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.
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 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.
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.
Key Facts and Price
MB&F Legacy Machine Split Escapement ‘Eddy Jaquet’
Diameter: 44.5 mm
Material: 18k red gold
Water resistance: 30m
Movement: LM SE movement, developed for MB&F by Stephen McDonnell
Functions: Hours, minutes, date, and power reserve indicator
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
For more, visit MBandF.com.
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