Hands-On: MB&F Legacy Machine 101 Platinum

When it was launched in 2014, the Legacy Machine 101 was the first MB&F timepiece to carry a movement that was designed by the brand itself. It had – and still has – the most classic looks of any MB&F timepiece, and was (and still is) the brand’s most accessible wristwatch. In January of this year, ahead of SIHH, the independent watchmaker released a new model, and we had the good fortune to spend some time with it recently.

The floating balance wheel is a hallmark of the Legacy Machine collection.

The floating balance wheel is a hallmark of the Legacy Machine collection.

The Legacy Machine 101 Platinum is limited to 33 pieces (news piece here), and follows on from the limited edition LM 101 Frost that was released last year (our story). This new model features a platinum case and a blue dial – MB&F has been pairing blue dials with platinum cases for some time, it’s a handsome combination that looks the business.

The blue dial features a brushed and striped texture that is bright, and attractive. Sitting slightly above this dial, you’ll find two smaller white lacquer dials – one to indicate the hours and minutes (at the two o’clock position), and a power reserve dial (at the six o’clock position). The time dial features Roman numerals, while the power reserve dial features Arabic numerals, and both dials have blue PVD coated hands that are made from gold.

Both hands are about the same length but you can easily distinguish between the hour hand and the minute hand because the hour hand is tipped with an arrow.

Both hands are about the same length but you can easily distinguish between the hour hand and the minute hand because the hour hand is tipped with an arrow.

As with previous LM101 watches, the power reserve hand moves from left (full) to right (empty) – there has been some debate about this on Instagram and some of the bulletin boards, where people say they prefer to have the hand move from right (full) to left (empty) but we’re fine with the set-up as it is now. It didn’t feel strange or odd, and we reckon that even people that prefer it the other way round will get used to it quite quickly. It’s far from a deal breaker.

As attractive as the blue dial and lacquer sub-dials are, our eyes were always drawn to the beautiful, large balance wheel. It measures 14mm in diameter – the same size as the wheel on the Legacy Machine 1 – and here, it just dominates the dial. Keep in mind, the Legacy Machine 1 has a larger 44mm case but the same size balance wheel. Basically, because the LM101 has a smaller 40mm case, the 14mm balance wheel takes up a larger amount of dial real estate. The dial is also home to the movement’s escapement and anchor, and all these elements in motion make for an animated dial that immediately grabs attention.

The Legacy Machine 101 focuses only on the essentials, you get time and power reserve complications only.

The Legacy Machine 101 focuses only on the essentials, you get time and power reserve complications only.

In terms of legibility, the LM101 Platinum is top notch. Despite the fact that the balance wheel encroaches slightly on the view of the time dial, you’ll never struggle to get the time. Both dial and hands lack lume material however, so you’re not going to be able to see the time or the power reserve when there’s insufficient light.

On the wrist, the Legacy Machine 101 is a comfortable companion. Although the case is made of platinum, it isn’t an overly heavy watch that you’ll feel weighing down your wrist – it doesn’t feel top heavy either. And, if you’ve got meagre-sized wrists (as we do), which can’t deal with larger watches, you’ll appreciate the 40mm case size.

The LM101 looks magnificent in Dubai sunlight. The watch's dial loves to play with light.

The LM101 looks magnificent in Dubai sunlight. The watch’s dial loves to play with light.

As a result of its 16mm case thickness, you’ll need to coax this watch under sleeves (it can be done though). We’d like to point out here that while the LM101 was meant to be more wearable than other MB&F timepieces, it certainly wasn’t designed to be a dress watch. (Why would you ever want to hide that stunning dial under a shirt cuff anyway?)

The black strap that is offered with this platinum reference is supple and thin, and so wrapped around our wrist with the greatest of ease. Matched with short, angled lugs, the watch sat securely and comfortably on our wrist. As we only had a limited amount of time with this watch, we can’t comment on long term wearability but based on our short term experience with it, we’re confident it will be a solid everyday piece.

You get a platinum pin/buckle with the LM101 Platinum.

You get a platinum pin/buckle with the LM101 Platinum.

Within the LM101 Platinum sits a hand-wound calibre with a single barrel, which offers a power reserve of 45 hours. The movement was designed in-house by MB&F, it is unique to this watch and, as you’d expect, its calling card is its magnificent aesthetic design and finish. For those facets, MB&F turned to a friend for help.

Kari Voutilainen, who MB&F has worked with several times, ensured that the calibre is aesthetically pleasing to look at, and finished to perfection. Four bridges dominate the landscape seen via the sapphire caseback, and viewed with a loupe, you can really appreciate the incredible level of detail lavished on the hand finished movement.

You can see Geneva stripes on the bridges, polished bevels and gold chatons with polished countersinks – every detail is breathtaking, and the result is pure high-end horology. We’re used to seeing complicated, beautifully finished movements on MB&F’s higher-end watches, and we’re pleased that you get almost the same experience even with the baby Legacy Machine 101.

What’s missing? This is, by and large, a traditional watch with a round case, so the architecture of the movement doesn’t have to be overly complicated, other than allowing for the balance wheel to sit suspended above the dial. And, as we said earlier, this watch offers time and power reserve complications, which doesn’t call for a hugely complicated movement.

The MB&F battle-axe is visible on the crown at the four o'clock position.

The MB&F battle-axe is visible on the crown at the four o’clock position.

MB&F’s products have a reputation for being built to a very high standard, and you can certainly see that with the Legacy Machine 101 Platinum. Just holding the watch in hand, you get the sense that you’re holding something special, and something unique. The view on both sides of the case is incredible, and the watch just feels like a million bucks – there’s absolutely nothing out of place that we’d want to see changed.

If you look at all the elements combined – the dial, the movement, as well as the overall fit and finish, the LM101 Platinum is a seriously enticing proposition from a brand that seamlessly bridges classical watchmaking with modern horological ingenuity. So, even if the LM101 Platinum was not a limited edition piece, we imagine it would still be highly sought after by collectors and fans of the brand.

The floating balance wheel is a thing of beauty. Note, the watch was running when we photographed it.

The floating balance wheel is a thing of beauty. Note, the watch was running when we photographed it.

The MB&F Legacy Machine 101 Platinum carries a retail price of US $72,300, and you can experience it at the M.A.D. Gallery Dubai in Al Serkal Avenue. You can check out the gallery’s website here.

If you want to learn more about the first Legacy Machine 101 reference, read our original story by clicking here.

To learn more about MB&F, click here.

Our thanks to the MB&F and M.A.D. Gallery Dubai team for arranging for HME to spend some time with the Legacy Machine 101 Platinum.

Howdy! Want to discuss something? Leave us a comment.