LM101 Frost By MB&F: It’s Surprisingly Warm
by Ian Skellern
MB&F’s Legacy Machines are the avant-garde brand’s take on traditional complications. They answer the question only brand founder Maximilian Büsser thought to ask: “What crazy watches might I have created had I been born 100 years earlier?”
Designing and developing a crazy, non-conformist, spacecraft-type wristwatch from a blank sheet of paper may not be easy, but at least the only constraint aside from money is imagination.
Designing and developing a crazy, non-conformist traditional-type wristwatch is much more difficult because nothing screams CONSERVATIVE! (especially compared to any MB&F Machine) quite like a typical round case.
But Legacy Machines No. 1 and No. 2 (aka LM1 and LM2) have proven that it takes more than a round case to constrain Büsser’s imagination.
The launch of LM101 in 2014 took the collection down an unexpected path − although by now we should always expect the unexpected from MB&F − in that while it looked to all intents and purposes like a smaller-cased version of LM1, it was a actually a completely new watch from the ground up featuring the brand’s first in-house movement (see LM101 By MB&F: Distilling The Very Essence Of Time).
With LM101 Frost, MB&F has added a new string to the brand’s traditional bow, which until now had been strung with reinterpretations of traditional complications and mechanisms: finish.
Frost earns it’s moniker from the distinctive sparkling surface created by the traditional application − or more accurately, the modern rendition of the traditional application − of what is commonly referred to as Breguet frosted finish. (Is there anything horological that Breguet didn’t do?)
Abraham-Louis Breguet’s frosted finish technique was developed to protect dials and movement components from oxidation − which was much more of an issue then than now because cases were not water-resistant. However, his method involved dangerous chemicals and acids.
The modern traditional approach involves careful brushing of the surface with a rotating wire brush. However, obtaining a consistent surface is extremely difficult and today there are very few artisans able to apply a beautiful frosted finish.
One side effect of this type of frosted finish is that the surface becomes extremely hard, so hard that it cannot be engraved. For this reason, the frosted finish on the back of the movement is applied by the far easier method of bead blasting, which, while not providing such a spectacular finish, does leave the surface amenable to engraving.
A visual effect of the LM101 Frost’s frosted “dial” (it’s actually the top plate of the movement) is that suspended balance appears even larger, and the escapement stands out more and is easier to see.
Those elegant arches supporting the balance are each milled from a solid block of metal and require many hours of polishing to obtain the required luster. And those white enamel-looking subdials for the time and power reserve indications aren’t enamel at all, but a special tightened lacquer (laque tendu in French).
LM101 Frost is a limited edition of 33 pieces in red gold and 18 pieces in yellow gold. This is the first yellow gold model in MB&F’s ten-year history, the anniversary of which the brand celebrates this year.
Case: 40 x 10 mm, available in red gold and yellow gold
Movement: in-house caliber designed and developed by MB&F
Functions: hours, minutes; 45-hour power reserve indication
Limitation: 33 pieces in red gold and 18 pieces in yellow gold.