MB&F will close the chapter on the Legacy Machine No. 1 watch with the 2017 MB&F LM1 Final Edition. This “last of the collection” limited-edition LM1 will be offered with a “chocolate brown” dial matched to a steel case. This is the first time the MB&F Legacy Machine 1 watch has been offered in steel.
It feels like a long time ago that MB&F introduced the then rather disruptive LM1 watch (here in 2011). That year marked a major shift for the brand as they transitioned from being exclusively about “Horological Machine” watches set in modern times to also including “Legacy Machine” watches inspired by more classic themes. Since then, MB&F has also diversified by including many clocks into their product portfolio, as well more generally the MB&F MAD Gallery stores now open in at least three cities around the world.
While the MB&F LM1 watch was controversial when it was released, for many people it was “the first MB&F I want to wear.” This makes sense since the MB&F LM1, with its elegant dial and round case, was actually the most traditional MB&F ever made. It allowed people who respected the brand for their quality and personality to enjoy something that matched a more traditional watch taste profile a bit better. Thus, while the MB&F Legacy Machine collection forever changed the way people saw the MB&F brand, the undeniable attractiveness of the product helped overcome most concerns about what it meant for the future of MB&F.
MB&F founder Max Busser always characterized the LM1 as a thought experiment of what he would have designed a Horological Machine watch to look like if he had been born about 100 years earlier. The MB&F LM1 opened up into a few watches including the smaller and less expensive MB&F LM1.1 and the more expensive and exotic MB&F LM2. For many people, the MB&F LM1 was still the ideal model with its straightforward and attractive movement, symmetrical dial layout, and 44mm-wide case size.
In steel, the MB&F LM1 doesn’t feel out of place. While titanium models exist, most MB&F watches are produced from precious metals, which is the case with most previous Legacy Machine 1 watches. Steel is a preferred metal by collectors for its durability and non-pretentious nature. MB&F has hinted (for now) that it will consider using steel as the material for future “final edition” watches.
What is a “final edition?” MB&F has two types of products – those which are strict limited editions and those which are not – but still produced in limited quantities. When the MB&F LM1 was originally introduced, it was part of the core MB&F collection, which means that the brand could ostensibly produce as many as they like without stopping production. Though, given the brand’s production limit of roughly 300 watches per year, there are only so many timepieces they have the bandwidth to produce. A Final Edition is a final set of watches produced by MB&F when they are totally ceasing production of a particular model. About six years after the original introduction of the MB&F Legacy Machine 1 watch, MB&F said that they produced “about” 435 LM1 watches in total. That includes a few limited-edition models, along with a few non-limited versions. Thus, the total production of all MB&F LM1 watches – even with the limited Final Edition LM1 taken into consideration – will only be about 450 pieces total.
The MB&F Legacy Machine No. 1 Final Edition will be limited to 18 pieces and is, by my account, a very attractive watch. It is certainly more subtle than other LM watches with eye-catching blue dials or other interesting colors. Rather, the LM1 goes out in a trendy bang with a piece meant to go with earth-tone suits and other attire. It sends the message that the MB&F LM1 is the fashionista of the MB&F family, and even in a household mostly interested with planes, cars, and science fiction, there is room for style and grace.
The LM1 case, once again, is 44mm wide by 16mm thick (due to the dramatically domed sapphire crystal). It wears very comfortably and contains an extremely sexy manually wound mechanical movement produced exclusively for MB&F. The movement is finished in the workshops of Kari Voutilainen and was originally designed by Jean-Francois Mojon. The movement is produced from 279 parts, and operates at 2.5Hz (18,000bph) with a power reserve of 45 hours. The relatively slow balance wheel frequency was intentional so that the user can better view the regulation organ’s animation through the dial, as the balance wheel is prominently displayed sitting on a bridge over the face.
One of my all-time favorite features of the MB&F LM1 is the “vertical” linear power reserve indicator. Rather than a traditional hand on a dial, a small arm moves up and down vertically over the face as the power reserve indicator. Time is told via two dials. Each is more or less independent and can be set to the minute as you like with one of two dedicated crowns located on either side of the case. It makes for a very handy two-time-zone timepiece.
The Legacy Machine Split Escapement benefits from aesthetic updates to the Legacy Machine introduced just recently and late into the production run of this LM1. This includes things like a polished bezel as well as a rounded and polished layout for the balance wheel bridge. MB&F farther chose to utilize their fancy “frosted” dials for all these introduction Legacy Machine Split Escapement watches. It’s a technique we have seen before such as in the LM101 Frost (hands-on here). The frosted faces are still an attractive backdrop for the 3 sub-dials on the the main dial, as well as the suspended 2.5Hz frequency balance wheel mechanism.Like the Legacy Machine 1, the MB&F Legacy Machine Split Escapement comes at a 44mm-wide case, but is 17.5mm thick rather than the greater thickness of the original LM1. Case material alternatives for the introduction models are confined to 18k white gold. On the other hand, the frost dials come in four colors such as yellow gold, red gold, blue, or ruthenium. It’s a matter of preference when considering which Legacy Machine dial you like. I was a major fan of both large “eyes” on the LM1, whereas the MB&F Legacy Machine Split Escapement includes three opposed sub-dials with a relatively large quantity of space from the center. I have not worn these yet, but I’d be interested to see what the Legacy Machine Split Escapement would look like when the sub-dials were a bit larger and potentially all of the exact same size. Even so, this is once again an attractive and balanced dial up on what’s easily likely to be regarded as another amazing Legacy Machine luxury watch product.
In addition to the large, suspended balance wheel (which is now cleaner-looking as a result of the anchor being around the opposing side of the watch), the face has a sub-dial for the moment, the date, and a power reserve indicator. In a sense, the Legacy Machine Split Escapement feels just like a grownup version of this Legacy Machine 101. I really do enjoy the power reserve indicator, but naturally it is not hard to miss the fancy “3D” power reserve indicator of the LM1.With the coming of the MB&F Legacy Machine Split Escapement, we see the Legacy Machine collection settling somewhat into a groove as customers have voiced their preference for a specific style they enjoy. Whereas the Horological Machine set from MB&F is more interested in sweeping fresh designs with every ensuing creation, the Legacy Machine collection is in a sense “anti-MB&F” for being more traditional not just in style, but also in its resistance to change. Undeniably, the Legacy Machine Split Escapement is an appealing and persuasive solution, but I expect it doesn’t suggest a more static design ethos when it comes to future Legacy Machine products.
The blued steel hands on the legible white lacquer dials complement the metallic brown dial well. The brown alligator strap completes the brown color theme nicely. One new design element for the LM1 on the MB&F LM1 Final Edition is the design of the robust dual-armed bridge that holds the balance wheel. The design of the bridge arms is changed, with each bearing a fully polished and rounded arm, versus something bit more modern and architectural as found in earlier LM1 watches. This particular bridge design isn’t new, however, to MB&F (just the LM1 collection) and can be seen in some LM2 and LM1.1 watches. It just helps the MB&F LM1 Final Edition look as classy as possible.
For the man who likes the MB&F lifestyle and likes brown watches, the MB&F LM1 Final Edition is going to be a desirable piece, and I don’t anticipate it being available for very long. The Legacy Machine 1 was always a strong seller, and in steel with this sober look, I think the MB&F LM1 Final Edition is a great ending to a truly iconic watch design of the last several years. The real question is what happens next? Will the LM3 come in at a similar price point and spice things up with a new and invigorated model? Or will MB&F take an entirely different direction with the Legacy Machine model that comes next. Limited to 18 pieces, the MB&F LM1 Final Edition watch is priced at $79,000 USD. mbandf.com