After working for nearly 45 hours without a break —all at peak performance— it’s been a long tiring day and energy levels are low. While it was relatively easy to sit up straight at the start of the day, fatigue has now set in, back languidly bends, head hits lap. ‘Mr. Up’ has become ‘Mr. Down’. But before Mr. Down shuts off completely, an invigorating influx of energy lifts his head, straightens his back and brightens his spirits. Mr. Up has been brought back to life!
Welcome to the world of Legacy Machine Number One Xia Hang. Welcome to the world of Mr. Up and Mr. Down, a collaboration between MB&F and Chinese artist Xia Hang.
Legacy Machine N°1 Xia Hang —LM1 Xia Hang— retains all of the 19th century pocket watch-inspired features of the original LM1, including the majestically suspended slowly oscillating balance wheel and dual time indications that can be set completely independently, but with a twist: the power reserve is indicated by a miniature, highly-polished aluminum man, designed by talented Chinese sculptor, Xia Hang. The man sits up straight when the movement is fully wound —Mr. Up— and gradually slumps over as the power diminishes —Mr. Down. “I call these little men ‘comma men’, and their distinctive shape comes from a selection of art I created from 2005 to 2008. Commas do exist in Chinese writing and for me the ‘comma man’ represents a chubby boy.” says artist Xia Hang.
Xia Hang and MB&F share much in common. While MB&F create serious works of time-telling kinetic art, they don’t take themselves too seriously. Similarly, Xia Hang believes the world of art is often too serious; he likes it to be playful, and wants his sculptures to entertain and make people smile. And just like MB&F, Hang calls his kinetic sculptures ‘machines’. “I was first introduced to Xia Hang a few years ago by a Chinese art collector friend, and visited him on the outskirts of Beijing in his workshop. I was like a child in a toy factory!” says Maximilian Büsser. The in-house movement powering LM1 Xia Hang bears testimony to the enormous talent of its creators. Jean-François Mojon and his team at Chronode developed the LM1 calibre, which features the world’s first vertical power reserve and allows completely independent setting —including minutes— of both time displays. Acclaimed independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen was responsible for the aesthetic design and for strictly ensuring the utmost respect for tradition and finish. No easy task with such an unconventional suspended-balance design from which to begin. A finely engraved sun-ray pattern on top of the movement plate —dial side— subtly catches the eye at certain angles without distracting attention from the twin white dials, floating balance or vertical power reserve. But it is in the style and finish of the bridges and plates visible through the display on the back of the movement where Kari Voutilainen has excelled in providing exquisite historical fidelity in both the shape of elegantly curved bridges and the traditionally wide space between the bridges and between the perimeter of the bridges and the case. On the back of the movement, 23 over-sized ruby jewels set in highly-polished countersunk gold chatons provide striking visual counterpoints to the Geneva waves traversing the sensually curved bridges. While providing historical links with the large jewels seen in high-grade antique pocket watch movements, the ruby bearings have a practical application in reducing wear/increasing longevity by accommodating large diameter pinions and holding more lubricating oil.
The MB&F Legacy Machine N°1 was conceived when Maximilian Büsser started fantasizing: “What would have happened if I had been born in 1867 instead of 1967? In the early 1900s, the first wristwatches appeared and I would've wanted to create three-dimensional machines for the wrist, but there would have been no Grendizers, Star Wars or fighter jets for my inspiration. But I would have had pocket watches, the Eiffel Tower and Jules Verne, so what might my 1911 machine look like? It has to be round and it has to be three-dimensional: Legacy Machine N°1 was my answer.” Legacy Machine N°1 Xia Hang is a limited edition of 12 pieces in red gold and 12 pieces in white gold. Each Machine is accompanied by a pair of polished stainless steel large-scale sculptures —approximately 15cm / 6" high— of Mr. Up and Mr. Down signed by Xia Hang. “Legacy Machine N°1 Xia Hang is the first time and hopefully not the last) that there has been a cross-pollination between an MB&F M.A.D. Gallery artist —Xia Hang— and a MB&F watch —LM1. In curating these amazing artists at our M.A.D. Gallery in Geneva, it opens a world of possibilities in possible co-creations with MB&F’s Machines”, mentions Maximilian Büsser.
