Launched in 2015, the Legacy Machine Perpetual marked MB&F’s incursion into the upper strata of Haute Horlogerie. Developed with independent watchmaker Stephen McDonnell, the perpetual calendar was reinvented from scratch eliminating the fragility and drawbacks of conventional QPs. Just one year after its debut, the LM Perpetual took home the GPHG’s Best Calendar Watch award of 2016. Revisited in red, white and yellow gold, titanium and platinum, this year the LM Perpetual is clad in palladium, a rare case material combined with a beguiling aquamarine dial in a limited edition of 25 pieces. Although the tech specs and layout are identical to former Legacy Machine Perpetuals, the palladium model adopts the ergonomic corrector pushers featured on the LM Perpetual EVO.
The first Legacy Machine of 2011 came as something of a shock to seasoned MB&F fans. Instead of the galactic trajectory adopted by the brand for its retro-futuristic cases that looked right at home in outer space, MB&F’s Legacy Machine 1 was round with classical features like the white lacquered sub-dials with Roman numerals. The Legacy Machine was Max Büsser’s tribute to some of the great horological innovations and Grand Master watchmakers of the 19th century with a distinctive MB&F twist. Inspired by the engineering miracles of Gustave Eiffel, the fantastical worlds of Jules Verne and the mechanics and aesthetics of the 19th-century pockets watches, the Legacy Machine revealed the hand of its master with its dramatic staging of the flying balance wheel on the dial held in place by a spectacular V-shaped arching bridge. Since 2011, the Legacy Machine has appeared in countless guises and spawned eight unique calibres scaling colossal horological heights with the LM Perpetual and the spectacular LM Thunderdome with its triple-axis regulator. If you’d like to track the evolution of the Legacy Machine since its birth, don’t miss our in-depth review.
Legacy Machine Perpetual
Developed with independent Northern Irish watchmaking genius Stephen McDonnell in 2015, the astonishing Legacy Machine Perpetual turned conventional perpetual calendar movements upside down and inside out. The grande dame of calendar movements, a perpetual calendar is a masterpiece of miniaturisation that indicates the date, day and month (and often moon phases) automatically computing the number of days in a month and the cycle of leap years without any adjustment needed until 2100. However, traditional perpetual calendars have some shortcomings: the dates can skip, the gears can jam, they can be damaged if adjusted when the date is changing, and many rely on modules powered by a base movement.
Intent on improving and making the perpetual calendar safer, McDonnell reinvented the QP complication from scratch with a fully integrated, purpose-built movement. Unlike traditional perpetual calendar mechanisms that use a space-consuming grand levier (big lever system architecture), McDonnell’s invention relies on an innovative “mechanical processor”. Instead of the 31-day month default setting of traditional QPs that delete superfluous dates for months with fewer days, McDonnell’s mechanical processor uses a default 28-day month, adding extra days as required with the aid of superimposed discs. There is no skipping over redundant days resulting in a fool-proof system that protects itself from incorrect manipulation. Another advantage of McDonnell’s movement is that the leap year has a dedicated quickset pusher (using a planetary cam) instead of the scrolling system (up to 47 months) found on more traditional QPs. Furthermore, an in-built safety feature disconnects the quickset pushers during the date changeover so that even if the pushers are accidentally actuated while the date is changing, there is no risk of damage to the movement. What is also amazing is how McDonnell managed to place all 581 components of the movement in virtually the same-sized case as LM1.
The Legacy Machine Perpetual Palladium displays the perpetual calendar mechanism on top of the movement mainplate underneath the sub-dials for the calendar indications and time, as well as the hallmark floating balance wheel of the LM family. With so many elements on view, you might expect a jumble, but the dial is exquisitely symmetrical and legible. To showcase the suspended 14mm balance wheel hovering on top of the movement, the LM Perpetual uses what might well be the world’s longest balance wheel pinion to connect the balance to the escapement on the back of the movement.
Legacy Machine Perpetual Palladium
It might be the first time the Legacy Machine Perpetual is fitted with a palladium case, but MB&F has used palladium before on the LM101 in 2019. A rare metal that belongs to the platinum family, palladium has a natural silvery-white lustre, is harder and more durable than gold and does not need plating. Crafted in 950 palladium, the 44mm x 17.5mm case is fitted with rectangular pushers borrowed from the ‘sportier’ LM Perpetual EVO editions, beefed-up QPs with shock absorbers ready for action in real-life situations; former models of the LM Perpetual used small rounded pushers.
The beautiful natural silvery-white lustre of palladium is enhanced with polished surfaces and brushed lateral and caseback finishings. The combination of palladium with the lovely aquamarine sunray dial is a perfect match. Depending on the light, the dial can look pale blue, green and even grey.
As mentioned above, the sheer number of elements on the dial could, in other hands, become a dog’s dinner. To reveal as much of the mechanics as possible, the balance wheel and indication dials hover above the movement. The three skeletonised sub-dials corresponding to the calendar functions (day, month and date) seem to float above the movement and below the balance wheel. The sub-dials rest on hidden studs, a feature that would be technically impossible with traditional perpetual calendar mechanisms because they would block the movement of the grand levier. At noon, the white lacquered dial indicates the hours and minutes with Roman numerals. The calendar indications, the time, the power reserve indicator at 4 o’clock and the retrograde leap indicator at 7 o’clock are all indicated by classic blued hands.
Although a large part of the 581-part movement is exposed on the dial, the view from the reverse side is still rewarding. McDonnell’s manual-winding fully integrated perpetual calendar movement with its in-built mechanical processor and safety mechanism is powered by twin barrels providing up to 72-hours power reserve. The spectacular balance wheel on the dial beats at a slow, stately frequency of 2.5Hz/18,000vph, and you can see the escapement in an aperture on the bridges. In keeping with its 19th-century spirit that moves this collection, the hand-finishings are superlative with internal bevelled and polished angles, large gold chatons, Geneva waves on the bridges and hand-engraved surfaces.
Availability & Price
The Legacy Machine Perpetual Palladium is limited to 25 pieces and will retail for EUR 165,000 (+ VAT). For further inquiries, please consult www.mbandf.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.