Up Close with the MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT

The first true women’s watch from Max Büsser and friends.
MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT

Having spent most of its decade-long existence creating epic contraptions that borrow from a gamut of boys’ toys and sci-fi, MB&F is finally rolling out a watch created from the ground up for the fairer sex – the Legacy Machine FlyingT. While the target audience isn’t the usual, the LM FlyingT still textbook MB&F, combining sculptural mechanics and novel design.

Four years in the making, the LM FlyingT features a central, flying tourbillon sitting high up under a massive, domed sapphire crystal. And because it was conceived as a lady’s watch from the get-go, the FlyingT is more compact than elegant than earlier MB&F watches for ladies that were essentially men’s watches set with precious stones.

MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT 4

Designed by MB&F’s longstanding designer Eric Giroud, the FlyingT abides by a recurring element of the Legacy Machine series, with the hours and minutes displayed on a white lacquered sub-dial, but for the first time matched with elegant serpentine hands in blue-coated solid gold.

However, the FlyingT is the first tourbillon in the Legacy Machine line, and much like the more exotic HM6 and HM7, the FlyingT features a tourbillon executed in the most theatrical way possible, explaining the model name. In fact, it can be seen as a stripped back version of the HM7 Aquapod, with the round case and bulbous crystal serving to emphasise and elevate the tourbillon regulator.

The FlyingT has a 38.5mm white gold case set diamonds (either brilliant- or baguette-cut, depending on the version). The case is fitted with a dramatically domed sapphire crystal that measures 20mm at its highest – meaning the case is half as high as it is wide.

Though the diameter makes the FlyingT the smallest MB&F watch to date by quite some margin, the FlyingT still has impressive presence thanks to its height and gemstones.

MBF LM FlyingT watch 4

Despite its bulbous profile, the FlyingT sits elegantly on the wrist thanks to its narrow case band and slim, gently curved lugs. The construction of the movement – essentially construction like a column with a wide and flat base – means the height of the watch is camouflaged by the thin case band and domed case back.

Like many other MB&F watches, the case has two crowns: one on the left for winding, and another on the right for time-setting. Though the crowns are recessed into the case band, they evoke a pair of ears and don’t quite fit in with the elegant and glamorous styling.

(NB: Pictured is a prototype with bare crowns; the crowns on the finished watch are each set with 13 brilliant-cut diamonds.)

Flying tourbillon

At the centre of the dial – either in black lacquer or set with diamonds to match the case – is a one-minute flying tourbillon beating at the relatively sedate frequency of 2.5Hz, or 18,000 beats per hour.

Like the HM7, the movement has vertical architecture, with the crucial sections of the movement – winding mechanism and rotor, barrel, gear train – stacked up like an irregular spiral staircase that culminates in the tourbillon. The flying tourbillon sits so high up it brings a new meaning to the label.

MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT 5

A deliberate asymmetry has been incorporated throughout the dial, starting with the tourbillon.

Instead of the brand’s signature battle axe shape, the tourbillon cage takes the form of a “V”, just like the balance bridges on the other Legacy Machine watches. A counterweight had to be incorporated into the lower cage, opposite to the upper cage, to ensure stability of the entire construction.

And to give the mechanics a bit of bling, the upper cage is topped by a large brilliant that rotates with the tourbillon.

MBF LM FlyingT watch 3

The time display is decidedly asymmetrical, with the sub-dial for the time sitting at seven o’clock, and raised to a 50-degree angle from the horizontal for greater readability. In fact, the off-centre, inclined sub-dial makes this a driver’s watch of sorts, which is a favourite style of MB&F’s Horological Machine range of watches.

While visually simple, the inclined dial adds a good deal of complexity to the time display as it necessitates the use of bevel gears – conical wheels that mesh at an angle – in order to transmit torque from the horizontal plane of the barrel and gear train to the inclined plane of the sub-dial.

MBF LM FlyingT watch 1

The position of the sub-dial, combined with the rotating tourbillon, leaves the impression that the dial is an orbital display, but the sub-dial is, of course, stationary. It does feel like it wants to move, and perhaps might in future variations of the FlyingT.

A sun rising from the back

The view from the back is striking and surprising. Instead of the well used battle axe-style rotor, the FlyingT is fitted with an oscillating weight in the form of a radiant, stylised sun cast in relief and made of solid 18k red gold with a centre of platinum.

MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT 6

The movement has a 100 hour power reserve, which is about four days, one of the longest amongst MB&F watches. In all, the FlyingT movement comprises a total of 280 components with 30 jewels.

