Tue. Jan 31st, 2023

At this week’s Geneva Watch Days event in Switzerland, MB&F unveiled a striking pair of Legacy Machine Split Escapement EVOs, fusing the technical wizardry of its Split Escapement movement with the brand’s sporty EVO case.

Until now, the Legacy Machine Split Escapement (LM SE) was paired with the classically round Legacy Machine case. But the rugged EVO case, which debuted in 2020’s LM Perpetual EVO, answers the seemingly unquenchable demand for sport watches. And it’s ready for action with water resistance down to 80 meters (270 feet), a screw-down crown, an integrated rubber strap and a minimalist, bezel-free design. Inside the 44-mm grade 5 titanium case, the movement is suspended with a monobloc shock-absorbing FlexRing system, endowing it with enhanced shock resistance for movers and shakers.

The watch’s namesake split escapement was developed for the LM Perpetual, which debuted in 2015. That piece was designed and conceived by Northern Irish master watchmaker Stephen McDonnell. “This man, who is a theology scholar from Oxford and has never gone to watchmaking school, singlehandedly created the incredible revolution of the perpetual calendar over five years,” said MB&F’s founder, Maximilian Büsser, during a recent video call.

McDonnell established two criteria for his groundbreaking perpetual calendar: Make it fool-proof and display MB&F’s signature flying balance wheel in the center of the dial. While this approach worked for simpler Legacy Machines with the balance wheel on the front along with the escapement, there simply wasn’t room for both with the more complex perpetual calendar display.

McDonnell’s solution was to create the world’s longest balance staff that would traverse the entire movement, leaving the large balance wheel on its own on the front of the watch and moving the remaining parts of the escapement—the anchor and escape wheel—to the opposite side of the movement, almost 12 mm below.

In 2017, MB&F decided to shine the spotlight on this innovation with the LM Split Escapement (LM SE), powered by a manual-winding, 298-component movement driven by double barrels providing 72 hours of power reserve. It’s also equipped with a user-friendly, foolproof rapid date-changing system that prevents accidental damage to the movement when adjusting the date.

Last December, MB&F produced a 10-piece special edition LM SE in the EVO case to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the UAE, where Büsser and his family have lived for years. To give it a twist, MB&F dramatically changed the aesthetic by rotating the entire mechanism clockwise by 30 degrees, so the crown is positioned at 4:30 instead of 2 o’clock.

This week, MB&F followed up with two new LM SE EVO editions (US$80,000). The first in grade 5 titanium has a frosty personality with an ice blue base plate complemented by a slate gray dial and open counters. A special dark treatment on the movement side heightens the visual contrast between the wheels, the rhodium-plated barrels and the rose gold details.

The second debut is the first of a series of limited editions that will be reserved exclusively for the brand’s new retail concept, MB&F LAB. “We’re creating a hybrid concept—a mini M.A.D.Gallery with much less art,” said Büsser, explaining the latest evolution of his mechanical art galleries. Starting in September, MB&F LABs will roll out in Paris with Chronopassion, in Singapore at Raffles and in Beverly Hills with Westime, which has been an MB&F partner from the start.

Limited to 25 pieces, the Beverly Hills edition of the LM SE EVO was designed in Westime’s signature colors of blue and black with a striking black base plate combined with a metallic blue dial appointed with open counters. It will be exclusively available at the Beverly Hills MB&F LAB on Rodeo Drive, which is scheduled to open in October.

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