MB&F is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Legacy Machine this year, something we discussed with Max Busser himself not long ago, and they’ve brought out one of the original prototypes to put a point on it. The watch, known as the “Longhorn” for its distinctive lug design, will appear in the Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo Nov. 7th auction in Geneva, with a portion of the results going to the Save the Rhino International foundation. As far as prototypes go, this is a special watch, especially for an LM1, with some unique features and yes, even quirks.
The “Longhorn” makes an immediate departure from other LM1 watches by ditching the white enamel dials in favor of glossy black units and contrasting blue hands. This is a configuration not found on other Legacy Machines, and when set atop the rhodium-plated base plate sets an informal tone, bordering on sporty. Further still, this prototype was built into a steel case, much like the 17 “Final Edition” models released in 2017. All this adds up to one of the most distinctive looking LM1 examples to ever be produced, and one I’d welcome in production form at some point in the future.
The first Legacy Machine appeared in 2011, and quickly stood out thanks to the “flying balance wheel” suspended over the center of the dial via two arches. The first models featured hollowed arch supports, however this prototype has been fitted with the modern, single piece arms that provide a more organic feel to this piece of architecture. A pair of dials at 3 and 9 o’clock levitate off the base plate, each housing a separate hour and minute hand. At 6 o’clock you’ll find the 3-dimensional power reserve indication by a staff that raises and falls with the reserve. At 12 o’clock the escape wheel and palette fork can be observed, allowing a rather dramatic viewing of the escapement at work.
While much of the inner workings of the movement have been brought to the dial side, the view around back is still sublime thanks to the handiwork of Kari Voutilainen, who provided the movement design and finish specification, with the development handled by none other than Jean-François Mojon.
The name “Longhorn” comes from the …long horns, or lugs. The feature was explored for the final design but became problematic when trying to decide where the spring bar holes should be placed. Close to the case? Nearer to the tip of the lug? For this example, two sets of holes appear inside the lug, offering the wearer the option to move the strap further or closer to the case. The production models featured shorter lugs as decided by Max and designer Eric Giroud, but the shape and feel of these longer lugs changed the dynamic of the watch rather notably. Perhaps the idea will be revisited in future projects.
The LM1 “Longhorn” will be offered in Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo Nov. 7th auction in Geneva, and I suspect the hammer will fall on a rather princely sum. A portion of the money raised will go to the Save the Rhino International foundation, and one lucky collector will receive, in my opinion, the most interesting LM1 ever produced. MB&F.