MB&F: Legacy Machine Split Escapement11 October 2017
There is one technical constant that defines every single watch in the MB&F Legacy Machine collection. Functions may vary, and different complications come to the fore in each edition, but the suspended balance wheel remains literally and metaphorically above everything else. In Legacy Machine Split Escapement, this feature is not only highlighted, but raised to another level of achievement.
Just below the highest point of the domed dial crystal, the balance of LM SE beats at a sedate, traditional 2.5Hz / 18,000bph. What is rather less traditional is its construction. Unlike most of the other suspended balances in the Legacy Machine collection “indeed, unlike any other balance outside of MB&F” the balance of LM Split Escapement seems to oscillate on its own, without any visible intake of energy. The essential remaining parts of the escapement, which provide the driving impulse “anchor and escape wheel” are concealed on the opposite side of the movement, almost 12 mm below; hence the name ‘Split Escapement’.
Under the balance, the triple-dial design of LM SE gives the time at 12 o’clock, the power reserve indication at 4 o’clock and the date at 8 o’clock. The date can be quickly and easily adjusted thanks to a push-button on the side of the case, next to the date dial.
Other design features are natural evolutions of those found in previous Legacy Machines, such as the organically arched balance bridge found in the LM Perpetual. More visibly, LM SE features the micro-textured “frosted” finish that is so closely associated with antique pocket watches of the 18th and 19th century; this traditional technique was presented by MB&F for the first time in the LM 101 ‘Frost’ editions. Since the inspiration of the Legacy Machine collection lies in the era of frosted movements, smooth round watches and glossy white dials, it was only a matter of time before the frosted finish made another appearance at MB&F.
Antique watches featuring a frosted finish used acid baths to achieve this effect, but modern methods of replicating a frosted finish involves manually burnishing a metal surface with a wire brush. LM Split Escapement is a celebration of this technique, which is executed completely by hand for all 72 pieces of the launch editions.
The full beauty of frosting is brought out in Legacy Machine Split Escapement, with four launch editions in white gold. Each edition, limited to 18 pieces, is distinguished by frosting and movement finish of a different shade, which allows LM SE to embody varying aspects of its personality:
- Blue frosted finish paired with rhodium-plated movement for the most classically elegant version.
- Ruthenium frosting with similarly darkened movement evoking new-millennial functionality and putting the focus on the white lacquer dials.
- Red gold frosting and movement conveying warmth and accessibility, its subtle roseate sheen emphasising the intense hue of the blued hands.
- Yellow-gold frosting and movement finish: the strongest aesthetic affinity with the era inspiring the Legacy Machine collection, an era that defined the precepts of modern watchmaking.
The retail price of the Legacy Machine Split Escapement is 79’000 CHF + TAX.
By Jacopo Corvo