MB&F’s Legacy Machine debuted last year to excellent reviews. Its past-meets-future design highlights what is essential in a wristwatch: the balance wheel (how well it keeps time), the power reserve (how long it will run) and, of course, the time display itself. Its minimalist design also accentuates the purity inherent in a simple movement, and that in turn lets us focus on the finishes as well as the mechanics.
The new “Frost” LM101 limited editions step up the visual impact by embracing a finish that is both beautiful and extremely difficult to create. The Legacy Machine’s mechanics are now set against a spectacular frosted backdrop that has been applied to the movement’s top plate. The surface provides a textural counterpoint to the highly polished surfaces, making each stand out against the other.
Abraham-Louis Breguet is credited with inventing the “frosted” finish, or “finition grenée” in French. In Breguet’s day, the finish was more than simply decorative – it helped protect the surface from oxidation. The finish was also rather dangerous to apply. The process involved strong acid and flames, a proverbial recipe for disaster. The result was a silvery-white effect that looked similar to frost. Talk about fire and ice.
Today, the process is much safer, though it remains difficult to master. Modern traditional brushed frosting actually burnishes the surface (compresses the metal with a wire brush without removing material), creating a finish so hard that it is impossible to hand engrave. The majority of so-called frosted surfaces seen today are actually created industrially with bead blasting, a short-cut that results in a much less appealing surface.
Visually, the suspended, 14mm balance wheel dominates the view. Two pristine white subdials hover just above the fine frosted top plate. 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. A sophisticated fixation system below the dials obviates the need for obtrusive attachment screws. Blued gold hands display the time and the 45-hour power reserve.
Turning LM101 Frost over reveals the exquisitely hand-finished movement. Intricate curves, hand-polished bevels, gold chatons and countersunk blued screws pay homage to the style found in historic pocket watches and embody the respect accorded to historical legitimacy. Award-winning independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen took responsibility for the movement’s fine finishing and fidelity to the horological past, while its architecture and construction were developed in-house by MB&F.
Legacy Machine 101 Frost is available in two limited editions: 18 pieces in yellow gold and 33 pieces in red gold. See the complete technical specifications below.