First presented in 2014, Legacy Machine 101 embodies and accentuates what is essential in a wristwatch: the balance wheel, which is responsible for regulating precision; how much power remains in the mainspring, which indicates when it needs to be next wound; and of course, the time. Inspired by the frosted finish on timepieces created in the old days, MB&F presents the new Legacy Machine 101 'Frost' LM101. While the word 'frost' refers to those uneven ice crystals that cover your lawn during the beginning of the cold season, when it comes to horology it conveys something different. Abraham-Louis Breguet is credited with inventing the 'frosted' finish —'finition grenée' in French— in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. At the time, the operation of frosting protected dials and movements from oxidation —more common in Breguet’s day— and added subdued vivacity to movement plates. Traditional frosting methods involved the use of dangerous acids which have been largely replaced by the environmentally and medically safer method of carefully compressing the surface with a wire brush. However, this is a much more difficult process to master and obtain a uniform, non-polished surface. Very few artisans today create true frosted finishes: the majority of surfaces that look frosted have in fact been bead blasted, which does not quite have the same visual impact. The new Legacy Machine 101 Frost is available in two limited editions of 18 pieces in 18K yellow gold and 33 pieces in 18K red gold. The 18k yellow gold case is a first for MB&F. The case measuring 40 mm wide x 16 mm thick is composed of 35 components and is satin brushed finished on the case band and highly polished on the lugs and bezel.
Visually, the new MB&F LM101 Frost is dominated by the monumental suspended balance wheel, now rhodium plated so that it stands out even more. Two pristine-white subdials hover just above the fine frosted movement top plate: contrasting blued gold hands display hours and minutes at the top right, while the 45-hour power reserve indicator is displayed below. The animated suspended balance has always visually dominated LM101 and the frosted movement top plate amplifies this even more. Set off by the frosted finish, the blued-gold hands and pristine white dials for the time —hours and minutes— and power reserve indications are both aesthetically appealing and highly legible.
The dials are gently domed with a translucent, high-gloss luster created using a 'laque tendue' process in which multiple layers of lacquer are applied and heated, causing them to stretch over the surface of the dials. To ensure aesthetic purity of the dials, a sophisticated fixation underneath removes the necessity of visually obtrusive attachment screws. A fine golden perimeter circumscribing each dial elegantly reinforces their timeless classicism.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, frosting was created by treating the components with a special acid mixture and then heating on an open flame. The result was a silvery-white effect looking similar to frost, which protected the surfaces from oxidation; this was important when watches and clocks were not water resistant at all. As watchmakers became more attentive to the potential hazards associated with working with powerful acids, alternative methods were explored, the most effective —in terms of the quality of finish— being to very carefully brush the surface with a wire brush. However, it is extremely difficult to obtain a uniform result because just slightly too much pressure or brushing for too long can quickly ruin the desired matte surface with uneven polish. Today there are very few craftsmen with the skills and experience necessary for creating a traditional frosted finish, and they closely guard their secrets. Modern traditional brushed frosting actually burnishes the surface —compresses the metal without removing material—, creating a finish so hard that it is impossible to hand engrave.
LM101 Frost’s highly anti-reflective coated domed sapphire crystal is virtually invisible, creating the illusion that you can reach out and touch the prodigious 14 mm balance wheel hanging mesmerizingly from elegant twin arches. The arches are milled from a solid block of metal requiring hours of hand polishing to achieve its mirror-like luster.
Turning over LM101 Frost, the display back crystal —domed to reduce the thickness of the case band and, visually, the height of the watch— reveals the exquisitely hand-finished movement. Sensually curved plates and bridges, hand polished bevels, gold chatons and countersunk blued screws pay homage to the style found in historic pocket watches and testify to the respect accorded to historical legitimacy. While award-winning independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen took responsibility for the movement’s fine finishing and fidelity to the horological past, its architecture and construction were developed in-house by MB&F.
Presented for the first time in 2014, the LM101 movement is an entirely new calibre conceived and developed in-house by MB&F. The balance wheel and spring are at the very heart of any mechanical watch movement and their isochronal —equal intervals of time— oscillations regulate the movement’s precision. The beating heart inside the MB&F Legacy Machine 101 'Frost' LM101 features 23 jewels, a single mainspring barrel and 229 components to provide a power reserve of 45 hours when fully wound while beating at a frequency of 18,000 vph —2.5 Hz.
While the 18K yellow gold model features a light brown hand-stitched alligator strap with gold tang buckle to match case, the 18K red gold model features a dark brown one.
On the wrist, the new MB&F Legacy Machine 101 Frost wears true to its size and fits very comfortably and with indisputable wrist presence. If you thought that the Legacy Machine No. 1 was impressive, wait until you see one of these new watches in person. The frost finish will captivate you for sure.
Sticker Price CHF 58,000 —roughly $59,000 USD. For more info on MB&F click here.