"At MB&F we live as artists and an artist doesn’t have plans, trajectories or objectives. I don’t think he should. I think an artist should let himself be free and wake up tomorrow morning and have a different idea. All I know is that, when it feels right, it is right."
While most of the key figures in the early days of independent watchmaking were necessarily watchmakers, Maximilian Büsser stands out for being a consummate creative, a marketer par excellence and an entrepreneur all rolled into one. Tapped to run the watch division of Harry Winston in 1998 – still in his first job at Jaeger-LeCoultre and barely out of his twenties – Büsser’s genius was realising the talent of independent watchmakers required a big-name brand as a catalyst for wider recognition.
That led to the Opus, a series of watches that the New York jeweller created in collaboration with notable independent watchmakers. Announced in 2001, the very first edition was the work of François-Paul Journe, who installed his signature movements – the Tourbillon, the Resonance and the Octa – in the recognisable Harry Winston watch case.
The series would progress with one watch a year – Halter’s turn was in 2003, and then Urwerk in 2005 – but Büsser would depart Harry Winston not long after the Opus V of Urwerk. He set up shop on his own to pursue the very same idea of collaborating with independent watchmakers, naming his company Maximilian Büsser & Friends (MB&F) as a result.
LM1 Rose Gold
The very first model of the Legacy Machine (LM) collection, the LM1 established the aesthetic that would define the series. Conceived as a horological machine designed in the 19th century, the LM1 incorporates many elements inspired by classical watchmaking.
Featuring two time zones on white-lacquered dials modelled on enamel dials, the LM1 is powered by a movement that draws on vintage pocket watch calibres. Characterised by elegantly-formed bridges, the movement has its jewels sitting in gold chatons, and branding in italic script reminiscent of hand-engraved lettering.
LM1 Xia Hang White Gold
The design of the LM1 also made it an ideal canvas for collaborations with artists and designers. One of the earliest was the LM1 Xia Hang that incorporates a discreet sculpture by the eponymous Chinese artist. A tiny, polished aluminium figure forms the power reserve indicator, sitting upright when the watch is fully wound, and head bowed when the mainspring is flat.
LM1 Alain Silberstein TITANIUM
Another partnership was between MB&F and Alain Silberstein, the watch designer whose heyday in the 1990s saw him become a leading maker of desirable timepieces with quirky, whimsical styling. Silberstein facelifted the LM1 to give it his signature look, incorporating geometric shapes in the hands and balance bridge, and also the primary colours of red, blue, and yellow, resulting in a watch instantly recognisable as an LM1, but also a Silberstein creation.
One of the more complex Legacy Machines, the LM2 has double balance wheels visible front and centre. Each secured by a V-shaped, steel bridge with polished and rounded arms, the balance wheels are oversized in the typical style of the LM series. They are connected by a differential, which averages the rate of both balances, resulting in a time displayed that’s the mean of the two.
LM2 Red Gold
The reverse of the LM2 echoes the symmetry of its front, with the going train visible in between two elegantly shaped bridges, both having large jewels in gold chatons. All of the movement components are decorated in a style typical of the LM series, with wide, polished bevels along the edges of the bridges along with polished countersinks for the screws.
LM101 Rose Gold
Unusual amongst the LM series for having an asymmetrical face, the LM101 is the simplest and smallest model in the line-up, indicating only the hours, minutes, and power reserve. But it is executed as elaborately as its more complex cousins, having the same white-lacquered registers on a frosted dial, along with the oversized balance wheel secured by a polished steel bridge. Reminiscent of the movement in the LM1, the calibre within is similar inspired by the aesthetics of 19th century pocket watch movements. The bridges have graceful outlines, along with details like polished, bevelled edges and generously-spaced Cotes de Geneve.
LM Split Escapement White Gold
Powered by a movement derived from the LM Perpetual, this LM Split Escapement (LM SE) offers a streamlined set of displays – time, date, and power reserve – while retaining the oversized balance wheel.
Secured by a long, arched bridge that’s a trademark of the LM series, the balance wheel sits high above the dial, with an elongated balance staff connecting it to the pallet lever and escape wheel on the back of the movement. Because this shares the same basic architecture as the LM Perpetual, the view from the back is almost identical, with the escape wheel bridge in between two large barrels.
LM Perpetual Yellow Gold
One of MB&F’s most complicated watches, the Legacy Machine Perpetual boasts a cleverly constructed perpetual calendar mechanism devised by Irish watchmaker Stephen McDonnell. Almost all of the perpetual calendar mechanism is visible on the dial, and unlike conventional perpetual calendars, it was designed to be robust and easy to set.
LM Perpetual White Gold
Stephen McDonnell reinvented one of the most complex traditional watchmaking complications, the perpetual calendar. Developed from the ground up, the 581-component movement was designed to eliminate the drawbacks of conventional perpetual calendars, namely, skipping dates and jamming gears.
LM Flying T Black Lacquered Dial
One of the few ladies’ watches in the MB&F line up, the Flying T contains a movement developed specifically for it, a rarity amongst watches for women. The movement is constructed vertically, with the going track stacked up to create a pedestal for the flying tourbillon, which sits high in the centre of the dial.
LM Thunderdome AVENTURINE The Hour Glass EDITION
Created at the suggestion of The Hour Glass, the Thunderdome was also produced with a tantalum case in a 10-piece edition for the 40th anniversary of The Hour Glass. A dense metal with a grey-blue hue, tantalum is rarely used in watches due to the cost of working the alloy, resulting in tantalum cases costing as much as those in precious metals.
LM Thunderdome Platinum
Conceived by Eric Coudray, who is best known for having invented the Gyrotourbillon while at Jaeger-LeCoultre, the tourbillon is made up of three cages that contain an unusual, dome-shaped balance wheel that accommodates tall, cylindrical hairspring, similar in shape to those found in marine chronometers of old.