MBF LM FlyingT watch 2

Like many recent MB&F calibres, the FlyingT was developed in-house by MB&F’s own constructors, although the brand relied on its usual partners for most of the components, as is tradition.

Concluding thoughts

The FlyingT smartly avoids the pitfall of most complicated lady’s watches: looking like a smaller version of a man’s watch that’s been set with diamonds. Like the Poetic Complications from Van Cleef & Arpels, the FlyingT is convincing as a lady’s wristwatch. It is also sleek and striking (save for the twin crown “ears”).

But it is also least like any other MB&F watch; even the resemblance to its Legacy Machine siblings is passing and needs some examination to uncover. That’s either a strength or weakness, though if the FlyingT is the first of a series, then the former is more likely.

And last of all is the price, which is about US$107,000 for the base model. It’s a lot of money but relatively modest as such watches go. With comparable men’s watches with tourbillons and without diamonds usually priced in the same ballpark, and often much more, the FlyingT is a competitively priced.

MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT 2

Price and Availability

The FlyingT is available in three versions, starting with the entry black lacquer edition that has a black dial and a case set with about 1.7 carats of diamonds.

Next is the paved diamond version, set with 3.5 carats of diamonds on the case, dial and buckle.

And then there’s the baguette diamond model that boasts 8.2 carats of baguette-cut diamonds.

MBF LM FlyingT versions

From left: baguette, black lacquer and pavé

The LM FlyingT with a black lacquer dial costs 108,000 Swiss francs, and in pavé diamonds, 135,000 Swiss francs. And the top of the line model set with baguette-cut diamonds is 298,000 Swiss francs. Prices are before any taxes.


 

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Introducing the Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition

A new gold alloy and a hand-wound Master Chronometer movement.
Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 Anniversary Limited Edition 8

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission that landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon, Omega has faithfully remade – with several improvements – the solid gold Speedmaster ref. 145.022, sometimes known as the “Nixon” Speedmaster. The original was launched in 1969 to celebrate the Moon landing, becoming both the first (of many) limited editions Speedmasters and also the first, and definitive, Speedmaster in solid gold.

The model was produced from 1969 till 1973 in relatively small numbers – just 1014 examples were made. Thirty three were given to significant figures in the administration of the day, including President Richard Nixon and his Vice-President Spiro Agnew – who both had to decline the watches for compliance reasons – as well as astronauts, Swiss politicians and watch industry leaders, while the remaining watches were made available to the public.

Lens Position: 2455

This is the first of several Speedmaster special and limited editions to mark the Moon landing, including, rumour has it, a two-tone, steel and gold model equipped with the same cal. 3861. Visually, the remake is spot-on.

The case remains 42mm wide, with the same asymmetrical case band, twisted, “lyre” lugs, and importantly, the burgundy bezel insert. Not only is the new remake a dead ringer for the original, the Speedmaster Apollo 11 Anniversary edition will also be produced in a limited edition of 1014.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 Anniversary Limited Edition 7

But the visual similarities belie significant upgrades inside and out. Firstly, the case is in a newly developed, proprietary 18k gold alloy, Moonshine Gold, a slightly paler, or less yellow, than traditional yellow gold. Used for the case, bracelet, dial, hour markers and hands, the alloy retains its polish and colour better over time thanks to the inclusion of palladium.

The dial is marked “Au750” just under 12 o’clock, as well as “OM” at six, short for or massif, or “solid gold”. And just like the original, it features oblong gold hour markers inlaid with black onyx.

One of the most notable differences between this and the original are the hands: while they were entirely covered in lacquer on the original, the hour and minutes hands on the remake are filled with a narrow strip of black lacquer, although the central seconds remains entirely black.

As on the original, the dial is marked “OM” at its bottom, short for “or massif”, French for “solid gold”.

Whereas on the original the bezel insert was anodised aluminium, the burgundy insert on the remake is ceramic with the markings of its tachymeter scale engraved and filled in Ceragold. As on vintage Speedmasters, the bezel has a coveted “dot over 90”, with the marking for “90” on the scale over rather than beside the number, one of the defining feature of pre-1970 watches.

But arguably the biggest improvement is what’s inside the watch, and visible through the sapphire case back: the brand new cal. 3861. It’s derived from the Lemania-based cal. 861 that’s been used in the Moon Watch since 1969 and little changed since then.

