The mighty MB&F just released a new piece in their Legacy Machine 101 Collection – MB&F LM101 Palladium. The 18 pieces limited series will be manufactured with a palladium case and will feature a “vert d’eau” dial (mot-à-mot translation will be “water green” – sea green or aquamarine). I visited the MB&F M.A.D. Gallery to see the MB&F LM101 Palladium in the metal and these are my impressions. The official press release and pictures are available at the end of the article.
MB&F LM101 Palladium
The new version of Legacy Machine 101 is a continuation of the selection of precious metals. The LM101 was previously available in red gold and white gold, a “Frost” limited edition of red and yellow gold, plus a spectacular platinum edition.
Have a look at the video below for a first live impression. (The wrist roll video and the live images were taken at M.A.D. Gallery in Geneva with improper setup and lighting)
The first thing that stroke me was the engaging shine of the palladium case. The good look is given by the specific silvery-white appearance of the Platinum group metals (palladium, platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium). The metals are rare and have a vital role in our daily life. Just think about the catalytic converters in the cars that surround us (Wikipedia is a good source of info on this topic).
The palladium case looks great. Sized at 40mm diameter with a height of 16mm, the watch has balanced dimensions, imposing no gender barrier (no real collector, lady or gent will care about such a frivolous topic).
The brushed case’s side makes a nice contrast with the polished bezel and lugs. Moreover, the brushed surfaces make a good introduction for the sunray dial.
A Switzerland lake or Polynesian sea?
The ones accustomed with the previous versions of MB&F LM101, the new dial will appear familiar. Again, the dial is centrally dominated by the ‘flying’ balance wheel. This time, the arresting mechanical detail floats over calm waters. The “vert d’eau” dial has that undefined green, grey, blue shade. The colour simply immerses you in a calm state, emphasising the balance wheel and the raised sub-dials.
The layout is “relative” simple. The clean design gives the impression of simplicity, while we all know that is not the case. The central balance wheel steals the eye of the viewer. A small raised dial, placed at 6 o’clock displays the power reserve. The time, hours and minutes, is shown on another small raised dial, somewhere between 1 and 2 o’clock traditional position.
The view offers great legibility due to the high contrast of the blued gold hands on white enamel.
The base dial plate bears the calligraphic hand-engraved “Legacy Machine”.
Signed Kari Voutilainen
MB&F LM101 Palladium is powered by the three-dimensional horological machine developed in-house. The original construction breaks the conventional barriers.
The movement is
gorgeous superlative finished respecting the 19th-century style (official wording used to describe the movement’s finishes). The idea is: the calibre bears the “signature“ of Kari Voutilainen. Once – engraved on one of the bridges (visible through the exhibition case back), second – on the quality of and magnificently executed decorations. Take a big loupe (I mean the Project LpX), go to MB&F M.A.D. Gallery and see if you can contradict me.
When traditional stays only in finishes
The new MB&F LM101 Palladium is a gorgeous machine. The brand is anyway a grand consumer of beauty epithets and the latest addition makes no exception.
I find the palladium case to be an exceptional choice for the “vert d’eau” dial. The exotic case shine is balanced by the exotic dial colour. The entire watch is an ultra-modern eye arresting concept, keeping though an idea of classicism through the traditional finishing.
The technical specification, the live images and the official press release photos can be found at the end of the article.
MB&F LM101 Palladium Press Release
For the ones interested in the official press release, this is available below with the official video and pictures.
Original Press Release MB&F LM101 Palladium
Legacy Machine 101 (LM101) was launched in 2014 and houses the very first movement developed entirely in-house by MB&F – this initiated a long series of movements developed internally. The latest addition to the series – the LM101 Palladium edition – is also the first MB&F piece in palladium, a rare silvery-white metal. The naturally white colour of palladium contrasts with a new sunray dial, which varies between grey and shades of pale blue and green depending on the light.
For a classically sized 40mm wristwatch, Legacy Machine 101 covers a lot of ground. Or to be more precise, LM101 covers a lot of time: over 100 years between inspiration and realisation.
