Max Büsser and Friends, or simply MB&F, was created as an avant-garde horological lab with a vision: gathering talents to create radical mechanical art pieces. For its latest creation, Büsser got two of his long-time friends to collaborate for the first time; the discreet Finnish master Kari Voutilainen and the inventive Eric Coudray. The result of this collaboration is spectacular, to say the least. Meet the MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome – and for the record, it features a fast triple-axis regulator… a very fast one!
Max Büsser and Eric Coudray met some 20 years ago when they were both working at Jaeger-LeCoultre. In 2004, Coudray made a name for himself when the “Grande Maison” presented the cult Gyrotourbillon. Coudray and multi-axis tourbillons share a long history and the MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome does not fail to surprise and amaze. This triple-axis regulator watch is packed with intriguing features. And Kari Voutilainen’s masterful craftsmanship, seen on the decoration, brings a unique touch.
TRIPLE AXIS REGULATOR WITH A THREE-DIMENSIONAL BALANCE AND A UNIQUE ESCAPEMENT
To kick off the project, Max Büsser brief to Eric Coudray was short and to the point… “make the craziest, most cinematic three-axis tourbillon ever“. The result is the world’s fastest triple-axis regulator watch, a hypnotic kinetic sculpture for the wrist. Its “TriAx” mechanism results in a regulator working on three axes, revolving at different speeds and on different planes, in a record-breaking 8 seconds, 12 seconds and 20 seconds. The last axis of rotation is eccentric relative to the other two.
Besides the impressive rotational speed, the novel architecture is designed to be spectacular. The Legacy Machine Thunderdome stages its large triple-axis regulator right in the middle of the dial, visible from all sides, and in traditional LM style. Held in place by a dramatically arched bridge, sharing some similarities with the women-oriented Flying-T, it is protected under a massive sapphire dome.
This original triple-axis and two-cage construction allow for unprecedented visibility. Its unusual Potter escapement integrates a fixed escapement wheel. It frees up more space for the balance and the hairspring. Both feature an unusual shape. The hairspring is helical (the Gyrotourbillon 2 was fitted with a cylindrical hairspring). These hairsprings allow the spring to breathe evenly and improve isochronism.
As you can imagine, this eye-catching solution is complex to manufacture and requires space/volume. The balance wheel itself is hemispherical. This innovative configuration allows for the largest possible balance when combined with the helical hairspring while maintaining a relatively compact construction. Adjusting such a balance wheel represented a major challenge, and MB&F had to refine the application of laser measuring instruments to do so.
The Potter Escapement
The MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome relies on a modified Potter escapement. Instead of the mobile escape wheels seen in virtually every type of modern rotating escapement, it features a fixed escape wheel with inverted teeth, co-planar to the lever fork.
Albert H. Potter (1836-1908) was an American-born watchmaker. He moved to Geneva in 1875 where he obtained his Permis d’Etablissage. During his long career, he invented and made drawings for different escapements.
The combined weight of this super-fast multi-axis beating heart is nearly 1 gram – which might sound light but is, in reality, much heavier than a traditional regulator, tourbillon or not. The oscillator ticks at 21,600 vibrations per hour and the manual-winding movement offers 45 hours of power reserve on three barrels. The hours and minutes are indicated on a 58-degree, vertically-tilted, stretched-lacquer dial.
For the finishing of the exceptional dial and movement of the Legacy Machine Thunderdome, MB&F has solicited the talents of Kari Voutilainen. The Finnish watchmaker is involved in the decoration and in the manufacturing of some parts. The light-blue blue guilloché plate framing the rotating regulator is crafted in his Saint-Sulpice-based Comblémine workshop.
For the first time in an MB&F creation, Kari Voutilainen agreed to use his own proprietary finishing technique on the ratchet wheels. This finish imparts a sheen that appears almost uniformly sandblasted but reflects direct light in deeply curved sigmoid waves. Visible via the exhibition caseback, the movement’s finishing is top-notch. The bridges are finely bevelled by hand and adorned with Geneva stripes. The names of Coudray and Voutilainen are hand-engraved on the periphery of the movement. Last, the power reserve of the watch is indicated at the back of the movement.
The MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome, a captivating masterpiece of mechanical engineering, is housed in a 44mm platinum case with an off-centred crown. The lugs have been slightly reworked and are more elongated in comparison with the previous Legacy Machines. With is massive sapphire curved crystal protecting the 3D regulator, the MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome is 22.2mm thick. That’s not exactly a comfortable height but what an attention-grabbing timepiece!
The tantalum edition with aventurine dial for The Hour Glass
Availability and Price
The MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome in platinum with blue guilloché dial is a limited edition of 33 pieces. It is worn on a blue hand-stitched alligator strap secured by a platinum folding buckle. There is also a limited edition of 10 pieces in tantalum for The Hour Glass (5 watches with an aventurine dial and 5 watches with a blue guilloché dial). Price is set at CHF 270,000 (excl. taxes) for the platinum launch edition.
For more information, please visit www.mbandf.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.