MB&F Introduces the LM Split Escapement ‘Eddy Jaquet’

Illustrated with Jules Verne.

Conceived as an imagined, 19th-century take on MB&F’s uber-modern, sci-fi inspired Horological Machines, the Legacy Machines (LM) draw inspiration from the aesthetic of the era – and the works of Jules Verne – to create a steampunk-meets-classical-watchmaking timepiece. Now the spirit of the LM have been made tangible with the LM Split Escapement ‘Eddy Jaquet’

The series is limited to just eight watches in red gold, each featuring a dial depicting a scene from Verne’s novels, rendered in minute detail with the hand engraving of Eddy Jaquet, a Swiss artisan who has worked with an array of watchmakers but perhaps best known for his work on Voutilainen watches.

Initial thoughts

The new LM Split Escapement (SE) is a departure from the typical MB&F watch, which usually emphasises technical aspects, like movement construction or finishing, or case design and materials (and occasionally collaborations with contemporary artists). Instead the new LM SE is all about artisanal craft, something that is familiar territory for independent watchmakers like Voutilainen but novel for MB&F.

Though such artistically decorated timepieces are not a traditional strength of MB&F, the result is an attractive watch. The engraving is impressively done, and avoids appearing monochromatic thanks to its depth. The intricate, pictorial engraving also complements the style of the LM, making the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

In fact, it can be argued that the original LM SE was a bit plain – being something of a simplified LM Perpetual – and this is the ideal execution that makes full use of the space on the dial that was vacated by the perpetual mechanism.

Even though the execution of the watch is undoubtedly top quality, this puts MB&F in a segment where it doesn’t typically compete. The competition is tough: a Voutilainen engraved by Mr Jaquet is probably the easier choice for a collector who wants an elaborately engraved, finely finished watch.

The Dial

The defining feature of the LM is the expressive, architectural balance bridge. Curved and beautifully finished, the steel bridge towers over the dial. It’s a perfect fit for the hand-engraved dial, almost resembling a machine hovering over a 19th century city in a Jules Verne tale.

The reason for the oversized balance bridge is lies in the name of the watch: Split Escapement. Derived from the movement in the LM Perpetual, the Split Escapement separates the balance and escapement onto two different planes – balance on the dial and escapement on the back – via an elongated balance staff.

The highlight of the Eddy Jaquet edition is the dial. Having long done work for MB&F, Mr Jaquet was responsible for engraving the text on various MB&F movements. Now his talents have been more fully utilised across the entire dial.

After perusing several dozen Jules Verne stories, Mr Jaquet selected eight, using each as the basis for a dial illustration. Each dial incorporates elements unique to each story, like sea monsters and volcanoes for Journey to the Center of the Earth, gently reimagined by Mr Jaquet.

Mr Jaquet’s sketches for the eight dials

The entire dial is hand engraved by Mr Jaquet, who used an electroplating pen to darken certain areas, creating shading and tone for visual depth. According to MB&F, one of the challenges in engraving the dials was the uneven thickness of the plates – some recessed areas are delicately thin – posing the risk of puncturing the plate during the process. 

The dial inspired by ‘Michael Strogoff: The Courier of the Czar’

Though the dial layout is identical to the standard model, the Eddy Jaquet edition has its power reserve and date sub-dials skeletonised to reveal the engraving underneath

The sea monster next to the eye of a needle

A fallen soldier on the ‘Michael Strogoff’ dial

Key Facts and Price

MB&F Legacy Machine Split Escapement ‘Eddy Jaquet’

Diameter: 44.5 mm
Height: 18.2mm
Material: 18k red gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30m

Movement: LM SE movement, developed for MB&F by Stephen McDonnell
Functions: Hours, minutes, date, and power reserve indicator
Winding: Hand-wound
Frequency: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Alligator with folding buckle

Limited edition: Eight pieces, each unique
Availability: Sold out according to MB&F
Price: US$162,000

For more, visit MBandF.com.


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Raketa Introduces the Big Zero Malevich

Abstract art in mineral stone.

Having been reenergised with some Swiss marketing savvy, Russian watchmaker Raketa has revived some of its Soviet-era classics and now debuts the striking Big Zero Malevich.

The Big Zero Malevich reproduces one of the artist’s most famous works with tiny pieces of mineral stone, creating a stark, geometric mosaic on the dial. Created in partnership with the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Big Zero Malevich is a limited edition of 300 watches, with a portion of the proceeds from its sale going to the museum.

Initial thoughts

Art rarely translates well onto a watch dial, especially for an affordable price, but the Big Zero Malevich manages to pull it off. It appeals visually, but also in terms of materials – the dial is not just printed but instead a mineral stone mosaic.

