Watch Drop: Three new versions of the MB&F Legacy Machine ‘LM101’

MB&F’s love letter to the ‘bare essentials’ of horology is back and badder than ever, this time in two ‘upgraded’ precious metal variations and stainless steel.
By Randy Lai

More often than not, you get an inkling of how influential a product will be based on the number of variations it’s already been crafted in. One need look no further than in the watch industry: an arena dominated by influential, enduring designs — the Rolex GMTs and Omega Speedies of this world — that have varied in size and number over the years, all whilst retaining a singular ‘core’ identity. That too is a fitting encapsulation of the Legacy Machine 101 (‘LM101’): a platform for the “most compact” in-house watchmaking MB&F can muster, with a zero-tolerance policy toward superfluity. 

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MB&F have announced three new versions of the MB&F Legacy Machine ‘LM101’.
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Pictured: the new purple dial/white gold LM101 variation, still sporting the same size and in-house movement beloved by collectors. 

Since the eponymous watch’s earliest days (2014) it has evolved to encompass multiple iterations in gold, platinum, or palladium; and even a handful of collaborative editions. (Editor’s Note: We covered the most recent of these, the “Moser-fied” version of the LM101, in our ‘Side by Side’ series earlier this year.) This month, Max Büsser & Co. have added even more iterations to choose from, with a trio of funky new dial colours that are accompanied by some subtle adjustments in the overall design.

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Some very minor aesthetic revisions and the addition of a light blue dial make this iteration of the LM101 one that promises populist appeal.

The brand’s apparent fixation on all things blue continues, courtesy of two new models in a lighter and darker shade. The former is of particular interest, as it combines a pale sky dial with polished stainless steel case — something of a novelty in the regular LM101 collection that will appeal to a breadth of different collectors. Meanwhile, the marine variation presents itself as a more classical alternative: contrasting a dark, lustrous blue dial with warm tones of rose gold for the case-work. The third and final variation features a case in white gold fitted with a purple dial: an aesthetic that calls to mind a previous iteration of the Legacy Machine 2 (given a similar treatment in 2018). Getting personal for a moment, this is handily my favourite of the bunch — with the layered effect of the purple accenting what is already a deeply whimsical, madcap interpretation of the time-only watch. 

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Pictured here: the third variation cased in white gold and fitted with a shade-shifting purple dial.

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As always, the ‘floating’ balance wheel (pictured) is at the aesthetic and mechanical epicentre of the LM101 — equipped with the same Straumann double hairspring used in last year’s Moser collab. 

Beyond new changes in colour palette — self-explanatory, really — each dial has been tweaked so as to enhance the innate elegance of the whole LM101 package. Devotees of the previous layout will clock the absence of the engraved ‘Legacy Machine’ signature straightaway. Much of the resultant negative space is now mitigated by the sub-dials, as the brand’s watchmakers have managed to enlarge those without detracting from the dial’s rake-like laque tendue finish. The signature ‘floating’ balance wheel remains as slick as ever, and now (with the removal of the engraved signature below) has one less element to contend with when vying for the wearer’s attention.  

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The new LM101 models eschew the traditional ‘Legacy Machine’ engravature, freeing up space for the indications and the main dial’s streaky lacqueur finish to visually breathe.  

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At a very broad, generalised level, the mechanics of the LM101 marshall it into the same dichotomy as the [original] Lange 1. (Both use asymmetry to great effect in their dials and are known for extremely ornate movements with an unmistakable look, inspired by historical source material.) Good thing then that it’s largely ‘business as usual’: with the new LM101 iterations powered by a movement developed in-house bearing the same name. 

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Fortunately, the characteristic Kari Voutilainen-designed movement makes its return, identifiable by the large horizontally arrayed bridges.

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Built from the ground up to be, in Max Büsser’s own words, “as thin and small as possible” (taking into account, of course, the unconventional location of the regulator) the LM101 is in fact, a deep-cut homage to his passion for 19th century pocket watches — hence the large 14mm balance wheel, oscillating at what many modern watchmakers would consider to be a fairly languid pace (2.5Hz). What has changed, however, is the precise make of hairspring: a proprietary double-ended construction, identical to the kind used in last year’s Moser collaboration. Add to this the bold and deeply idiosyncratic architecture of the movement (finished by none other than Kari Voutilainen) and you’ve got yourself an elegant, technically well-rounded entry in the burgeoning family of LM101 timepieces. 

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Specifications

MB&F Legacy Machine LM101

Diameter: 40 mm
Thickness: 16 mm
Case material: Available in 18k white gold, 18k 5N+ red gold and stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire w/anti-reflective coating
Water-resistance: 30 m

Movement: LM101
Functions: Hours, minutes, power reserve   
Winding: Manual
Frequency: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 45 hours
Strap: Hand-stitched alligator or veal calf, equipped with matching gold, platinum, or stainless steel deployant

Availability: MB&F M.A.D. Galleries in Geneva, Dubai, Hong Kong, Taipei
Price: White Gold / Red Gold (HK$502,000); Stainless steel (HK$417,000)

For further information, visit MB&F online.

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