If there’s one thing that MB&F positively excel at doing, it’s forcing people to re-examine their ideas of timekeeping and timekeepers. Looking at the new MB&F Legacy Machine 101 (LM101) is like looking backwards and forwards in time simultaneously.
When I first met the LM1, I said that it would be the only watch that we’d wear as a species if we ever evolved into four-dimensional beings, able to experience space-time as a scalar instead of a vector quantity. That’s some troublesome metaphysics right there. The LM101 compels you to look at the LM1 and LM2 (and their attendant concepts) through a new lens that may or may not throw any light on the path forwards for the Legacy Machine collection.
The LM101 invites comparison; how could it not? The very name of it, the “101”. It evokes all those references to introductory university courses, which have led us to permanently associate “101” as a kind of lexical shorthand for anything which provides only the essentials, a distillation of a larger whole. Just with its name, the LM101 leaps out of the sequence of MB&F watch naming convention and sets itself in a different orbit.
Rules broken so far: 1
If the LM101 is meant to be the distillation of the Legacy Machine horological vocabulary (as it were), what does it actually say? What do we see when we look at a Legacy Machine? There is the suspended balance wheel, there is the white dial of stretched lacquer, there is the domed crystal, there are the allusions to antique watchmaking such as the flowing cursive script and polished gold chatons, there is that achingly gorgeous finish that can stop you in the middle of a sent—
All these are present in the LM101. The next question to ask (in my mind, the more relevant question) is: What’s not present that we would expect to see in a Legacy Machine watch?
The first two Legacy Machines bore the same aesthetic codes of the rest of the MB&F watches — they were symmetrical, there was a dualist approach to their time display that represented the coming together of the two worlds of Max Büsser and his friends. The LM101 is decidedly asymmetrical and has eschewed dualism for a pleasing singularity in its aesthetic expression.
Rules broken so far: 3
So far so disruptive — the LM101 is not like any of the other Legacy Machines. And the Legacy Machines were not like any other MB&F watches when the collection was first introduced. And MB&F was not like any other watch brand when it was established. It was the first to openly acknowledge each and every person who had contributed to the development and creation of its watches. Who did that, back in 2007? Who does that even now?
Rules broken so far: 6
After Baselworld, people generally tend to ask you things like — what were the trends you spotted? What were the watches you liked? In both the interviews I did, the first with thewatches.tv and the second with Watchonista, I mentioned that the things that defined Baselworld 2014 for me were the things unseen, which referred to the development of technology that was hidden in the movement of a watch rather than a novelty in and of itself.
Now, the LM101 was one of these examples. Its movement is the first to be developed in house at MB&F. You can’t tell by looking at it — of course you can’t. But it’s another step away from how MB&F have always done things, which is to collaborate with an external movement specialist.
Rules broken so far: 7
What the LM101 does is remind us that rules — like records, like assumptions, like anything that tells you how the world is and how it is not — must sometimes be broken by those who know when and how to break them.
Rules are for people not named Max Büsser.