For the first six years of its life, MB&F was associated with retro-futuristic vessels and unorthodox displays that seem to have been forged in a far-away galaxy. And then, in 2011, the Legacy Machine landed. Flying in the face of the brand’s galactic Horological Machines, the LM was round, with classical details like Roman numerals, lacquered sub-dials, blued hands, and in centre stage, a balance wheel suspended over the dial. Given the configuration of the LM models, with their suspended balance wheels and ever-increasing complications, the only downside was their relative fragility. Put it this way, nobody would think about wearing an LM Perpetual for a bike ride or a jog around the lake. And so, a solution was found with EVO, a series of structural changes that beefed up the case to make selected LM models ready for real-life situations. The first model to receive the EVO treatment was the LM Perpetual in 2020, followed by the insanely complex LM Sequential EVO and today, two LM Split Escapement EVOs: an Icy-Cool edition and an exclusive Beverly Hills limited edition reserved for MB&F’s latest retail adventure on Rodeo Drive, both with a new dial configuration.
The Legacy Machine Split Escapement appeared in 2017, a derivation of the impressive and revolutionary QP movement developed by Stephen McDonnell for the LM Perpetual (2015). If you’re interested in tracking track the evolution of the LM family over the past decade, don’t miss our retrospective article. While the Northern Irish master watchmaker was developing the complex QP, he realised that there was no room to put the escapement powering the balance wheel in the centre of the dial. To get around the problem, McDonnell developed a long 11.78mm balance staff (the longest in the world!) to traverse the entire movement allowing the balance wheel to perform its acrobatics on the dial and the remaining parts of the escapement tucked around the back. Because the balance wheel was visually separated from the anchor and escape wheel, the watch was called the Split Escapement.
Given the innovations onboard the LM Perpetual, the split escapement was largely overlooked. However, in 2017, MB&F decided to highlight McDonnell’s ingenious idea with the LM Split Escapement. With its symmetric and less populated dial, the large 14mm flying balance wheel was ‘split’ from the anchor and escape wheel and commanded attention in the centre of the dial (baseplate). Featuring hours and minutes in a classical sub-dial at noon with Roman numerals and two sub-dials for the date and power reserve indicator, the LM Split Escapement was a less complicated proposal with a date function that singled it out as a daily wearer.
It’s worth mentioning that these are not the first Legacy Machine Split Escapement models to get the EVO beefing-up treatment. There was a precursor in the form of a 10-piece limited edition discreetly presented to celebrate the United Arab Emirates’ Golden Jubilee with Seddiqi & Sons earlier this year. Housed in a more resilient titanium EVO case, the dial plate of the UAE model is a rich salmon colour, and the subsidiary dials for the date and power reserve are opened up. But this was not all: the mechanism was rotated clockwise by 30 degrees to produce a very different-looking watch. With a crown at 4:20 instead of 2 o’clock, the off-centred indications give the watch an entirely new personality.
The EVO case made its debut with the 2020 LM Perpetual, offering a far more resilient habitat for the mechanics. Both new LM Split Escapement EVO models have grade 5 titanium cases – 44mm x 17.5mm – and feature screw-down crowns to ensure the 80m water-resistance. Other particularities of the EVO case are the bezel-free design that permits the fusion of the domed sapphire crystal directly into the case, the hollowed integrated lugs for a sportier look and the integrated rubber strap. To provide extra resistance to shocks, the 298-part movement is suspended inside the case with a monobloc FlexRing dampener system that absorbs vertical and horizontal shocks. The discreet rectangular pusher on the left case side at 11 o’clock is to adjust the date quickly without having to fiddle around with the crown.
Icy-Cool and Beverly Hills
The Legacy Machine Split Escapement EVO Icy-Cool edition features an attractive pastel blue baseplate (dial) with a sunray-brushed pattern radiating from beneath the balance wheel and contrasting openworked grey counters. The 25-piece Beverly Hills edition also comes in a grade 5 titanium case, but the baseplate is black, and the three sub-dials are metallic blue to match the corporate colours of Westime, MB&F’s partner in LA, which opened the first MB&F LAB. Both are fitted with integrated rubber straps; light grey for the Icy-Cool and white for the Beverly Hills with a titanium folding buckle.
Like the UAE model, the 30-degree displacement of the mechanism means that the hour and minute sub-dial is now positioned between 2 and 3 o’clock, the power reserve at 6, the date at 9 and the crown at 4:30. Naturally, the spectacular 14mm balance wheel performing at a relaxed speed of 2.5Hz is placed in the centre and surmounted by the equally spectacular double-arched bridge with a mirror-polished finishing. As an EVO model, the classical Roman numerals on white lacquered dials have been exchanged for simpler and more contemporary-looking indices, and the hands and numerals are treated with Super-LumiNova.
The reverse side of the case reveals the same base manual-winding movement used inside the LM Perpetual (without the module) and beautiful finishings that evoke those used by master watchmakers in the 19th century on pocket watch movements. The bevels are hand-polished with sharp, internal angles, some of the jewels are inserted in gold chatons, the spokes of the wheels are angled, and the flat surfaces are adorned with large Geneva waves. Contrasting to the traditional artisanal hand finishings, certain areas of the movement have been darkened with rose gold details for a more contemporary look.
The movement has two barrels delivering a robust 72-hour power reserve and runs at a 2.5Hz frequency (deliberately slow to appreciate the motion of the large balance on top of the dial). The escapement module (impulse jewel, anchor and escape wheel) can also be appreciated through the sapphire crystal caseback.
Availability & Price
The Legacy Machine Split Escapement EVO Icy-Cool is not a limited edition and retails for CHF 75,000, USD 80,000 or EUR 75,000 (plus tax). The Beverly Hills LM SE EVO is a limited edition of 25 pieces and will be available exclusively at the MB&F LAB in Beverly Hills, LA, managed by American watch retailer and partner Westime for USD 80,000 (plus tax).
For more information, please visit mbandf.com.