Hands On & Live Photos: MB&F x H. Moser LM101 And H. Moser x MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon
I love a surprise! And in the case of the newly-minted Moser x MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon and MB&F x Moser LM101, I am surprised not once, but twice: two distinctive watches that somehow manage the tricky task of maintaining the core brand identity of the lead brand for each while successfully integrating identifiable cues from the other.
Independents are called that for a reason
Nine years ago this week, I had the pleasure of attending a legendary watch event: the Purists’ 10th Anniversary celebration in Las Vegas. A centerpiece of the event was a lengthy panel discussion among a set of leading independent watchmakers, including Max Büsser of MB&F, Peter Speake-Marin, Ludovic Ballouard, Bart Grönefeld, and others.
Not too surprisingly, when the discussion turned to why these creators had chosen the independent path, a major theme of their responses was the desire to go it alone, most having left larger organizations to have the freedom to pursue their individual visions.
Even Büsser, whose company then and now includes the words “and friends” in its very name, was very clear that while he treasured the benefits of collaboration, at the end of the day the key decisions about each watch were his alone.
So, while behind the scenes the independents do work together, (with Andreas Strehler as a prime example on movement design), it’s not often that we see collaborations out in the open, especially when it involves co-branding that potentially threatens the distinct identity of each brand.
The Urwerk x De Bethune Only Watch 2019 model and Urwerk x Laurent Ferrier Arpal One for Only Watch 2017 come to mind, as does the Chaykin/Andersen Joker Automaton. But to me these are notable exceptions to the rule. And while MB&F has executed other cross-brand collaborations with Reuge, L’Épée 1839, and Loupe System, these have been for items other than wristwatches.
Too often, hybrid collaborations end up reminding me of the Amphicar: a decent boat for a car, and a decent car for a boat, but neither a decent car nor a decent boat. Happily, this pair of joint efforts by H. Moser and MB&F fare considerably better.
Building on an existing collaborations
While the idea of a two-directional, branded collaboration between these two noted independent brands wasn’t anything I would have expected, it doesn’t come completely from out of the blue.
Precision Engineering AG, a member of the same family-led group that owns H. Moser, has worked with MB&F for more than ten years and supplies balance springs to MB&F. When Büsser contacted H. Moser CEO Edouard Meylan about the possibility of using the Precision Engineering double hairspring and Moser-style fumé dial in a watch, Meylan agreed – on the condition that Moser could create a crossover piece of its own.
As seen above, the resulting H. Moser watch clearly borrows from the design language of MB&F’s wildly successful FlyingT, while at the same time focusing attention on Moser’s contributions: the cylindrical-spring flying tourbillon, based on the same spring supplied by Precision Engineering to MB&F for the Thunderdome, and the stunning fumé dial.
Moser x MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon: a closer look
While that burgundy dial on the example I handled and photographed was the first thing that caught my eye, my attention quickly turned to the prominent flying tourbillon rising from the dial at 12 o’clock and its cylindrical hairspring.
I’m a sucker for dimensionality, but the cylindrical spring is at least as functional as it is aesthetically appealing as its concentric breathing reduces both lateral friction on the pivots and isochronism, according to Moser.
I had plenty of chances to see the tourbillon in action: whoever poised the escapement did a heck of a job as the slightest movement of the watch, so slight the rotor didn’t move, was enough to set the tourbillon in motion – and the movement doesn’t hack, so I had lots of time to admire the swinging of the spring before each time it gradually slowed to a stop.
Depending on your tastes, you will either love or hate another signature feature of the Endeavour: the inclined, transparent sapphire crystal dial with “watermarked” H. Moser logo and its almost vanishingly small hands indicating the hours and minutes.
The concept is to allow the wearer to enjoy the view of the tourbillon and the spectacle of the colored main dial; the effect is cool, but definitely puts this watch into Horological Machine territory as it is, as Büsser is fond of saying about those pieces, a machine that gives the time – definitely not a watch that tells the time at a brief glance.
On the back side, the Caliber HMC 810 automatic movement presents a fairly traditional and pleasing look with clean but not overly elegant finishing. And while we’re on the movement, if you haven’t noticed yet it has something in common with the other 800-series H. Moser calibers – the tourbillon is positioned 90 degrees clockwise from the crown as seen from the dial side of the watch.
Given the choice to place the inclined hours and minutes dial at 6 and the tourbillon behind it at 12 o’clock, the result is a crown that is placed at 9 o’clock. As you can see in the photo above, one pleasing byproduct for left-handed wearers is the clean edge on the right side of the watch; but it does take some getting used to!
The Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon will be offered in five limited editions of 15 examples in steel each, with dials in Ice Blue, Funky Blue, Burgundy, Cosmic Green, and Off-White fumé, the latter with blued hour and minute hands.
In an interesting twist, the Ice Blue version will be sold by Moser exclusively online at www.shop-now.h-moser.com.
MB&F x H. Moser LM101 in more detail
I’ve been a fan of MB&F’s LM101 since its introduction and have come close on a couple of occasions to buying either the yellow gold or pink gold variants. It’s a simple, clean-looking watch that still has the provocative look we’ve come to expect from Büsser and his team. And on the movement side we’re greeted by swooping shapes and dramatic finishes specified by maestro Kari Voutilainen.
