MB&F’s new LM101 Editions Spark Remarkable Demand
written by James Malcolmson, photos provided by MB&F
It might be safe to say that if ever there was a sleeper watch in MB&F’s collection, it was the Legacy Machine 101. When it was launched in 2014, it was the most basic, affordable and modestly sized piece the brand had yet made. Being the first movement to be conceived and built in-house, it did not sport the usual high-profile collaborators, save Kari Voutilainen, who provided consultation on the bridge and decoration design.
This month’s release of three new versions of the LM101 shows exactly how much the status of the watch, and the profile of MB&F itself, has changed. Response to the piece has been overwhelming and our allocation of the production—for the next three years—is already almost completely reserved.
Why the change? It would seem that the recent attention on independent watchmaking, led in part by the auction world, has brought many new collectors to the brand. LM101’s qualities, which once may have been overshadowed by other, more flamboyant watches, now make it the most wearable and accessible piece in the collection.
Visually, LM101 is dominated by the monumental suspended balance wheel, which draws the eye ever closer. Two pristine-white subdials hover just above the fine sunray-engraved movement top plate. At the top right, highly legible hours and minutes are displayed by blued-gold hands contrasting against the immaculate white, while the 45-hour power reserve indicator is displayed in a smaller, but similar subdial below.
While the location of LM101's oscillator may be considered avant-garde, ‘tradition’ is upheld by the large 14mm diameter balance wheel, featuring regulating screws specifically developed for MB&F, balance spring with Breguet overcoil and mobile stud holder. The latest versions feature a double hairspring. While the movement was developed entirely in-house, acclaimed master watchmaker Kari Voutilainen assumed responsibility for ensuring the movement's historical accuracy of the bridge design and fine finishing.
A finely engraved sun-ray pattern on top of the movement plate (dial side) subtly catches the eye at certain angles without distracting attention from the white dials of the time and power reserve indications and suspended floating balance. But it is in the style and finish of the bridges and plates visible through the display on the back of the movement where Kari Voutilainen has excelled in providing exquisite historical fidelity in both the shape of elegantly curved bridges and the traditionally wide space between the bridges and between the perimeter of the bridges and the case.
In an apparent feat of magic, the sapphire crystal protecting the dial appears to be invisible; creating the illusion that you can reach out and touch the prodigious balance wheel hanging from twin arches. The arches are milled from a solid block of metal and require many hours of hand polishing to achieve their mirror-like lustre.
Turning over Legacy Machine 101, the display back crystal – domed to reduce the thickness of the caseband and, visually, the height of the watch – reveals the exquisitely hand-finished movement. Sensually curved plates and bridges pay homage to the style found in high quality historic pocket watches and testify to the respect accorded to historical legitimacy.
The three editions: white gold with a purple dial ($68,000); Rose gold with a royal blue dial ($68,000) and stainless steel with a light blue dial ($56,000) are virtually identical to previous versions. Subtle technical alterations include changes to the dial area and the inclusion of a double hairspring on the balance wheel.
The new LM101 is not a limited edition per se, but like a number of the brand’s recent pieces, production is limited from year to year. Please contact us for information on when the next pieces will be available, and we will do our best to find you the best possible position on the list and match you with the edition you desire.