The dome. De koepel. Le dôme. Die kuppel. In tholus. Купол. Almost every language has a word for the dome because almost every culture uses the structure and understands its benefits. The dome is a wonder of engineering and the most efficient use of materials to create the largest span possible. Quite plainly, the dome is awesome. Like really, super awesome.
Expanded upon from the simple arch, a dome is basically a series of arches rotating around a common center creating a half sphere. This half sphere is able to support itself over large open spans because the weight of the materials are pushing down and out, transferring the force to the base ring. Without needing multiple columns or support structures, the dome then creates the biggest volume possible for any structure which can be calculated using Euclidian Geometry. But forget Euclid, he was late to the proverbial game when he developed his system to define shapes. The dome architectural structure dates back to pre-history, with the earliest known examples estimated to have been constructed between 11,700 and 19,280 BC!! Over twenty thousand years ago people were building small domed structures out of mammoth tusks and bones. What have you made lately?
Honestly though, this is the reason that the dome is so fundamental to culture and society, because it is an artifact from our ancient past. The modern architectural dome, which was probably originally developed by the ancient Persians, dot our major cities and skylines across the world and give testament to the ability of the engineers and craftsmen of history. For myself, the dome is a very emotional experience. I stare up at the great span of stone, feel the enormous weight of history looming over me, and feel infused with the knowledge that I am a part of that great history now as I sit beneath the behemoth colossal roof that has stood for thousands of years. My personal favorite is the Pantheon in Rome.
With my love of domes, it came as no surprise when I fell in love with this week’s subject(s), the MB&F Legacy Machines LM1 and LM2. The absolute moment I first saw the LM1 I knew I was looking at my favorite watch of all time. Being a watch enthusiast, many will know that the moment you realize this is very similar to the moment you know you are going to marry the love of your life, or the moment your first child is being born. I apologize for my slight tendency for hyperbole but for me it truly was pure and unadulterated love.
Imagine my surprise when the LM2 came out and it was a new take on the LM1 but still retained all the breathtaking beauty with a more technically advanced movement. Let’s just say it was a happy day! Two models of Legacy Machines from my favorite brand that just happened to be similar enough that the love flowed between the two. Listening to Max Büsser explain the LM2 it is easy to understand why they share so much DNA. Many of the HM models are wildly different (much to my delight) but the LM1 and LM2 are very similar with regards to shape, style, and details. This is because they were developed in tandem, with the LM2 making a departure for the complicated as well as the beauty.
The LM1 is, and always will be, my first true love of the LM series. The dual timezone dials flanking the suspended oversize balance wheel is a treasure to behold. There are many aspects of watches, watchmaking, and style that attract me to timepieces, yet one that is the strongest is depth and mechanics. With the LM series, a giant domed crystal covers a display that is unlike anything else in the industry. I say this even as I know there are other wondrous domed watches, many with functions and mechanics spectacular in their own right. But the LM series does it with as much class and style as any watch out there, and they do it on their own terms. A modern watch company imagining what it would have done to push the boundaries 100 years ago without the modern inspirations it utilizes for its HM series.
The movements of the LM1 and the LM2 are amazing, each with unique features that set them apart yet tie them together as brothers. The LM1 starts with an amazingly beautiful balance wheel suspended above the dial, and adds a bridge design that almost gives them away as the modern, space-age inspired company that they are. Throw on top of that a (possibly world’s first) vertical power reserve indicator and you have something to gaze at all day long. The case is beautifully proportioned, twin crowns, and an open back to view the perfectly finished movement, sans balance wheel, rounds off the LM1. Further adding to the pedigree of the movement are the two men responsible for the design and finishing - Jean-François Mojon and Kari Voutilainen, two kings of the industry.
The LM2 continues where the LM1 left off and takes the allure even farther. Still there is the wonderful dome, the case and movement finishing, the dial style, and the incredible suspended balance wheel. One of the twin dials is now gone, as well as the vertical power reserve indicator but what has replaced it can only be described as pure geekery! Of course it wouldn’t be necessary if not for another, small, new addition to the LM2, a second balance wheel. Boom. Ok you already knew that, but still, I stand by my boom.
That second, gorgeous, shapely balance wheel isn’t there just for the good looks. It is there because this timepiece is a real timepiece! Not that the other one isn’t, but this one takes timekeeping a big leap forward. The two balance wheels make this watch a more consistent timekeeper as the period of both are averaged by that other addition on the dial. That addition is a differential, and it makes this watch an unusual creation for MB&F. Started as a company that made machines which happen to tell the time, MB&F created this machine for the specific purpose of telling time! How very bourgeois. A utilitarian machine if I ever saw one. NOT!
