The MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual (or LM Perpetual) is one of those watches that can’t fail to impress. The most complicated watch in the MB&F collection to date, it relies on a surprisingly classical complication – the perpetual calendar. Somewhat unexpected in the line-up of MB&F’s habitual watches, it still managed to feel like a Büsser & Friends’ piece. First launched in red gold and platinum, followed by a white gold version, it is now time to go lightweight with the new LM Perpetual Titanium.
The Legacy Machine collection started in 2011 as an interesting mix of elements. While the Horological Machine (HM) collection is meant to be all about creativity and unorthodox displays, the LM watches are an ode to the past… But wait, this is MB&F we’re talking about. There has to be that “out-of-the-box” thinking. And indeed, there was. The LM watches are Büsser’s vision of what his watches might have looked like if he had been born 100 years ago, surrounded by Vernes and Eiffel, and not by Star Wars and supercars. It was a way to explore new territory, with a steampunk aesthetic, round cases and hands (yes, standard hands).
Don’t be fooled, the LM collection was – and still is – complex. Yet, the complexity lies in the construction of the movement – a floating balance wheel over the dial, or even two of them connected by a differential – not in the incorporation of a traditional complication. This was, at first, not what you would expect from MB&F. In 2016, the situation changed with the introduction of the LM Perpetual, a watch that featured if not the most classic, one of the most traditional complications you can think of: a quantième perpetuel. It was a bold move from the brand, as it clearly was a dramatic change of design and conceptual approach. The result was a watch that initially I had trouble to define, to understand, or to place in MB&F’s timeline. Everything changed the day we saw it in the metal. It certainly lacks the purity of the original LM watches, yet it is driven by the same concept and is compensated with a super technical content.
The LM Perpetual is the result of a development by Stephen McDonnell. Creating a perpetual calendar on an LM watch was, because of the floating balance, a real challenge. Indeed, the calendar indications are synchronised by a long lever (in French “grand levier“) running across the top of the complication and passing through the central axis of the hands. As the date changes, this long lever transmits information to the appropriate components and mechanisms by moving backwards and forwards. In the traditional grand levier system, perpetual calendars assume that, by default, all months have 31 days. At the end of months with less than 31 days, the mechanism quickly skips through the next dates before arriving at the 1st of the new month. Any manipulation or adjustment of the date during changeover can result in damage to the mechanism, requiring expensive repairs by the manufacturer.
The main issue on an LM watch is that the axis of the hour and minute hands is not in the centre. Because right in the centre of the watch is the pinion of the flying balance wheel that transmits its movement to the escapement. Thus, the use of a “grand levier” is impossible and the classical architecture has to be reimagined. The solution came from the brain of Stephen McDonnell who imagined a “mechanical processor“ via a series of superimposed disks. Instead of assuming that every month is composed of 31 days and skipping some when needed, this mechanical processor considers that all the months are 28 days – because, logically, all months have at least 28 days – and then adds the extra days as required by each individual month.
The result is a watch that is visually close to a traditional QP – sub-dials for the date, the day of the week, the month and the leap year – but that is still a “Legacy Machine” with its hallmark floating balance. The dial is fully skeletonised and very busy. This is a new approach in the LM collection, yet the result in the metal is simply stunning.
For 2018, the LM Perpetual will be available in a fourth edition – following the inaugural red gold and platinum editions, followed by the white gold edition. Just like the LM2 Titanium, the recipe is the same. The case is manufactured in grade 5 titanium – an alloy that can be mirror polished – with a polished bezel and brushed case bands. It might be a different material, but the design and shape is the same as other LM Perpetual versions. Like the LM2 Titanium, this new Legacy Machine Perpetual Ti features a blue-green, slightly iridescent dial. Of course, considering the number of technical parts and sub-dials on this watch, it is barely visible in our photos (much more in the metal, be reassured).
On the back, the movement remains the same – meaning as superbly decorated as it should be. Besides the technical achievement, with the floating balance – which has an escape wheel positioned on the other side of the movement – and the complex QP mechanism, this movement stands out (as on all the LM series) because of its decoration. Large polished bevels, complex shape of the bridges, bevelled wheel spokes, massive gold chatons… All the parts are meticulously decorated and executed. Nothing new on this side of the watch, the LM Perpetual Titanium uses the exact same movement, but still offers the same visual pleasure.
This new titanium edition of the MB&F LM Perpetual (which is pleasant to wear considering the material of the case) will be limited to 50 pieces, each priced at CHF 148,000 / USD 148,000 (before taxes). More details on mbandf.com.