MB&F Introduces the LM Perpetual EVO

The sporty perpetual.

The most complicated MB&F watch when it was launched in 2015, the LM Perpetual (or LM QP) was powered by an ingenious movement combining a “split” escapement and a novel perpetual calendar mechanism developed by Irish watchmaker Stephen McDonnell. Now MB&F has reworked the watch to create its sportier and more robust successor, the LM Perpetual EVO.

Featuring several tweaks to the case, dial, and movement that are cumulatively significant, the LM Perpetual EVO boasts increased water resistance along with an integrated rubber strap.

The LM Perpetual EVO is a limited edition of 15 watches each in black, blue, and orange

Initial thoughts

Even though the Legacy Machine (LM) line was conceived as something inspired by the 19th century and Jules Verne, the LM Perpetual with its open-worked, intricate dial was always stylishly modern, though that was toned down by the white-lacquered sub-dials of the original model.

The EVO, however, makes full use of the open-worked dial to become an uber-contemporary watch. Both the material and construction of the case are new: it’s now zirconium with a more complicated architecture, featuring recessed sides and angular lugs that integrate with the strap. And the sub-dials are black, creating a striking contrast against the base plate in black, blue, or orange.

Most notably, the EVO brings to mind the Harry Winston Project Z1, which was the other major product developed by MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser when he was chief executive of Harry Winston Rare Timepieces, which continues to use Project Z case design today.

While the EVO isn’t the typical sci-fi MB&F watch, it manages to create a new look (or revive an old one) without diverging too much from the original LM QP – it is a successful evolution of a successful watch. Limited to 15 pieces in each colour – with the most striking being orange – the EVO is priced at US$167,000. That makes it one of the most expensive perpetual calendars on the market, but it is a rare blend of qualities: exuberant design, inventive mechanics, and excellent finishing.

The new case

Mechanically the EVO is identical to the LM QP. The movement was developed by Stephen McDonnell, a watchmaker little known outside the industry until his work for MB&F. Mr McDonnell reimagined the traditional construction of a perpetual calendar, creating a more reliable and user-friendly mechanism that is entirely visible on the dial under the extra-large balance wheel.

While the LM QP was offered in more common case metals like gold and titanium, the EVO case is in zirconium. A silvery metal that’s hypoallergenic and corrosion resistant, the metal has been used sparingly by MB&F in the past, namely for the HM3 and HM5, but it’s being used for the first time in the LM line.

But while the case material is interesting, the highlight is actually the design. The new case is smartly done, with both the aesthetics as well as functionality having been enhanced. The tiny buttons for the calendar on the original LM QP have now been replaced with larger, rectangular pushers, making calendar adjustment easier. But the pushers sit within the recessed case band, so they avoid looking like chronograph buttons and do not break up the lines of the case too much.

A less obvious change is the bezel, which is now completely disappeared. In a construction that is increasingly popular with watchmakers, the crystal is secured on the case middle, creating a panoramic view of the mechanics on the dial. A ring that acts as a shock absorber sits between the case and movement, and it also services as a visual border between the crystal and case.

Importantly for a sports watch, the EVO has a screw-down crown and water resistance of 80 m, which isn’t quite diver’s watch territory but more than enough for a highly-complicated and expensive sports watch.

Key Facts and Price

MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual EVO

Diameter: 44 mm
Height: 17.5 mm
Material: Zirconium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 80 m

Movement: Perpetual calendar movement developed by Stephen McDonnell
Functions: Hours, minutes, day, date, retrograde leap year, and power reserve indicator
Winding: Hand-wound
Frequency: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Rubber strap with titanium folding buckle

Limited edition: 15 piece in each black, blue, and orange
Availability: Already available at MB&F retailers and MAD Galleries
Price: US$167,000

For more, visit MBandF.com.


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Czapek and Arab Watch Club Introduce the Place Vendôme “Al Kanz”

A unique watch for charity.

A collaboration between Arab Watch Club and Czapek to create a one-off wristwatch that will benefit a good cause has reach fruition. Inlaid with an unusual green mineral, the Place Vendôme “Al Kanz” is decorated with engraved motifs inspired by Middle Eastern culture.

Al kanz, or أل كنز, is Arabic for “the treasure”, and the namesake watch will be exhibited in Dubai later this month before being sold at Christie’s online auction in November, with all proceeds going to the Emirates Foundation, a charity established by the government of Abu Dhabi.

Initial thoughts

One-off watches created for charity auctions make sense, since they benefit both the watchmaker and a worthy cause, which in this case is an organisation focused on youth in the region. The brainchild of Hassan Akhras, founder of Arab Watch Club (AWC), the Al Kanz is a thoughtful collaboration that has resulted in a striking watch.

The use of zoisite adds new colour to the watch, with the bright green mineral rings highlighting the architecture of the movement. In fact, the stock version of the Place Vendôme is a bit too plain, while this version is livened up just enough. Although the green and aubergine accents are striking, they are relatively restrained so the overall appearance remains classical and clean.

What’s new

The highlight of the Al Kanz is definitely the dial. The additional of colour and texture to the sub-dials immediately set it apart from the standard Place Vendôme models that are mostly clad in uniform colours. The key ingredient in the colour palette is the chapter ring for the 12 o’clock sub-dial, which is is made of zoisite. It’s a green mineral stone that is being used on a watch for the first time according to Czapek.