Legacy Machine 101 embodies and accentuates the very essence of what is essential in a wristwatch: the balance wheel, which is responsible for regulating precision; how much power remains in the mainspring, which indicates when it needs to be next wound; and of course, the time.
Visually, LM101 is dominated by the monumental suspended balance wheel, its sedate oscillations drawing the eye ever closer. Two pristine-white subdials hover just above the fine sunray-engraved movement top plate: At the top right, highly legible hours and minutes are displayed by beautiful blued-gold hands contrasting against the immaculate white, while the 45-hour power reserve indicator is displayed in a smaller, but similar subdial below. Two ‘Frost’ limited editions add even more contrast between these elements and the effervescent backdrop of the hand-finished frosted dial plate.
In an apparent feat of magic, the sapphire crystal protecting the dial appears to be invisible; creating the illusion that you can reach out and touch the prodigious balance wheel hanging mesmerisingly from elegant twin arches. The arches are milled from a solid block of metal and require many hours of hand polishing to achieve their mirror-like lustre.
Turning over Legacy Machine 101, the display back crystal – domed to reduce the thickness of the caseband and, visually, the height of the watch – reveals the exquisitely hand-finished movement. Sensually curved plates and bridges pay homage to the style found in high-quality historic pocket watches and testify to the respect accorded to historical legitimacy.
With its undulating Geneva waves, hand-polished bevels, gold chatons and countersunk blued screws, the beauty of LM101’s movement doesn’t just stay faithful to a bygone era. It also heralds the dawn of a new epoch as it was the first MB&F calibre to be entirely conceived and designed in-house.
While award-winning independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen took responsibility for the movement’s fine finishing specifications and fidelity to the horological past, its architecture and construction are 100% pure MB&F.
LM101 was first launched in 18k red or white gold, then in two limited ‘Frost’ editions with frosted finishing (18 and 33 pieces), followed by a limited edition of 33 pieces in platinum 950. The latest addition to the series is the LM101 Palladium, limited to 18 pieces.
Legacy Machine 101 in detail
Engine: While the movement of Legacy Machine 101 is superficially similar to that of Legacy Machine No.1, closer examination reveals that it is an entirely new calibre. It is not merely a scaled down version of LM1’s movement, but an entirely new calibre conceived and developed in-house by MB&F.
The balance wheel and spring are at the very heart of any mechanical watch movement and their isochronal (equal intervals of time) oscillations regulate the movement’s precision. Büsser has long been fascinated by the large slowly oscillating – 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph compared with the much faster 4 Hz/ 28,800 vph more common today – balance wheels of antique pocket watches. So it was no surprise that this was his starting point.
What was surprising though is just how radically he re-interpreted tradition by relocating the balance wheel from its more usual position hidden at the back of the movement to majestically floating not just the above movement but high above the dial.
While the location of LM101’s oscillator may be considered avant-garde, ‘tradition’ is upheld by the large 14mm diameter balance wheel, featuring regulating screws specifically developed for MB&F, balance spring with Breguet overcoil and mobile stud holder.
And if you thought that the balance wheel looks impressive in Legacy Machine N°1, it looks even larger in the smaller diameter setting of LM101.
Dial and Indications: While the animated suspended balance visually dominates LM101, the immaculate white dials for the time (hours and minutes) and power reserve indications are both aesthetically appealing and highly legible thanks to the high contrasting blue hands.
Complementing the three-dimensionality of the balance floating in space, the white dials with their bright blued-gold hands float just above the top of the movement. The dials are gently domed with a translucent, high-gloss lustre created using a laque tendue process in which multiple layers of lacquer are applied and heated, causing them to stretch over the surface of the dials.
To ensure aesthetic purity of the dials, a sophisticated fixation underneath removes the necessity of visually obtrusive attachment screws. A fine golden perimeter circumscribing each dial elegantly reinforces their timeless classicism.
Fine Finishing and Historical Legitimacy: While the movement was developed entirely in-house, acclaimed master watchmaker Kari Voutilainen assumed responsibility for ensuring the movement’s historical accuracy of the bridge design and fine finishing.