The LM2 takes a, now mundane, task and makes it amazing to watch and relatively easy to understand. I say relatively because while most people won’t understand exactly how the differential works, they will understand the concept and see a connection between the two balance wheels and the single dial. At the very least that should be enough to get any watch-heart beating. Dividing the output of the twin balance wheels into one steady motion for the dial is a true feat. It actually is a feat that is seen very, very, little in the world of watchmaking. There have been examples of course, and at least enough to make a nice little list. But when considering the sheer number of modern tourbillons, column wheel chronographs, or even minute repeaters, the dual-balanced differential averaged timekeeper is a rare bird indeed.
Mr. Büsser even stated that the inspiration came from Philippe Dufour’s Duality released back in 1996, another great masterpiece of modern watchmaking. But Max wanted the wearer to be able to see the “ballet” of the engineering, the movement of the differential, so it was all moved front and center and I could not agree more with his decision. For me, to be able to see what is going on is what is great about watches like this. They pull back the curtain of the wizard and show the magic behind the scenes. If only I had the cash to strap one on my wrist!
I could rant and rave about the LM series all day, and if you ask my co-workers they might tell you I have done that on multiple occasions. However I would like to bring it back and close out with a statement of why it affects me so much. I love the modern world. Science, technology, space exploration, robots building robots, cars that can drive themselves, and the ability to search for and learn anything you could ever think of with the click of a mouse is absolutely fantastic. We definitely live in the most fascinating and wonderful time so far in the history of this world.
And yet, there is a longing in my soul. I read stories of times long past, I think of those that came before and the world they inhabited, not to mention the things they accomplished without any of the technological advancements that I spoke of just a second ago. This longing fills me with a different kind of fascination. A fascination for skills that are lost to modern technology, and a thirst for a time where the entire world wasn’t too complicated for even the most intelligent to fully understand. Granted, knowing that gluons help quarks to combine and form protons is incredibly cool, but just knowing that makes you know that you don’t actually know anything. It’s a weird feeling that has only developed in the modern world I believe. The more we know the less we really understand as the world gets more and more complicated.
The LM series helps me with those feelings. It combines an intense love for modern and wonderful, but truly pays homage to that which came before. It allows my psyche to abstain from choosing one over the other. Instead of pulling me in two directions, it lets me glide into one, much better direction. The LM1 and LM2 are the apotheosis of science, technology, and the history it was born of. For that, I am forever in love.
I feel a breakdown coming on. No, not that kind, this kind!!!
- Wowza Factor – 10 Like I said before, true love. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. The LM1 won two GPHG awards last year.
- Late Night Lust Appeal – 214 gn » 2,098.623 m/s2 It changed what I thought a watch could make me feel for an object, so lust I will!
- M.G.R. – N/A Since I am reviewing the series, I cannot judge the movements as they are different. But an average would probably rank in the 68-70 range since they are both incredibly beautiful and absolutely unique!
- Added-Functionitis – Moderate Two watches, two “basic” extra functions with a second time zone on the LM1 and a dual-balanced differential on the LM2 don’t create much in the added functions category so I would prescribe standard strength ‘Gotta-HAVE-That’ cream for the still enjoyable horological swelling.
- Clams Per Pound – $250,000 More than each one sold for but how much you would probably need to pay to grasp one out of the loving collectors’ hands! Oh wait though, they aren’t limited edition, which means I could get both brand new for that!!! I think I need to make a few calls…
- Ouch Outline – 13 – Lego Time. Stepping on so many Legos! In an earlier article I said that the ALS Double Split was tied for my number 1 grail watch. Meet the other.
- Mermaid Moment – Clicking a Bookmark for Hodinkee. I have many blogs I check every day, and in 2011 it was no different. The morning of Oct. 4, 2011 I clicked a bookmark to check what Hodinkee was up to for the day… and the rest was history.
I say to you that MB&F is one of a kind and you should definitely give them another look if you haven't in a while. They just released the HM5 in a new version of Rose Gold and Titanium and it continues to prove they can do sexy with space-age.
As usual, I do not own any of the images and all are found freely on the interwebs. Come back next week for more!
Have a great day and DFTBA!
Cheers & Happy Watching,