The cal. 3861 marks the biggest revamp of the movement since then, and it is major. The calibre remains hand-wound, but is now a METAS-certified Master Chronometer movement, thanks to all the features inside. It boasts a free-sprung balance wheel, lubrication-free Co-Axial escapement, and a Si14 silicon hairspring. The components of the escapement are also made from patented alloys, giving the movement magnetism resistance of over 15,000 Gauss.

And the bridges and base plate of the cal. 3861 are plated in Moonshine Gold, the same alloy used for the case, dial and bracelet.

Omega-Speedmaster-Apollo-11-Anniversary-Limited-Edition-10

The movement is framed by a ring on the edge of the sapphire crystal, created via two PVD colour treatments on the underside with commemorative text, and a partial globe showing the Americas, as well as the Moon. Notably, both the Moon and globe are in exactly the same proportions to each other as they are in real life.

The attention to vintage detail also extends to the bracelet, which has a grooved clasp and an applied vintage Omega logo. More surprisingly, the box is inspired by the Moon crater paper box of the original, but now made of grey ceramic panels that have been 3D printed to replicate the lunar surface. Rounding things out, the top panel is printed with the image of the Sea of Tranquillity, where the astronauts first set foot on the moon.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th gold comparison 2

The remake (left) and the original from 1969

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th gold comparison 1

Comparing the backs, with the dedication engraved on no. 1 of the original series

Price and Availability

The Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 Anniversary Limited Edition (ref. 310.60.42.50.99.001) is limited to 1014 pieces, priced at SFr32,000.


 

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Introducing the Breitling Aviator 8 Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Collection

A tribute to the WWII fighter plane.
Aviator 8 Curtiss Warhawk Editions

Following the well received Navitimer 1 Airline Editions that are a nod to the golden age of commercial aviation, Breitling is turning to the military history for its next capsule collection: the Aviator 8 Curtiss P-40 Warhawk trio inspired by the second world war American fighter aircraft.

The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was a workhorse flown by the Allied air forces, mainly in Asia and Africa, most famously by the First American Volunteer Group of the Chinese air force, better known as the “Flying Tigers”, a unit made up of American volunteer airmen.

Hells_Angels,_Flying_Tigers_1942_p40_warhawk

The Hell’s Angels, the 3rd Squadron of the “Flying Tigers”, taken by pilot R.T. Smith in 1942. Photo – San Diego Air and Space Museum

The P-40 Warhawks operated by the “Flying Tigers” were painted olive green with a shark face on the nose, which is exactly the palette applied to the Breitling capsule collection.

The three Aviator 8 watches feature matte green dials with red and white accents, as well as olive canvas straps, giving them a distinct retro-military look. Each of the three share the same specs as the equivalent models in the Navitimer 8 collection.


Headlining the collection is the Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk that’s powered by the in-house B01 movement.

Measuring 43mm in diameter, it features contrast-colour chronograph counters in a “bi-compax” layout, a signature feature of all models powered by the B01.

The movement is well regarded for its solid construction, and like many modern chronograph movements it features both a column wheel and vertical clutch.

Caseback of the Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk

The sapphire caseback is printed with an image of the shark-faced “Flying Tigers” and the historical Curtiss logo.


Next is the more affordable chronograph in the line-up, the Aviator 8 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk, which is equipped with a Valjoux 7750. It has a green dial with tone-on-tone sub-dials, the distinguishing feature of Breitling watches powered by the robust and economical 7750.

Aviator 8 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk with military green dial and strap

Caseback of the Aviator 8 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk

It is has a stainless steel case that measures 43mm in diameter, with a solid case back likewise decorated with a P-40 and Curtiss logo.


The last watch is the entry-level Aviator 8 Automatic 41 Curtiss Warhawk, a straightforward watch with the time and date.

It measures 41mm in diameter and is the only watch in the collection with a DLC-coated stainless steel case, which suits the military green livery perfectly.

Caseback of the Aviator 8 Automatic 41 Curtiss Warhawk

Inside is the Breitling Calibre 17, which is actually an ETA 2824, again hidden under a display back.

Price and availability

The Aviator 8 Curtiss P-40 Warhawk watches are already at Breitling retailers and boutiques, priced as follows:

Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk (ref. AB01192A1L1X1) – US$7710, or 10,750 Singapore dollars

Aviator 8 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk (ref. A133161A1L1X1) – US$5565, or 7800 Singapore dollars

Aviator 8 Automatic 41 Curtiss Warhawk (ref. M173152A1L1X1) – US$4230, or 5850 Singapore dollars


Correction March 12, 2019: The B01 model has a “bi-compax” layout, and not “tri-compax” as stated in an earlier version of the article.

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