Back in 2014, MB&F surprised us with a watch that they said to be their reasonable proposition, a more consensual timepiece that was hopefully sharing the DNA of the Legacy Machine collection – meaning the LM1 and the LM2 – the so-called MB&F Legacy Machine 101 or LM101. Far from being boring however, this watch came with a first for the brand, an in-house movement. For this year, there’s something interesting that is about to be introduced, a new finishing that gives a brand new face to the watch. Here is the MB&F Legacy Machine 101 Frost.
What to say about the MB&F Legacy Machine 101? When we first reviewed it back in 2014, we’ve been surprised to see Max Büsser and its friends coming with such a watch. The brand was more used to shock us instead of being consensual and being dictated by the market demand. This boldness is part of the DNA of the brand. If you look back at the previous creations, they are the exact opposite of shyness. The unique shape of the Moonmachine, the totally crazy Horological Machine 6 or the 1970s inspiration of the Horological Machine 5, all of this creates a unique brand with unique products. This also goes for the Legacy Machine collection, the LM1 and the LM2, that were totally different propositions but still unique timepieces.
So when at Baselworld 2014 MB&F announced to have a reasonable watch, with a smaller size and proportions, we’ve been scared. However, we’ve been pleasantly surprised once the Legacy Machine 101 was in front of us. Indeed, it measures only 40mm, indeed, it misses a bit of the audaciousness of the other watches from the brand. However, the DNA is here and the watch was not void of interest. This is even more true this year, with the new finish that emphasizes the beauty of the LM101 and that brings a lot of charm.
This MB&F Legacy Machine 101 Frost is about a new finish and new materials. It means that the technical aspects (movement and functions) as well as the shape are 100% similar. The first thing compared to the other Legacy Machines was the reduction of the size, that is 40mm instead of 44mm for the LM1 and the LM2, making it more wearable on a daily basis – and a watch that can also be worn by women. It might be a detail but the huge size of the other Legacy Machines is, for us, part of the look and pleasure of these watches. Reducing the size of the case totally changes the proportions and the feeling on the wrist. It’s important to consider it as an entirely new concept and not only a reduced watch. Once this step passed, the LM101 is pleasant and still spectacular.
The layout of the dial is also quite a piece of interest. The main attraction of the Legacy collection was the balance wheel(s) floating over the dial and hold by a large 3D bridge. This very cool feature is still in place in the context of the LM101, with a huge balance wheel floating on the top of the dial, held in position by a double arched bridge. This bridge itself deserves to be observed, with its round arches mirror polished by hand. The indications are positioned in second place. The attention is focused by the escapement module. You’ll see two off-centred sub-dials for the hours/minutes and power reserve indication, made of translucent white lacquer and with blued hands. The overall layout of the MB&F Legacy Machine 101 (Frost or not) is very attractive – but also special, as nothing seems balanced, in opposition to the LM1 and the LM2, where everything is strictly symmetrical. This unbalanced arrangement was the main point of discussion when the LM101 was launched, but after a year, we must admit that it simply works.
The second novelty of the LM101 was its movement, that was, for the first time, entirely developed and assembled in-house. Of course the concept of friends and collaborations was always here, as Kari Voutilainen was consultant for the design of the movement and finishing specifications. The movement boasts a 45-hour power reserve and beats at a slow 18,000vph (2.5Hz) in order to enjoy the ballet of the balance wheel on the top of the dial and also to be more coherent with the vintage spirit of the collection. As expected from MB&F and Kari Voutilainen, the finishing and design of this new engine is amazing, with curved bridges, large rubies set in gold chatons, large thermally blued screws and superb hand-polished bevelled angles.
What’s new with the Frost edition are the finishings and the materials. The name frost comes from the frosted finish applied on the dial – well, in fact to top of the main plate of the movement. The frosted finish is an invention credited to Abraham-Louis Breguet in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Frosting was made in order to protect dials and movements from oxidation (a finish that is still used by Breguet in the Tradition collection). This finish is obtained by carefully compressing the surface with a wire brush. However, this is a much more difficult process to master and obtain a uniform, non-polished surface. Very few artisans today create true frosted finishes: the majority of surfaces that look frosted have in fact been bead blasted, which does not quite have the same visual impact. 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.
This new finish, together with being very pleasant, totally changes the face of the MB&F Legacy Machine 101, from a steampunk / neo-vintage inspired theme to a really old-school 18th century style. This is however not incoherent with the rest of the collection and the DNA of the brand. One regret: we would have love to see an even more rugged aspect, in order to emphasis again this frosted theme.
A specific finish is also applied on the movement that gets rids of the Geneva Stripes and gets instead blasted surfaces, more coherent with the face of the watch. The bridges and the main plate are all plated in gold to match the case and the dial – meaning that it comes in a choice of both red gold and yellow gold. The use of the latter is a first for MB&F that usually uses white metal – white gold or platinum – or red gold. Having this kind of outdated material back in such a watch is in fact a great choice that totally matches the concept and inspiration.
The MB&F Legacy Machine 101 Frost are limited editions of 33 pieces for the 18k red gold version and 18 pieces for the 18k yellow gold one. They will be priced (either the yellow or red gold) at 58.000 Swiss Francs (before taxes) while the classical editions of the LM101 are priced at 55.000 Swiss Francs.
More info: www.mbandf.com