Two years ago, MB&F took us back in time, asking us to imagine what MB&F would have created a century ago… the answer was Legacy Machine No.1. An unexpected new line for MB&F, who had accustomed you to futuristic, totally unconventional Horological Machines. The worldwide response was flabbergasting – climaxing in a double win at last year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, where LM1 took both the jury’s Best Men’s Watch and the Public Prize.
Today, MB&F is asking us to push the time-traveling machine a bit further: adjust the knobs and levers to about 250 years ago. With a bit of luck we would've bumped into some of the greatest watchmakers this planet has seen: Ferdinand Berthoud (1727-1807), Antide Janvier (1751-1835) and Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823). These horological legends of the 18th century are united not only by
their inventive genius, but also by the fact that they have all
constructed clocks and watches with two balances.
Legacy Machine No.2 is once again a tribute to these amazing Horological ancestors. One movement. Two fully independent escapements, with two Legacy-style flying balance wheels floating high above the dial and a planetary differential which transmits the average rates of those balance wheels to a single gear train. Oscillating on high, the exalted double balance wheels of LM2 were inspired by, and pay homage to, one of the rarest mechanisms in the history of watchmaking: the dual regulator. And rarer still, the average rates of Legacy Machine No. 2’s dual regulators are transmitted by a differential to a single gear train, where the majority had two separate movements.
On display under a domed sapphire crystal cupola, the dial of Legacy Machine No. 2, which is actually the top plate of the exquisitely finished movement, is an object lesson in symmetrical simplicity. Top to bottom: the white stretched lacquer sub dial at 12 o’clock, with its blued gold hour and minute hands, is visually balanced by the large, raised differential at 6 o’clock. Left to right: the two flying balances and their escapements are identical mirror images, right down to the position of the stud holders pinning their balance springs. While superficially Legacy Machine No. 2 may look like a traditional round watch, its three-dimensional architecture offers visual treats on multiple levels. What looks at first glance to be the main dial is actually the top plate of the movement, which has been finely engraved, plated —or blued for the platinum model— and then hand-engraved with Legacy Machine below the differential.
Slightly raised above the surface is the hour-minute sub dial, its fine gold circumference highlighting the pure white of the stretched lacquer dial, which is created by applying and heating multiple layers of lacquer, causing them to stretch tightly over the surface of the dial. The white contrasts superbly with the bright blued 18k gold hands. The hands are slightly curved to follow the slightly convex surface of the sub dial. To ensure aesthetic purity of the dial and its traditional Roman numerals, a sophisticated fixation underneath negates the necessity of visually obtrusive screws.
The planetary differential also sits proud of the surface, supported by a stunning double-arc mirror-polished bridge inset with three large jewels. The complex differential is the key element in the double regulator system and raising it just above the movements enables the mechanism to be better appreciated.
Suspended above both the sub dial and the differential are the two oscillating bespoke balance wheels. The dual balances feature Breguet over coils, inset with four fully functional timing screws. The two balances are mirror images of each other so that they react differently to different forces. The distance between the balance wheels has been carefully and deliberately calculated to avoid resonance, as this would negatively interfere with regulation.
Those elegant majestically curved arms suspending the flying balances are sculptural works of art in themselves. The elongated triangular cut out section could not be created by the usual method of wire electro erosion, but necessitated the creation of an electrode precisely shaped to the form of the cut out section.
While the levitated oscillating balance wheels of the binary regulators catch and hold the viewer ’s gaze, it is the large planetary differential sitting proud of the dial that is the real heart of Legacy Machine No. 2. In an incredible feat of micro-engineering − and the sheer paucity of timepieces with multiple regulators connected via a differential attests to the enormous difficulty in creating such a complex high-precision mechanism − the differential has three roles:
1. Transferring power to each of the regulators; 2. Receiving the individual timing rates from each balance; and 3. Transmitting the average rate of the two regulators to the gear train, where it finally manifests itself as the displayed time.
The movement of Legacy Machine No. 2 was developed to MB&F’s specifications by award-winning watchmaker Jean-François Mojon —Best Watchmaker at the 2010 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève— and his team at Chronode. Acclaimed independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen ensured that the movement’s aesthetic style was consistent with high-quality traditional timepieces of the 19th century and for specifying the superlative hand-finishing. Immaculate Geneva waves, gold chatons, mirror-polished bevels and bridges designed with deliberate internal bevelled angles —which cannot be finished by machine— showcase the movement’s peerless fine finishing. Consistent with MB&F’s spirit of transparency, the names of the two men responsible for the movement are hand engraved on the back.
Two and a half centuries after three of the world’s greatest watchmakers put two balance wheels into their movements, MB&F celebrates their pioneering works by creating LM2, a timepiece with two balances hovering outside the movement.
Legacy Machine No. 2 is available in 18K red gold, 18K white gold and a limited edition of 18 pieces in platinum .950 that features a striking sky-blue dial.
Below you will find a video produced by MB&F of the dual balance wheels in action.
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