Note the Eastern Arabic numerals on the sub-dials

Inside the zoisite chapter ring is an aubergine centre that’s been hand engraved by Swiss engraver Michèle Rothen-Rebetez (who’s probably best known for her work with De Bethune) with a motif inspired by the geometric patterns commonly found in Islamic architecture. But unlike the chapter ring, the dial centre is not stone, despite the uncommon colour. Instead, it is a conventional brass dial with the colour achieved through electroplating.

And the psychedelic section sits just below, in the two rings for the lower sub-dials. Made of steel, the rings are treated with chemical vapour deposition (CVD) to create an iridescent, metallic finish.

A zoisite cabochon on the crown

Place Vendôme

Mechanically the watch is identical to the standard model, hand wound with a 60-hour power reserve. Though seemingly complicated at first glance, the dial is actually easy to read. The hours and minutes are at noon, while the second time zone is at the bottom right. The second time zone hand is fixed, and read against a rotating, 12-hour scale, in conjunction with the day and night indicator at six o’clock.

The SXH2 movement is also finished like the original, which means sand-blasted frosting on bridges on the front and back, along with a handful of decorative extras in the form of sharp outward angles in the bevelled edges of the bridges, although there are no sharp inward angles.

Key facts and price

Czapek Place Vendôme “Al Kanz”

Diameter: 43.5 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: Titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m
Dial: Chapter ring for time in Zoisite stone

Movement: SXH2
Functions: Hours, minutes, second time zone with day and night indicator, power reserve indicator, and tourbillon
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Winding: Hand wind
Power reserve: 60 hours

Strap: Alligator with titanium buckle

Limited edition: Unique piece
To be sold at Christie’s Geneva online watch auction taking place from November 5-19, 2020
Price: Unavailable

For more information, visit Christies.com.


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Grand Seiko Introduces the 60th Anniversary Hi-Beat SLGH003

Steel and powered by the 9SA5.

Grand Seiko has progressively introduced a diverse line up of watches to mark its 60th anniversary, ranging from a remake of the vintage 3180 to the heavily jewelled 8 Days to the T0 Constant Force Tourbillon, while also opening the Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi production facility. Now the brand has finally reached the last of it anniversary watches with the Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Caliber 9SA5 Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours SLGH003.

Although the 60th anniversary watches are numerous, the most significant was the Hi-Beat 80 Hours SLGH002, which was powered by the newly-developed 9SA5, the first of a new generation of movements that will underpin the Grand Seiko collection. The SLGH002 was available only in 18k yellow gold and correspondingly pricey, but now the movement is available in the all-steel SLGH003.

Initial thoughts

From the perspective of being a more affordable version of the yellow-gold SLGH002, the SLGH003 is appealing. It’s still an expensive watch – the retail price is US$9,700 – but a lot less than the US$43,000 of the gold model.

But from the perspective of it being one of several anniversary editions, many of which share the same dial colour, it is less appealing. That is especially so given that the 9SA5 movement will inevitably be made available in regular-production models that will probably cost a bit less.

So if the colour and design is a big draw, then the SLGH003 is a buy. If not, just wait for the next one.

Anniversary livery

The SLGH003 has the same blue and red palette as the other more affordable 60th anniversary watches, which means a metallic blue dial with a red seconds hand. In terms of design it is nearly identical to the SLGH002 in yellow gold, with the same wide hands and hour markers. The steel case is 40 mm by 11.7 mm high, a typical size for a Grand Seiko.

Although the case and bracelet are steel, the clasp is inlaid with an 18k yellow gold emblem, a detail specific to the anniversary watches. The other anniversary watches feature a gold medallion on the case back, which is not possibly on the SLGH003 because of its display back.

And the display back is necessary because of the 9SA5 movement. Representing the future of Grand Seiko calibres for a long time to come, the 9SA5 is a high-frequency movement running at 36,000 beats per hour, or 5 Hz, while boasting a longish, 80-hour power reserve.

The 9SA5 visible through the back of the SLGH003

More significantly, it has two key features conceived for more stable and precise timekeeping. The first is Grand Seiko’s patented Dual Impulse Escapement, which relies on both indirect and direct impulses on the pallet lever, as well as lighter, skeletonised parts produced by MEMS, a lithgraphy technique that deposits metal to form a shape, in order to operate at a much higher efficiency than a conventional escapement.

And the balance wheel is Grand Seiko’s own proprietary free-sprung design that features four recessed, adjustable weights for regulation, and is fitted to an overcoil hairspring.

Although the 9SA5 in the SLGH003 is mechanically identical to the movement in the all-gold SLGH002, it does away with the blued steel screws found on its gold counterpart.

The adjustable-mass balance wheel and Dual Impulse Escapement

Key facts and price

Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Caliber 9SA5 Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours
Ref. SLGH003

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 11.7 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. 9SA5
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 36,000 beats per hour (5 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 80 hours

Strap: Steel bracelet

Limited edition: 1,000 pieces
From December at Grand Seiko boutiques and retailers
Price: US$9,700; or 1 million Japanese yen

For more, visit Grand-seiko.com.


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