Six years have gone by since MB&F launched the Legacy Machine N°1 (LM1) series in 2011, establishing a collection of tradition-inflected Legacy Machines alongside the envelope-pushing Horological Machines. Six years is a blink of an eye in the history of watchmaking, but constitutes an entire generation of modern independent horology.
The Legacy Machine N°1 Final Edition brings the LM1 series to a close, and does so with the signature MB&F flair for the unexpected.
Convention dictates that you shouldn’t try and fix what ain’t broke — that products enjoying success and popularity should also get to enjoy longevity. The LM1 Final Edition overturns conventional thought by taking its last bow just as the Legacy Machine collection gains ever more acclaim and momentum.
Back in 2011, Legacy Machine N°1 debuted three unique technical features, two of which continue to set the LM1 series apart to this day. The cinematic balance, suspended from an arched bridge, is now an icon of the Legacy Machine collection. The two time displays, indicated on subtly convex dials of stretched lacquer, are based on a single movement and allow autonomous setting without reference to fixed time zones. Then there is the vertical power-reserve indicator, offering a strongly intuitive and legible reading of barrel wind.
These innovations, when coupled with the technical expertise of watchmaking veteran Jean-François Mojon and the peerless levels of finish specified by Kari Voutilainen, provided the framework for a fresh form of independent watchmaking. Traditional mechanisms were placed in modern configurations. Legacy Machine N°1 was a different way to be different.
In choosing a material to house this celebratory last outing of Legacy Machine N°1, MB&F picked steel over precious metals such as gold or platinum. The recent elevation of steel as a worthy case material for high-end watchmaking has a twofold outcome for the LM1 Final Edition — it echoes the strength and enduring appeal of the series, and it takes the value focus off the exterior elements to better highlight the beauty of the LM1 Engine.
The dark chocolate-toned face of the LM1 Final Edition is not the first instance of this colour appearing in an MB&F creation. Wherever and whenever it occurs in the MB&F collections, the deep brown hue signals a special occasion, a reason to break out the treats, and the Legacy Machine N°1 Final Edition is no exception to this rule. The launch of the last LM1 may be a bittersweet celebration for some — MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser pinpoints it at 85-percent dark chocolate — since the edition is limited to 18 pieces.
The LM1 Final Edition is limited to 18 pieces in stainless steel, with a dark chocolate-brown face.
THE LEGACY MACHINE N° 1 SERIES
In 2011, MB&F was in its sixth year and had by then established the Horological Machines as a cornerstone of the modern independent watchmaking movement. Audacious design and a willingness to pursue unconventional forms, sparked by 1970s science fiction — these elements wrote the genome of the Horological Machines, from the twin intersecting lobes of Horological Machine N°1 to the sky-cleaving symmetries of Horological Machine N°4, nicknamed “Thunderbolt”.
Legacy Machine N°1 was launched that year, opening up the second collection of MB&F, with its own distinct design philosophy. A round case, white lacquer dials with an enamel-like gloss, Roman numerals, classically finished movement plates and bridges decorated with Geneva stripes and mirror-bright polished chamfers.
MB&F took the familiar codes of traditional high watchmaking and used them to frame the disruptive new features of Legacy Machine N°1. The suspended balance, the independent time displays and the vertical power reserve were horological world firsts when they appeared in the LM1. Iconoclasts don’t always have to come in denim and black motorcycle jackets. The LM1 subverted conventions in a novel way — a rebel in a three-piece suit.
Over the last six years, MB&F will have produced a total of approximately 435 pieces of the Legacy Machine N°1, making it the most prolific ambassador of MB&F besides the emblematic Horological Machine N°3. The LM1 has appeared in red gold, white gold, platinum and titanium, in faces of blue, grey and green. As testament to its versatility of expression, it has spawned two Performance Art pieces, the term that MB&F reserves for its collaborations with artists.
The 2014 Legacy Machine N°1 Xia Hang replaced the vertical power reserve indicator with a micro-sculpture and simultaneously injected a shot of otherworldly whimsy into the collection. Alain Silberstein, who previously worked with MB&F in 2009 on their Horological Machine N°2.2 ‘Black Box’, returned to the scene for 2016’s LM1 Silberstein, with its electrifying play on colours and textures.
The Legacy Machine N°1 Final Edition makes the last outing of the series in steel, with a dark chocolate face, wearing the white lacquer dials, suspended balance and gracefully arched power reserve indication in their well-known configuration. A new balance bridge, cambered and tapered in the style MB&F introduced to audiences in the Legacy Machine 101, is the one departure from the original design and acknowledges the evolution and maturation of the Legacy Machine collection.
While Legacy Machine N°1 may be giving way to make room for a new generation of MB&F creations, its presence will continue to be felt throughout the collection for as long as the Legacy Machine story is told.
THE MB&F FINAL EDITIONS
Legacy Machine N°1 was the first series of the Legacy Machine collection and is now also the first in the collection to have a Final Edition. Prior to this, HM2, HM3, HM4 and HM5 received an edition that formally marked the end of series production.
Completing an MB&F series is a major strategic decision and is central to the belief in continual exploration and development that is held by everyone at MB&F. Only by ending production of existing pieces are Maximilian Büsser and his team able to go on to future challenges while keeping the creative spark and momentum that comes with a compact organisation.
Steel was chosen to house the Legacy Machine N°1 Final Edition, a precedent that may well distinguish any future MB&F Final Edition.
The balance bridge of the Legacy Machine N°1 Final Edition is new in the LM1 series. It follows the aesthetic code premiered in the Legacy Machine 101, which has since been propagated in the LM2 series via its titanium incarnation, and in the Legacy Machine Perpetual.
The original LM1 came about as a reanimation of 19th-century design, particularly in association with technological advances. The openworked balance bridge, with its sharply defined angles, echoed the girders and crossbeams of industrial structures showcased at the famous World’s Fairs of that era.
As the Legacy Machine collection grew into its own, its focus naturally shifted away from specific historical design references. A smoothly curved balance bridge with an elliptical cross section, milled from a single steel block and demonstrative of a high level of machining sophistication, was designed to fit the smaller proportions of the Legacy Machine 101.
Thereafter, it made its second appearance in the 2015 Legacy Machine Perpetual and again in the 2017 LM2 Titanium. The lithe, mirror polished arms of the redesigned balance bridge set it apart from the satin-finished bridge of the original LM1 — a small detail, seemingly, but one that magnifies the impact of the floating balance. The polished balance bridge clearly stands out against the sunray-finished base, cinematically emphasising the aerial poise and height of the balance.