As an aside, shorter hands would have maximised the impact of the black square on the dial – the hands would blend into the square entirely – but that would have made legibility impossible.

The only downside is the simple case and no-frills movement, but with a price tag of a little over US$1,400, the Big Zero Malevich is priced well.

Abstract mosaic

A watch brand owned by the Petrodvorets Watch Factory, which has its origins in 18th century Tsarist Russia, Raketa is now owned by English and French investors who recruited former Jaquet Droz chief executive Manuel Emch as a consultant. An industry veteran who’s an art collector himself, Mr Emch is no doubt responsible for the tie up with Tretyakov Gallery.

Located in Moscow, the Tretyakov Gallery is the country’s most important museum for Russian art. And amongst Russian artists, Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935) is one of the most influential widely influential. His abstract work has enjoyed both critical and commercial acclaim; his Suprematist Composition sold for US$85.8 million including fees in 2018.

Perhaps his most iconic work is Black Square, a painting of a, well, black square that is hanging in the Tretyakov Gallery. The dial of the Big Zero Malevich reproduces Black Square as a mosaic made of three mineral stones – black jade, white jade, and violane – creating a striking, geometric face.

Dial aside, the Big Zero Malevich is a straightforward watch. The case is steel and 38.8 mm in diameter, while the movement is the Raketa cal. 2615. Although it’s been dressed up, it is a Soviet-era automatic movement at heart and looks the part. And it runs at 18,000 beats per hour, below the industry norm of 28,800 beats per hour.

That said, it is an acceptable movement for what this watch costs, although the package would be more appealing hidden behind a solid case back.

Key Facts and Price

Raketa Big Zero Malevich

Diameter: 38.8 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: Steel
Crystal: Mineral glass
Water resistance: 100 m
Dial: Black jade, white jade, and violane

Movement: Cal. 2615
Functions: Hours and minutes
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 40 hours

Strap: Leather with pin buckle

Limited edition: 300 pieces 
: Direct from Raketa or the gift shop of the State Tretyakov Gallery
Price: €1,208 excluding taxes

For more information, visit Raketa.com.


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Ralph Lauren Introduces The Polo Watch

A properly mechanical, "fashion" watch.

One of the 20th century’s most enduring fashion emblems, the mallet-wielding polo player has been synonymous with Ralph Lauren since the 1970s. Found on everything from polo shirts to furniture – which admitted makes it excessively common – the logo now makes its debut on the Ralph Lauren Polo Watch.

Because Ralph Lauren’s watch division is run by Guillaume Tetu, cofounder of independent watch brand Hautlence, the Polo Watch is an affordable mechanical watch, rather than a quartz watch with a logo. Automatic and Swiss made, the Polo Watch has the polo player on the dial printed in several layers of lacquer for a more three-dimensional result.

Initial thoughts

Having grown up in the 1990s when the polo-player shirt was something of a fad, this watch does have some nineties nostalgia to it. And despite appearances to the contrary, it is a proper watch with a solid automatic movement inside.

Mr Tetu stated the goal was to make it proper mechanical watch rather than a “fashion” watch, and he succeeded; the Polo Watch appears to be as well put together as other watches in the US$2,000 price segment.

It’s executed simply, but sufficiently well. Probably most attention was paid to the polo player on the dial, the visual focus of the watch. The polo player is printed with a good level of detail – Mr Tetu says the figure is meant of have the appeal of a miniature painting – and succeeds in seemingly being on the dial rather than part of its surface.

The only shortcoming appears to be the short hands, no pun intended. The minute hand in particular falls short of the minute track, although the seconds hand is correctly sized.

Simple but effective

All of the elements of the watch are straightforward. Simple in form, the case is steel, measuring 42 mm and a little over 12 mm high. But it still includes touches like the brushed finish on the notched edge of the bezel.

Inside is a Sellita SW200-1, a clone of the ETA 2824 that’s dependable and widely used in more affordable watches. The movement has been dressed up slightly with striping on the rotor, as well as black-coated screws to match the lettering on the rotor.

Key Facts and Price

Ralph Lauren The Polo Watch
Ref. 472836828001 (black with black dial)
Ref. 472836827001 (steel with black dial)
Ref. 472836826003 (steel with green dial)

Diameter: 42 mm
Thickness: 12.35 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: RL200 (Sellita SW200-1)
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Fabric or leather strap; leather NATO-style strap; or metal bracelet

Availability: Now at Ralph Lauren boutiques
Price: Steel on strap – US$1,650 (or 2,380 Singapore dollars); steel on bracelet – US$1,750 (or 2,530 Singapore dollars)

For more, visit Ralphlauren.com.


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