Breaking a tradition of masterminding complex, visually arresting watches for men, MB&F undertook its maiden voyage into the galaxy of women’s watches in 2019. Faithful to the brand’s spectacular 3D design language, the Legacy Machine Flying T staged a flying tourbillon rising above the dial plate accompanied by an intriguing hours and minutes dial perched at an angle. Eminently feminine without being affected, the Flying T has had many wardrobe changes but none as glacial as this duet of Ice and Blizzard editions made in collaboration with jewellery designer Emmanuel Tarpin.
Büsser has always cultivated an assorted group of ‘friends’ (the ‘F’ in MB&F), collaborators or partners who contribute their expertise to different projects. The latest friend to join the gang is Emmanuel Tarpin, a French jewellery designer from Annecy who studied at the Haute École d’Art et de Design (HEAD) in Geneva and spent three years in the Parisian high jewellery workshop of Van Cleef & Arpels. Since 2017, at the tender age of 25, Tarpin has gone solo and has gained international recognition for his naturalistic creations that materialise in the form of shells, jellyfish, flowers and plants.
Aware that watchmakers and jewellers are two very different métiers, Büsser reached out to Bulgari’s creative director Fabrizio Buonamassa to create the exuberant high jewellery Flying T Allegra in 2021, and shortly afterwards, he contacted independent jewellery designer Emmanuel Tarpin. As Büsser concedes: “We are not jewellers; we are watchmakers. We would put diamonds on our timepieces, but it was really the bare minimum. So, I started to see jewellers, great jewellers, to ask them if they would like to put their artistry and jewellery into our FlyingT – much like giving them a blank canvas to paint.”
LM Flying T
Unlike most flying tourbillons that reside inside the movements and are revealed through apertures carved into the dial, the tourbillon of the Flying T rises above the dial plate and performs its rotations in full view of the owner. Protected by a protuberant domed glass, the column construction of the tourbillon ensures that the spectacle can be admired from every angle. Another unusual feature of the Flying T is the small hour and minute counter inclined at a 50° angle, ensuring that only the wearer can consult the time. Conical gears are employed to transmit torque from one plane to another to achieve this distinctive inclination. The 280-part automatic movement, conceived and developed in-house by MB&F and takes solutions from the HM6 series and the HM7 Aquapod, has a gold sun-shaped winding rotor and an impressive power reserve of 100 hours.
First appearing with a black lacquered dial and high-jewellery diamond-set models, the Flying T has been revisited in red gold and platinum without diamonds and with stone Lapis Lazuli, Malachite and Tiger’s Eye dials.
A Winter Wonderland
Winter, with its spectacular icy formations and swirling snow storms, was the theme Tarpin selected for his versions of the Flying T. His requests to recreate the wintery scenery included eliminating any yellow or red gold elements that would clash with the icy white gold case and incorporating rare, vivid turquoise Paraiba tourmalines set in the centre of the tourbillon (~ 0.03ct) and the two crowns. Both the Ice and Blizzard are limited editions of eight pieces.
The Legacy Machine Flying T Ice model is characterised by claw-like structures on the dial’s periphery. The claws reach up and over the dial embracing the domed curvature of the sapphire crystal. Designed to emulate the shape of ice stalagmites, the height of the stalagmites differs, as does the number of brilliant-cut diamonds that taper to match their pointy peaks. Although the claws are described as ice stalagmites, which are formed in freezing caves, the press release mentions that Tarpin’s design was inspired by the way Lake Baikal in Southern Siberia slowly begins to freeze over, starting at the edges and eventually freezing in its entirety. Hovering over a blue matte lapis lazuli dial plate, the frozen shards begin to encroach the blue waters but don’t invade the impressive flying tourbillon and the inclined hour and minute disc.
Blizzards are a common phenomenon in the Alps and are effectively interpreted on the dial of the Legacy Machine Flying T Blizzard with a flurry of brilliant-cut diamonds that are buffeted by the wind against the domed sapphire crystal. On both models, the inclined lapis lazuli hour and minute dial is fitted with the signature serpentine hands of this collection.
glistening white gold case
The 18k white gold case measures 38.5mm and has a pronounced height of 20mm, including the convex crystal. The case is set with 120 brilliant-cut diamonds (~ 1.402cts), and a further sprinkling of brilliant-cut diamonds flank the electric-blue Paraiba tourmalines set in both crowns.
Availability & Price
Matching the icy theme is a white alligator strap with a light blue lining and a white gold buckle paved with diamonds. So, if you’re stuck for a stocking filler for Christmas and have about CHF 160,000 to spare, you could be a contender for any one of the eight limited editions of each model.
The MB&F x Emmanuel Tarpin Legacy Machine Flying T Ice & Blizzard retail for CHF 160,000 (+ tax) / EUR 168,000 (+ tax). For more information, please visit mbandf.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.