A finely engraved sun-ray pattern on top of the movement plate (dial side) subtly catches the eye at certain angles without distracting attention from the white dials of the time and power reserve indications and suspended floating balance. But it is in the style and finish of the bridges and plates visible through the display on the back of the movement where Kari Voutilainen has excelled in providing exquisite historical fidelity in both the shape of elegantly curved bridges and the traditionally wide space between the bridges and between the perimeter of the bridges and the case.
On the back of the movement, over-sized ruby jewels set in highly-polished countersunk gold chatons provide striking visual counterpoints to the Geneva waves. While providing historical links with the large jewels seen in high-grade antique pocket watch movements, the ruby bearings have a practical application in reducing wear/increasing longevity by accommodating large diameter pinions and holding more lubricating oil.
Frosted finish for the Frost editions:
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, frosting was created by treating the components with a special acid mixture and then heating on an open flame (what could possibly go wrong). The result was a silvery-white effect looking similar to frost, which protected the surfaces from oxidation; this was important when watches and clocks were not water resistant at all.
As watchmakers became more attentive to the potential hazards associated with working with powerful acids, alternative methods were explored, the most effective – in terms of the quality of finish – being to very carefully brush the surface with a wire brush. However, it is extremely difficult to obtain a uniform result because just slightly too much pressure or brushing for too long can quickly ruin the desired matte surface with uneven polish.
Today there are very few craftsmen with the skills and experience necessary for creating a traditional frosted finish, and they closely guard their secrets. Modern traditional brushed frosting actually burnishes the surface (compresses the metal without removing material), creating a finish so hard that it is impossible to hand engrave.
Inspiration and Realisation: MB&F’s Legacy Machines were conceived when Maximilian Büsser started fantasising: “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. 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 early 20th century machines look like? They had to be round (tradition) and three-dimensional (MB&F Machine): Legacy Machines are the answer.”
Maximilian Büsser has had a long affinity with pocket watches of the 18th and 19th centuries. Virtually all horological complications we see today were not only imagined in that period, they were developed using just paper and pen (no sophisticated computer programs), components were produced to extremely high precision using – by today’s standards – fairly primitive machines (no electricity) and finely finished, assembled and regulated to an incredibly high quality that we still strive to match today. Their generous size compared with modern wristwatches allowed for uncluttered movement architectures with beautifully shaped bridges and plates.
While MB&F’s futuristic Horological Machines have a firm foundation in the very best of traditional horology, Büsser wanted to pay homage to that rich tradition by imagining the type of timepiece he might create if he had been born a 100 years earlier. With its large, sedately oscillating balance, domed dials, historical bridge design and classical fine-finishing, Legacy Machines are the very contemporary, yet traditionally elegant fruition of that dream.
Legacy Machine 101 Palladium Technical Specifications
Retail price of the LM101 Palladium is CHF 55,000 + VAT (USD 58,000 / EUR 51,000 before taxes) and is limited to an 18 pieces series.
Three-dimensional horological movement developed in-house by MB&F
Movement aesthetics and finish specifications: Kari Voutilainen
Manual winding with single mainspring barrel
- 45 hours
- Bespoke 14mm balance wheel with four traditional regulating screws floating above the movement and dials
- traditional Breguet curve terminating in mobile stud holder
Number of components:
- 229 components
Number of jewels:
- gold chatons with polished countersinks
- superlative hand finishing throughout respecting 19th-century style;
- internal bevel angles highlighting handcraft;
- polished bevels; frosted dial plate for the “Frost editions”;
- Geneva waves;
- hand-made engravings
- Hours, minutes and power reserve indicator.
- Large suspended balance wheel over dial
Available in 18k red gold or 18k white gold, in platinum 950 (33 pieces), in palladium 950 (18 pieces) and in two frosted editions in 18k red gold (33 pieces) and 18k yellow gold (18 pieces).
- 40mm wide x 16mm high
Number of components:
- High domed sapphire crystal on top and box sapphire crystal on back, both with anti-reflective coating on both side
Strap & Buckle:
- Black or brown hand-stitched alligator strap with gold, platinum or palladium buckle to match case.