The Legacy Machine Split Escapement was first launched in 2017 in four white gold “frosted” editions. This new limited edition has now been released in titanium for 2019.
You will recognise the colour and a few other features used in other Legacy machines, however this machine appears to be a simplified version.
Appearances can be deceiving though and despite the technical hurdles faced in creating the first Split Escapement editions, the new engine has still also been designed with aesthetics and classicism in mind.
MB&F always seem to be pushing boundaries within their complications, the idea of the Split Escapement is no different:
There is one technical constant that defines every single watch in the MB&F Legacy Machine collection. Functions may vary, and different complications come to the fore in each edition, but the suspended balance wheel remains literally and metaphorically above everything else. In Legacy Machine Split Escapement, this feature is not only highlighted, but raised to another level of achievement.
Face & case
The case of the Split Escapement has been crafted from grade 5 titanium and is 44mm wide. At 17.5mm thick, it is pretty deep, but this is due to the domed sapphire crystal that is raised in the centre, rather than the whole watch being that thick.
Sitting below the highest point of the dome, the balance wheel spins almost 12mm above the movement, appearing to almost levitate on its own. This necessitates an unusually long balance arbour, which goes through
the centre of the movement and projects up through the dial to support the oscillator. The balance arbour is also fitted at both ends with anti-shock jewel bearings, and the bridge that holds the anchor and escape wheel is separately fixed for optimal fine adjustment.
The other essential parts of the escapement, which provide the driving impulse (anchor and escape wheel), are hidden on the underside of the movement, which can be seen from the reverse of the watch and is where the name of the piece came from “Split Escapement”.
Above everything else, the balance bridge straddles over the balance wheel in a V shape linking the top of the balance wheel arbour to the dial at 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock. This is a familiar feature, found on one of its predecessors, the Legacy Machine Perpetual, which seems to have ultimately shed its complication to reveal the innovation behind it. This longer balance arbour has a higher mass, which potentially detracts from the amount of energy ultimately transmitted to the oscillator, so the Split Escapement engine is driven by two barrels in parallel.
The dial is stunning, CVD-treated with green and decorated with a spectacular sun-ray finish, it seems to shimmer when it catches the light from alternating angles and makes the colour vary between blue and green, appearing slightly iridescent.
There are 3 bright white sub dials for various functions sitting on top of the green main dial; the time can be read at 12 o’clock (with roman numerals) 1 – 12) , the power reserve indication at 4 o’clock and the date at 8 o’clock. All can be read using the distinctive blued hands
The back is just as beautiful as the front. Whilst the balance of LM Split Escapement beats just under the dial-side dome of sapphire crystal, its impulse jewel, anchor and escapement wheel are on the other side of the movement, visible through the transparent sapphire crystal back. In fact, much of the movement can be seen from the rear, all polished and shiny in different finishes to add to the effect – the plates are also decorated with equidistant lines to add another different look to the finish.
The crown site at 2 o’clock and appears fairly understated with only short engraved grip lines heading towards the piece and the familiar “axe” logo that can be seen in many MB&Fs pieces. Unlike many of the other Legacy Machines, the watch is not completely symmetrical, as there is only one crown on the right side.
There is also a discrete, push-button on the case next to the date dial at 8 o’clock, for simple adjustment of the date.
The movement was developed for MB&F by Stephen McDonnell and is a hand wound movement, featuring double mainspring barrels.
Featuring 35 jewels the balance frequency is 2.5Hz / 18,000bph, which is quite a relaxed pace, but fully wound, should last up to 72 hours.
The strap can be provided in black or brown hand-stitched alligator, with a folding buckle to match the case.
Unfortunately, my shot of the strap and buckle did not come out, so sorry, no pictures of it.
Antique pocket watches of 18th and 19th century used to feature a frosted finish, where acid baths were used to achieve this effect. Modern methods of replicating a frosted finish, involves manually burnishing a metal surface with a wire brush. The previous version of the Split Escapement was a celebration of this technique and the frosted finish was recreated by hand for all 72 pieces of the launch editions.
The first editions were available in 18 of each of the following finishes:
– Blue frosted finish paired with rhodium-plated movement;
– Ruthenium frosting with similarly darkened movement;
– Red gold frosting and movement;
– Yellow-gold frosting and movement finish;
The MB&F Legacy Machine Split Escapement Titanium Edition is definitely a good looking watch. It is also easy to read and a pleasure to look at – I found myself just staring at it without realising.
Not being a fan of green as a colour, I have to say that the shiny green/blue hues bursting from the dial beneath everything really makes it.
Legacy Machine Split Escapement has a big face and the dome makes it fairly thick, but it wears well and looks good on my “man wrist”, the shiny dome allowing the depth of the watch to slip under my cuff with little fuss, which is always a plus for me.
If I was to be brutally honest, if I was purchasing for my own collection, I would probably choose a less understated Legacy Machine, but that could be just my flamboyant alter ego talking – I am struggling to find fault with how it looks or the technical wonder within the LM SE.
The Legacy Machine Split Escapement Titanium Edition in Green is priced at 64,000 CHF and limited to 33 pieces, which means 15 more are available in this edition than each of the original 4 white gold editions that were previously released – I am sure they will sell out quickly though (if they are not already sold!!).