At long last! We might not be a majority, but there are plenty of women out there who appreciate the micro-mechanical delights of a watch but are unwilling to settle for a men’s watch spruced up with stones. MB&F has broken its 14-year-long tradition of masterminding complex, visually arresting men’s watches and taken its first step into feminine territory. The Legacy Machine Flying T is faithful to the brand’s philosophy of 3D ‘spectacle’ and stages a flying tourbillon in the centre of the dial and an intriguing hours and minutes dial perched at an angle at 7 o’clock, all protected under a pronounced crystal dome. Offered with a variety of diamond settings, the watch manages to be feminine without being ‘affected’. We were fortunate enough to have some hands-on time with the black lacquer dial model, and this is what we discovered.
Flying into feminine territory
In a short video that accompanies the release (on top of this article), Max Büsser talks about the inspiration behind the watch and the key women in his life. “It was time to get out of my comfort zone,” says Büsser “and create something for a woman. And I realised I had no idea what a woman wants.” Instead of trying to make something they would like, Büsser decided to encapsulate the “energy and elegance” he associates with these women. He also decided to avoid the ‘unisex gender-bender’ vogue and market the watch exclusively for women. The diamonds, he explains, are a declaration that this watch is unmistakably made for women.
Although the watch belongs to the Legacy Machine family and certain identity traits have made the transition – including the round case, the protuberant domed glass on the dial and the classic hours and minutes counter with Roman numerals and blued hands – the look couldn’t be more different. Starting with the case, whose only similarity with the men’s LM is the fact that it is round. Measuring a wearable 38.5mm, the 18k white gold case features a steeply cambered bezel and slender elongated lugs. In all three versions of the Flying T, the case is set with diamonds.
Either brilliant-cut or baguette-cut diamonds embellish the sides of the case, the lugs, and the two crowns. The pair of crowns add a pleasing symmetry to the case and you can see how the flanks are tapered and pinched to accommodate the crowns, a delightful feminine detail. All in all, the case is feminine, classic with a certain air of majesty. When viewed from the side – with its height of 20mm – you can really appreciate the pronounced dome of the sapphire crystal. Like a bell jar exhibiting an exotic species, your eyes gravitate to its interior where the complex column construction of the tourbillon is revealed.
Energy and Asymmetry on the dial
The second mandate Büsser set himself was to recreate the energy he admires in women. Moving in from the symmetry of the case we encounter a surprising, asymmetric dial layout with a ‘ventricular’ dial plate aperture in the centre and extremely original hours and minutes counter placed at 7 o’clock.
Since flying tourbillons are only anchored at their base, they tend to be placed safely inside the movement. MB&F’s watch is a ‘flying flying’ tourbillon that, thanks to its column construction, literally reaches up from the supporting structure to perform its hypnotic one-minute gyrations underneath your very eyes, almost grazing the domed glass. Another feminine touch is the large diamond sitting on the upper bridge of the tourbillon cage.
We had the black lacquer dial model for our hands-on time with the watch. The inky black lacquer provides a dynamic background for the animation on board the dial and recreates an outer-spacey-black-hole feel, very in tune with the philosophy of the brand. The small hours and minutes counter also features a lacquered dial (white or black depending on model) and is inclined at a 50º angle so that only the wearer can consult the time. Placing the dial at this odd angle posed challenges for MB&F’s watchmakers and conical gears – like those used in HM6 and HM9 Flow – were employed to transmit torque from one plane to another. The blued hands have also been given a feminine makeover and have adopted a squiggly, serpentine shape. The stone setting on the full-set models – either baguette or brilliant-cut diamonds- is spectacular and you can appreciate the way the diamonds hug the downward curve of the dial.
The solar motif – made from red gold, titanium and platinum – you can see on the caseback swings in time to the automatic rotor and hides most of the view on the movement, which is more than compensated for by the action on the dial. The movement of the Legacy Machine Flying T takes solutions from both the HM6 series and the HM7 Aquapod. Unlike most watch movements, the LM Flying T engine uses a vertical layout allowing the flying tourbillon to project boldly beyond the dial plate. An additional challenge was the shape of the upper tourbillon carriage with more mass on one side than the other. To compensate, a counterweight is hidden under the tourbillon carriage. Another very attractive feature is the four-day power reserve, one of the highest in MB&F’s portfolio.
We have to applaud Büsser for following his instincts and realising that more and more women enjoy and want mechanical complications but don’t necessarily want to sacrifice on the femininity quotient. The watch comes through on all fronts; it respects the quirky DNA of MB&F, it puts on a mesmerising show, and it is feminine without straying into preciousness and affectation. And although Büsser might disagree with us, the baguette-set model could work on a man’s wrist. Like a miniature mechanical sculpture, the use of volume and kinesis add a fascinating and unusual dimension to this watch that will not go by unnoticed.
As mentioned, the Legacy Machine Flying T will be launched in three versions, all in white gold and set with diamonds and presented on calfskin or alligator straps with an 18k white gold pin buckle, also set with diamonds. The black lacquer dial and case set with brilliant-cut diamonds that we reviewed in this article will retail for CHF 108,000 (excl. VAT), the fully set brilliant-cut diamonds model for CHF 135,000 (excl. VAT) and the full set baguette-cut diamonds model for CHF 298,000 (excl. VAT). More details at www.mbandf.com.