You can be the CEO and founder of an intrepid indie watch company but that can mean nothing if your seven-year-old thinks daddy’s watches are not sturdy enough to survive a family staycation. Having moved to Dubai and with easy access to the beach and a pool in his backyard, MB&F’s Max Büsser realised very quickly that as beautiful and technically sound the 2015 Legacy Machine Perpetual was, it did not quite cut it on daddy-duty.
“I now fully understood how Christian von Koenigsegg felt when he said he could never drop the kids to school in the hypercars his company makes,” laughs Büsser. The Swedish CEO and founder of the eponymous high-performance car brand solved this problem by introducing Gemera, a four-seat hybrid grand tourer that can zip from 0 to 100 kmh in 1.9 seconds. What did MB&F do? The indie watchmaker last week introduced its toughest watch yet – the LM Perpetual EVO, a sporty iteration of their most complex watch, now water-resistant to 80 meters and fitted with a rubber strap.
The luxury sports watch in recent years has gone beyond the realm of the template set by icons like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus. In the last 12-odd months alone we have seen sports watches from boutique haute horology brands like the Greubel Forsey GMT Sport and the Balancier S, H. Moser & Cie launched the outstanding Streamliner chronograph and even A. Lange & Söhne introduced a white gold version of their first sports watch, Odysseus.
Developed by Irish watchmaker Stephen McDonnell and launched in 2015 to widespread acclaim, the Legacy Machine Perpetual won the Best Calendar Watch award at the 2016 Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). The LM Perpetual EVO is the first of a new sub-collection of sporty watches called EVO that will sit within the Legacy Machine line. Going forward every new Legacy Machine launch will have a corresponding EVO model although Büsser says the two releases will not be simultaneous.
“Here we were taking our beautiful perpetual calendar and turning it into something you could potentially go surfing with. So I was understandably nervous and excited but the response has been terrific. We have already sold about two-thirds of the 45 pieces we have available,” says Büsser, a day after the official launch of the timepiece.
The LM Perpetual EVO has a 44-mm case made of Zirconium, a silvery gray metal known for its hypoallergenic and anti-microbial properties. For the first time, an MB&F watch is fitted with a screw-down crown and is water-resistant to 80 meters. The case has a “no-bezel” construction, which allows the dial to really shine though under a domed sapphire crystal that is fused directly to the case. The pushers for the calendar adjustments have been reworked now and sit in recessed sections on the case band. This timepiece is also fitted with a “FlexRing” annular dampener, fitted between the case and the movement, which offers shock resistance along the vertical and lateral axes.
Why stop at 80 meters and not go up to a more crowd-pleasing 100 meters? According to ISO 6425 regulations, a wristwatch is tested for water-resistance under 125 percent of the rated (water) pressure. Therefore, a watch with a depth-rating of 100 meters is actually water-resistant to 125 meters. “There is no way we could use the same domed sapphire crystal we have used here if the watch was water-resistant to 100 meters. It would have to be a much thicker crystal and this watch wouldn’t look the same,” he explains. The LM Perpetual EVO is offered in three vibrant dial colors - a dial plate coated in “atomic orange”, blue, and black. Each colorway is limited to 15 pieces only and is priced at $167,000.
Büsser says the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged the luxury watch industry this year has given MB&F the opportunity to re-engineer itself. He says it has allowed a brand like MB&F to be more innovative in how they go about their business. Product ideas that were shelved for later were suddenly back on the drawing board again with gusto. “I have always maintained that the line “What will people think” has killed more ideas in the history of mankind than anything else,” says Büsser.
It has been a busy year for MB&F; the launch of the HM10 Bulldog in March during the lockdown was followed by LM101 MB&F X H.Moser collection in June. September saw the release of the LM Split Escapement Eddy Jaquet Editions in September. “Since our annual production is still low, the number of pieces sold to final customers — the sell-out — is bigger than the number of pieces delivered to retailers — or the sell-in — meaning retail inventories are actually lower now.”