For this version of the LM101, MB&F took inspiration from H. Moser’s super-simple “Concept” series, presenting to us a dial-side view devoid of separate subdials and even of a brand designator or brand logo. All we see is the swooping wishbone bridge holding the balance with its new-specification double hairspring; small, simple hands indicating the time and power reserve; and an ocean of fumé color and shadow.
On the reverse, we’re greeted by the familiar look of the LM101 movement with its dramatic shapes and excellent finishing quality, now with a touch of NAC treatment and a switch from black-filled engravings to unfilled ones, yielding a slightly more contemporary look compared to the movements of earlier LM101 versions.
Like the Moser piece, the LM101 does not give up its information on what time it is that easily, at least not at an immediate glance. If it’s important to know, you can always spend an extra second or two looking carefully. And in the meantime, you can enjoy the stars of the show, the Concept-style dial and slow-swinging, suspended balance.
LM101 MB&F x H. Moser is offered in four 15-piece stainless steel limited editions, with dials in Funky Blue, Red, Cosmic Green, and Aqua Blue.
On the wrist . . .
Both of these watches are striking in the light tent, but they only really reach their full visual potential when seen on the wrist and with the play of natural light.
I took the LM101 out into the garden and never did succeed in finding an angle at which the surrounding trees and sky weren’t somehow reflected by the crystal or dial; but for me that only added to the drama provided by the combination of MB&F’s mechanisms and shapes and Moser’s dial magic.
. . . and side by side
As long as I had both pieces, I took the opportunity to do some side-by-side shooting, starting with a setup involving one of my favorite items from MB&F’s M.A.D.Gallery.
On the movement side, getting these two together showed the substantial differences in design and finishing philosophies. To my eye, each has its merits: while the MB&F seems almost to burst out of the case back and benefits from the use of interior angles, gold chatons, and rounded bevels, the more austere (dare I say “Swiss”) Moser design with its clear view of the underside of the tourbillon mechanism held its own for visual interest.
Are they right for you?
I’m guessing that neither one of these watches will serve as the first, or even second, watch in anyone’s collection – although I’m happy to be proven wrong! I haven’t put down my money on either one – yet – but I think they are more than worthy of your (and my) consideration if:
- These striking, and limited, combinations of mechanical prowess and aesthetic pop just knock your socks off.
- You’ve appreciated both brands in the past (but never quite gotten to the point of taking out your wallet), but there’s something about the combination of styles that calls to you.
- Your interest in patronizing independent watchmaking includes an appreciation for this sort of collaboration and you’re keen to see more of it.
- You appreciate the efforts (including the use of steel cases) made by both brands to create fascinating watches at price points well matched to their value.
On the other hand, you might look elsewhere if:
- You’re a devotee of one brand or the other and prefer that brand’s “pure” look to either of these hybrids.
- You’ve bought watches with dramatic dials before and found yourself putting them up for sale soon after.
- Your interest in looking at your wrist is all about timekeeping in a traditional sense.
I had a blast handling, shooting, and wearing these two watches. I’ll look forward to hearing your impressions of them in the comments; in the meantime, happy hunting!
For more information, please visit www.shop-now.h-moser.com
Quick Facts Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser x MB&F
Case: 42 x 19.5 mm, stainless steel with high domed sapphire crystal; height without crystal 9.4 mm; crown at 9 o’clock, sapphire crystal on case back
Dial and hands: main dials in sunburst-pattern fumé: Funky Blue, Burgundy, Cosmic Green, Off-White, and Ice Blue; hours and minutes displayed on 40-degree tilted sapphire crystal dial at 6 o’clock; leaf-shaped hour and minute hands blued on the Off-White reference and with lume on others
Movement: automatic Caliber HMC 810; 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency; one-minute flying tourbillon with cylindrical hairspring; power reserve 72 hours
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: limited series of 15 examples in each of five dial colors (75 total examples)
Price: $79,000 via authorized dealers; Ice Blue edition available only online from www.shop-now.h-moser.com.
Quick Facts LM101 MB&F x H. Moser
Case: 40 x 16 mm, stainless steel with high domed sapphire crystal; box sapphire crystal on case back; double-sided anti-reflective coating on crystals
Dial: sunburst-pattern fumé: Funky Blue, Red, Cosmic Green, and Aqua Blue (the latter for retailer Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons)
Movement: three-dimensional in-house manual-winding MB&F movement; aesthetics and finishing specifications by Kari Voutilainen; Straumann double hairspring; gold chatons with polished countersinks, nineteenth-century style hand-finishing; 18,000 vph/2.5 Hz frequency; power reserve 45 hours
Functions: hours, minutes; power reserve indicator
Limitation: limited series of 15 examples in each of four dial colors (60 total examples)
Price: $52,000 via authorized dealers; Aqua Blue edition available through Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons
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Such stunning photos Gary, I was eagerly awaiting your thoughts in this write-up and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am smitten with the 101, however fall into the category of ‘collection not deep enough to justify’. Hope to see one in the metal one day, and love the idea of combining ethos of independent brands into creations such as this. Based on your experience handling them, and other available photos out there, do you have a favourite dial colour of either reference?