The classical take on the iconoclastic brand’s sci-fi adventurism started out as proof of horological credentials, but now exists as an icon in itself
By Alex Doak
The wristwatch. A flat circle with hands pointing to the hours, minutes and seconds, right? Anything but, if Maximilian Büsser has anything to do with it. In this man’s eyes, the time is merely the destination – it’s all about the journey. His “& Friends” MB&F enterprise has in the short space of 12 years, redefined how you display the time, how you read the time and even how you run a watch company.
What was especially jarring for the Swiss establishment was the form that Büsser’s watches adopted. It was rare you’d find such exquisitely engineered contraptions more at home in the pages of sci-fi comics than the dusty confines of a collector’s display cabinet.
Indeed, it was this disconnect from true horology’s recognisable form and the industry’s refusal to respect MB&F’s craft that led Büsser to release a more traditional-looking piece five years ago: the Legacy Machine N°1. With the LM1, his naysayers could compare like for like. Especially as it was designed and fine-finished by watchmaker’s watchmakers, Kari Voutilainen and Jean-François Mojon.
“Up until LM1, we weren’t talking the same language as the rest of the industry,” says Büsser. “Now everyone can make comparisons. People understand that MB&F stands for the most amazing engineering and highest quality and finishing.”
In true form, defying its inherent tradition, the LM series has evolved from the original LM1’s dual-time-zone incarnation, whilst maintaining that bold, overarching balance bridge as a key signifier, from the pared-back, time-only LM101, via the dual-balance LM2 to 2015’s masterpiece Perpetual Calendar, designed with Bremont’s new technical guru, Stephen McDonnell.
But while LM1 itself evolves rather less dramatically than its cousins, that MB&F playfulness we’ve come to love continues to get a look-in. A playfulness that reached its apogee in 2016 with Alain Silberstein’s colour-spiked update or, rather more eccentrically, a version made with Chinese artist Xia Hang back in 2014, whose protruding “up/down” power reserve stalk is replaced by Hang’s trademark nodding alien.
The Final Edition
And now, this year MB&F has called time on the Legacy Machine. Over the six years, 435 of them have been produced (including the 18 Final Edition models), making it one of the brand’s most prolific lines, alongside the HM3. It bows out with its head held high – before its time, you might argue.
And in true MB&F style, the Final Edition continues to develop the Legacy Machine idea even as it is being ushered out of the door. There is a new balance bridge, cambered and tapered to match those of the LM101 and LM Perpetual. The dial is a new shade for the brand – a dark brown, described as “85 per cent dark chocolate”. No Swiss chocolate was provided by means of a comparison, but it seems about right.
In a move that will doubtless interest collectors, the LM Final Edition will be cased in stainless steel – something that has only happened once before. MB&F hints that it is establishing a pattern here, saying that future final editions will also come in steel. The LM Final Edition will be priced at CHF 79,000 +VAT.
This is part of our Modern Classics series, profiling the most significant watch designs of the last 30 years. You can view the rest of the entries here. Disagree with our choices? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook or by email.