Legacy Machine No. 1 LM1’s ingenious three-dimensional movement was specifically developed for MB&F from Maximilian Büsser’s sketches by Jean-François Mojon and his team at Chronode in Le Locle, Switzerland. The balance wheel and spring are at the very heart of any mechanical watch movement and are responsible for regulating timekeeping accuracy. Büsser has long been fascinated by the large, slowly oscillating —18,000vph compared with the 28,800vph common today— balance wheels of antique pocket watches, so it was no surprise this was his starting point from which to let his imagination roam free. What was surprising though is just how radically he reinterpreted tradition by relocating the balance wheel from its more usual position hidden at the back of the movement to the top, majestically floating above the movement… even floating above the dials. This manual wound movement provides a power reserve of 45 hours when fully wound and is composed of 274 parts.
While the location of Legacy Machine N°1’s regulating organ may be considered avant-garde, ‘tradition’ is upheld by the large 14 mm diameter balance wheel with regulating screws specifically developed for MB&F, balance spring with Breguet overcoil and mobile stud holder. Another very special feature of the LM1 movement is the ability to set the two time zones completely independently. The vast majority of dual time zone movements only allow the hours to be independently adjusted, while a rare few offer setting to the half hour. Legacy Machine N°1 allows both hours and minutes of each dial to be set to whatever time the user wishes. The vertical power reserve indicator on LM1 Xia Hang is driven by an ultra-flat differential with ceramic bearings, allowing for a slimmer complication and a more robust and longer-wearing mechanism.
LM1’s power reserve complication was modified to enable Xia Hang’s comma man to seamlessly transition from slumping right over when power is low to sitting up straight at full wind. Xia Hang first created full-size sculptures, which MB&F then scaled down to a height of just 4mm —1/8”— and then developed the articulation required. The head, shoulders, back and chest of ‘Mr. Up’ —as the power reserve indicator in known when wound—, all bend down —thanks to a concealed hinge— towards the horizontal as he becomes tired and Mr. Up becomes Mr. Down. The tiny micro-mechanical sculpture is crafted from aluminum to minimize energy requirements. A very high polish ensures that the little man both catches the light and the eye, as well as remaining faithful to Xia Hang’s original conception.
The rate-keeping of the twin dials is controlled by the same regulator —balance and escapement— so that once set, the two times stay perfectly synchronized with each other. Both the hours and minutes on both dials can be set to any time desired via their respective crowns. Complementing the three-dimensionality of the balance floating in space, the dual white dials with their bright blue gold hands float above the top of the movement. 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 and their traditional Roman numerals, a sophisticated fixation underneath negates the necessity of visually obtrusive used screws. A fine golden perimeter circumscribing each dial elegantly reinforces their timeless classicism.
The watches are fitted with elegant hand-stitched alligator straps made by renowned Parisian leather good and strap maker Camille Fournet. The 18K red gold model features a dark brown strap while the 18K white gold version features a black one. The straps round up the elegance and refinement of this new timepiece with their gold pin buckles matching the case and their exceptional finishing.
Just as expected from a name like MB&F, the finishing on the robust 18K white or 18K red gold cases —measuring 44 mm in diameter— is exceptional and clearly shows the signs of the superb craftsmanship and the attention to detail that MB&F is known for. The cases are very solid and quite thick measuring 16 mm in thickness with an amazing satin-brushed finish and the most beautiful chamfers at the lugs.
On the wrist, prepare to have one of the most amazing horological creations and get ready to wow anyone asking you for the time. Every time you look at Mr. Up or Mr. Down, it will be a nice reminder of why MB&F is one of the most unique watch companies and why their watches are true horological machines and not just timepieces.
Three-dimensional horological movement developed exclusively for MB&F by Jean-François Mojon /Chronode with aesthetics finishes specified by Kari Voutilainen. Manual winding with single mainspring barrel, power reserve indicator with a little man designed by Chinese artist Xia Hang and a power reserve of 45 hours while beating at a frequency of 18,000 vph.
Hours and minutes; completely independent dual time zones displayed on two dials;
unique vertical power reserve indicated by a highly-polished little man in aluminum. Left crown at 8 o’clock for setting time of left dial; right crown at 4 o’clock for setting time of right dial and winding.
Available in 18k red gold or 18k white gold
Dimensions: 44mm wide x 16mm high
Number of components: 65
High domed sapphire crystal on top and sapphire crystal on back with anti-reflective coating on both sides.