A New Flight of the Imagination: MB&F Legacy Machine Split Escapement x Eddie JaquetBy Israel Ortega
To the delight of fans of independent watchmaking, the casual but always honorable style of MB&F’s maximum precision and functional and aesthetic quality enchants us with a new iteration in the new MB&F Legacy Machine Split Escapement x Eddy Jaquet. The result is an exercise that elevates the horology of Max Büsser and friends to a more artistic, literary, and virtually fantastic world; one that has been defined as such by a famous Swiss engraver who today rewrites the narrative that enlightens this limited series.
Eddy Jaquet is a Neuchâtel-based engraver with more than thirty years of experience who, according to Max Büsser, has developed a sensitive perspective on engraving heritage (applied art, artistic engraving, illustration), and more broadly on history and culture. Jaquet’s curriculum covers setting and enameling work, not only in watchmaking, but also in jewelry. A recurrent theme in his art is the drawing of human figures. Hence, Jaquet is well versed in the depiction of the most complicated shapes and forms. Now, his rich list of achievements has been added to MB&F’s catalog of creativity in the form of the new LM Split Escapement Eddy Jaquet, an edition made up by eight unique pieces decorated with illustrations inspired by the novels of Jules Verne and born from the extraordinary imagination and skill of the engraver.
The Legacy Machine (LM) Split Escapement is one of MB&F’s most technical timepieces. Originally presented in 2017 and featuring a bespoke movement developed by Stephen McDonnell, the watch proposes a new architecture where the balance wheel and its hairspring —the regulating organ of the watch— is located away from the main mechanical system, namely the mainplate with the gear train and the power supply system, contrary to the watchmaker’s canons that suggest proximity of the components to improve stability and minimize interference with isochronism such as air and vibrations. The distance between the balance wheel and the impulse pallet on the other side of the plate reaches 11.78 mm, the length of the axis that pierces the movement and projects through the dial to support the oscillator. The balance wheel’s inertia and shaft stiffness are key factors in this delicate equation and the LM SE’s mechanics have been precisely designed and calibrated to ensure its integrity. Despite the technical challenges, the mechanism of the Split Escapement favors a refined aesthetic, enhanced by the play of symmetries and proportions that follow the lines that characterize each Legacy Machine.
The canvas —the large surface of the mainplate, which also serves as the dial— was always there to be taken advantage of. The LM Split Escapement offers a huge surface where an ingenious artist such as Jaquet can reproduce a number of ideas. As mentioned, the inspiration came from Jules Verne himself and his fantastic works.
During the documentation phase prior to the conception of the series, Jaquet read a number of Jules Verne books by the 19th century French author. To imagine the illustrations that would become the works, Jaquet sketched his own original ideas on stencils of the dials depicting important scenes of each story, sometimes combining several scenes in a single dial as a narrative graphic tapestry. In a way, Jaquet might have lovingly reimagined some of Verne’s passages.
The eight Jules Verne stories illustrated in this limited-edition LM SE series are Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon, Around the World in Eighty Days, Five Weeks in a Balloon, The Adventures of Captain Hatteras, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Michael Strogoff, and Robur the Conqueror. All of Jaquet’s illustrations are original, that is, the artist created the illustrations based on his experience in reading the works, with not one original scene lifted from Verne’s works.
The engraving work was not as straighforward as one might think, not only because of the limited area Jaquet had to work with, but also because of the design of the watch, since the mainplate/dial is not uniformly thick. In certain areas, the plate was 1.15 mm thick, so Jaquet could have generous dimensions in which to engrave even deep reliefs. However, the three particularly critical areas of the dial were only 0.35 mm thick. They therefore required very gentle work to ensure that the overall aesthetics of the engraving were not compromised. Each of the eight unique LM SE timepieces is featured within by an 18-carat red gold case, measuring 44 millimeters. A striking sapphire dome protects the graphic scene created by the Swiss engraver.
Apart from this new and original collaboration, MB&F’s role throughout this year has been one of high prominence, with a very important series of launches so much so that Max very well may deserve an honorary title. In a 2020 marked by rarity and uncertainty, it’s great to see how some of this favorite independent brands don’t stop trying to make a difference. You only have to look back over the last twelve months to appreciate how active Max Büsser and friends have been. Let’s take a brief tour of these milestones together:
Last October, at the International Salon of Alta Relojería (SIAR) in Mexico, we met before anyone else the MB&F Thunderdome, the fastest multiaxial tourbillon in the world (in which Eric Coudray and Kari Voutilainen participated). Then, in January in Dubai, we got to know first-hand the yellow gold version of the Perpetual Calendar (another collaboration McDonnell, originally launched in 2017). On that same occasion, we witnessed the debut of the brilliant HM10 Bulldog, one of the watches that brought us smiles and joy in this year of unrest and frustration. And later on, it didn’t take long for MB&F to join forces with Edouard Meylan and H. Moser & Cie. to achieve a couple of epic pieces where originality is accentuated by maximum precision and a touch of old school artistry. We refer, of course, to the LM101 with a Moser flavor and the Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon finished by MB&F. In short, the creative streak of Moser & Co. was not affected at all by the nasty virus.
The MB&F LM Split Escapement x Eddy Jaquet is another milestone that reminds us why we love independent watchmaking so much and especially that from Max Büsser and his buddies. Today, the unstoppable imagination of Max is refreshed by a touch of aesthetic classicism emanating from literature and the fine arts —as envisioned by Eddy Jaquet—, giving those eight Legacy Machines Split Escapement watches a new fantastic and evocative aura.
Hand-wound mechanical; bespoke creation developed for MB&F by Stephen McDonnell with plit escapement system (14 mm balance wheel suspended above the dial and the anchor under the manipulate (dial) and movement
18K red gold, 44mm diameter x 17.5mm height, sapphire crystal on both sides, 30-meter water resistance
Brown hand-stitched alligator strap with white-gold folding buckle
8-piece limited edition