Legacy Machine 101 receives a touch of frost

MB&F has just made the already desirable Legacy Machine 101 even more attractive by lavishing it with a finishing style that was popular on pocket watches in the 18th and 19th century. The result is the drool-inducing Legacy Machine 101 Frost.

The frost finish is bound to make the timepiece a treat to admire under different lighting. This is the red-gold Legacy Machine 101 Frost.

The frost finish is bound to make the timepiece a treat to admire under different lighting. This is the red-gold Legacy Machine 101 Frost.

The exquisite frosting work that you see on MB&F’s latest circular reference isn’t the first time that owner and creative director, Maximilian Büsser, has turned to the past. In fact, the Legacy Machine family was born because, according to MB&F, Büsser asked: “What would have happened if I had been born in 1867 instead of 1967? In the early 1900s the first wristwatches appear and I would want to create three-dimensional machines for the wrist. There are no Grendizers, Star Wars or fighter jets for my inspiration but I do have pocket watches, the Eiffel Tower and Jules Verne. So what might my early 20th century machines look like? They had to be round (tradition) and three-dimensional (MB&F Machine): Legacy Machines are the answer”.

As you know, the Legacy Machine One was released in 2011, followed by the Legacy Machine Two in 2013, and the original Legacy Machine 101 (LM101) premiered in 2014 (read our original story here). Of the three, the LM101 is the most classically styled piece because although it is still an exquisite piece of haute horology, it featured a smaller, more traditional 40mm case. It was therefore a strong option for MB&F to add even more classic aesthetic touches to it, namely the frost finishing that many early pocket watches featured.

We have no doubt the LM 101 Frost will sell out in no time. It's gorgeous in both rose-gold and yellow-gold (pictured).

We have no doubt the LM 101 Frost will sell out in no time. It’s gorgeous in both rose-gold and yellow-gold (pictured).

This is 2015 however, so while the classic frosting finish is beautifully presented on the LM101 Frost, the technique MB&F uses to create this finish is a bit more modern. Frosting on early pocket watches was created by subjecting the components to a special acid mixture, and then heating it on an open flame. As you can imagine, this is an incredibly dangerous process not only for the craftsman but for the environment. The results however were stunning, you were left with a silvery-white effect that looked similar to frost, and this finish while aesthetically pleasing was deployed more to protect surfaces from oxidation, as watches and clocks in those days were not water resistant at all.

As the years rolled on, watchmakers realised the hazards of that earlier process, and explored alternative methods to creating the same finish and quality. The solution was to very carefully brush the surface with a wire brush, however this approach made it very difficult to achieve a uniform result because too much pressure could ruin the target finish with an uneven polish.

The LM101 movement boasts an incredible finish. The top of the movement's main plate also serves as the dial of the watch. Ingenious!

The LM101 movement boasts an incredible finish. The top of the movement’s main plate also serves as the dial of the watch. Ingenious!

Even today creating frosted finishing is a challenge, there are very few craftsman who have the skills and experience to do the work. The most modern way to create brushed frosting is to burnish the surface (compress the metal without removing material), and this creates a finish so hard that it is impossible to hand engrave.

As you can see from the pictures, the frosted finish on the LM101 Frost is exquisite and really pops because MB&F has encircled the dial (which is actually just the top of the movement’s plate) within a high-polish bezel. Even the top of the beautifully curved lugs are finished with high-polish, whereas the sides of the case and lugs are brushed.

Domed sapphire crystal protects the floating balance wheel and the drool-inducing dial.

Domed sapphire crystal protects the floating balance wheel and the drool-inducing dial.

As with the original Legacy Machine 101, you get two slightly domed information dials; one that shows the watch’s power reserve (six o’clock position) and the other that displays minutes and hours. The dial itself is, despite that magnificent frosting work, is still dominated by the Legacy Machine calling card – the suspended balance wheel. The in-house LM101 makes a return on the LM101 Frost, and – as before – its drop dead gorgeous thanks to the joint talents of MB&F and Kari Voutilainen.

The Legacy Machine 101 Frost is offered in 18K red-gold and 18K yellow-gold, limited to just 33 pieces each. Both carry a retail price of US $64,000.

To learn more about MB&F, click here.

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