, by first presenting a skeletonized display of its 581-component mechanism, an-inhouse movement, which is rare in the industry. And secondly, the Legacy Machine Perpetual (LMP) would turn convention on its head with a logical interpretation: Why start with a standard of 31 days and force gears to jump? Instead with the LMP, MB&F goes with 28 days and depending on month, tacks on the requisite extra, all this run by a patent-pending "mechanical processor" that replaces the traditional central "grand levier."
For its entirely novel approach to the Perpetual Calendar complication, and aesthetically-breakthrough skeletonized presentation, the LMP would take home the Best Calendar Watch Prize at the 2016 edition of the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève, the third GPHG prize won by a Legacy Machine in the collection's 4 years of existence.
In 2017, MB&F would launch the Legacy Machine Split Escapement (LM SE). For the LM SE, the impulse jewel, anchor and escape wheel has been moved to opposite end of the engine, below the base plate, to allow the full beauty of the balance wheel to oscillate, to hypnotise.
2019 would see the first timepiece by MB&F dedicated to women. Max explains the Legacy Machine FlyingT is an homage to his late mother who had recently passed at the time, his wife as well as two daughters. To come up with the FlyingT, Max revealed the challenge was quite different, "It was horrendously difficult... First of all, I have no idea what a woman wants."
I wanted LM FlyingT to possess the epitome of femininity as reflected by the women in my life, particularly my mother. It had to combine supreme elegance with tremendous vitality."
The LM Flying T would garner MB&F's fourth GPHG award for its Legacy Machine collection, besting all others in its first ever foray into the women's watch segment and winning the Best Ladies Complication Watch Prize in 2020.
In the same year, MB&F would launch the Legacy Machine Thunderdome, boasting the world's fastest triple-axis regulating mechanism. The TriAx, together with the integration of a fixed escape wheel, and a hemispherical balance over a helical hairspring are unprecedented in classical and modern watchmaking. The end result is "the craziest, most cinematic three-axis tourbillon ever."
In 2020, the Legacy Machine Perpetual EVO joined the collection. With its "EVO" suffix, the LM Perpetual takes on a the mantra, as a watch not just for sports, but a watch for life. Key differences with its predecessor includes the LM Perpetual EVO with its zirconium case, lighter and more durable than titanium, as well as being hypoallergenic and anti-microbial. Size-wise, it remains the same at 44 mm, but the EVO goes bezel-less, with the domed sapphire crystal fused directly to the case.
It is also the first MB&F creation able to go up to 80 metres of water resistance, with its screw-down crown. Finally, a FlexRing, an annular dampener fitted between case and movement, provides shock protection along the vertical and lateral axes.
Performance Art Pieces - Limited Edition Collaborations
In the past 10 years, MB&F has also collaborated to produce very limited editions developed in collaboration with artists. 2014 was the first for the Legacy Machine, with Chinese artist Xia Hang, who reinterpreted the vertical power reserve indicator of LM1.
2016 saw a throwback within a throwback, with Alain Silberstein who had previously worked on MB&F’s Horological Machine 2.2, the "Black Box," eight years ago returning to give his signature treatment, inspired by miniature box cameras of the 1940s, to the LM Silberstein.
In 2020, MB&F came together with fellow independent brand H. Moser & Cie to produce the Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser x MB&F.
In the same year, MB&F also worked with Eddy Jaquet, one of the watchmaking industry’s most talented master engravers, to present a series of 8 unique pieces of the LM Split Escapement, inspired by the novels of Jules Verne.
Launch of the New LMX
Finally, this new year, on the 10th anniversary of the birth of the Legacy Machine, we welcome the LMX. It follows the naming convention dear to MB&F - the HM3 FrogX launched in 2020 marked a decade of the first HM3, whilst the HMX launched in 2015 celebrated the 10th birthday of MB&F.
The LMX builds on the rule-breaking, innovative breaking of barriers approach that Legacy Machine established ten years ago.
The LMX follows the aesthetic and complexity of the latest Legacy Machines, with two time zones displayed on two dials that are tilted at an angle, requiring the transfer of energy from horizontal to vertical planes thanks to conical gears. It also takes after the LM Perpetual, LM FlyingT and LM Thunderdome in having a more open worked approach to displaying their mechanical prowess, with the LMX revealing functional elements such as the battle-axe-shaped escapement bridge and gear-train components.
The world's first vertical power reserve indicator showcased by the Legacy Machine No.1 takes new form as a three-dimensional display that showcases the engine's impressive seven days (168 hours) of power reserve. In the LMX's evolved display, there is the option to select between two modes of counting down the power reserve. Two markers are positioned on opposite sides of a hemisphere; one framed by an arched scale numbered 1 to 7, another with a scale showing the days of the week.
Finally, the LMX reveals a symmetry on both its dial-side and its case back. On the reverse, three barrels can be seen placed evenly around the centre, accentuated by the sunray pattern of the Côtes de Genève finishing.
The LMX is available in two limited launch editions:
- 18 pieces in 18k red gold with black NAC treatment on plates and bridges;
- 33 pieces in grade 5 titanium with green CVD treatment on plates and bridges.