A few days ago, the independent and totally out-of-the-box brand MB&F decided to officially unveil their latest creation in the Legacy Machine series of watches, the Legacy Machine 101 (or LM101). With its suspended balance wheel and off-centered white dial, it’s hard to mistake the LM101 for anything but an MB&F Legacy Machine. But with a relatively small case and an in-house developed movement, it’s so much more than just another Legacy Machine.


Where the LM1 and LM2 (we compared both here) were all about symmetry, the LM101 takes on an original and unusual dial layout that doesn’t take away from the overall balance the Legacy Machines are so adored for.


The oversized custom 14mm balance once again takes center stage in this Legacy Machine, suspended above the center of the dial and under the highest point of the domed sapphire crystal. The twin arches, done in polished white metal, are less prominent than in previous Legacy Machines, which I find helps with keeping proportions in check on the smaller dial of the LM101. Under the floating UFO-like balance wheel you can spot the escape wheel and pallet fork ticking away.

Like the other Legacy Machines, the hours and minutes are display on an off-centered white lacquer dial, slightly raised and domed. The black Roman numerals bring out that pocket watch vibe, as do the blued and slightly curved hands.


Instead of the sculptural vertical power reserve indicator on the LM1, the LM101 comes with a more traditional display in the form of a second, smaller sub-dial with Arabic numerals going from 0 to 45 hours (though I would’ve preferred numbers instead of dot markers for the 0 and 45 hour marks).


But that’s not all that makes the LM101 so special in MB&F’s lineup. One of the biggest selling points of the watch is its size, a very reasonable 40mm case diameter. That makes it not only the smallest Legacy Machine to date, but also the smallest MB&F ever.


MB&F LM101 Legacy Machine 10116

While I’m quite comfortable with larger watch in the 42-48mm range, I can appreciate that a lot of watch collectors out there that are used to watches in the more traditional 34-40mm range case sizes may find the LM101 right in their comfort zone.

On the wrist, the LM101 has tremendous presence thanks to its architectural details and domed sapphire crystals. But keep in mind that the watch measures only 16mm in thickness, which is quite amazing when you consider its volume. It fits on the wrist just perfectly, and can easily slide under a cuff. I like how the crown’s 4 o’clock position is on just about the same axis as the central ruby of the balance wheel as well as the escape wheel, adding to the overall balance of the piece.


Where the LM101 truly marks a milestone for MB&F however is in its movement. Besides being completely new and different from the previous two Legacy Machines’ movements, the LM101 houses the first in-house designed and developed movement from MB&F. Note I said developed, not manufactured. MB&F aren’t trying to become a full-fledged watchmaker, nor should they. When your designs are so out there, why bother reinventing the wheel and taking on the burden of doing everything on your own when you can work with the best specialist for each component of the watch? After all, the brand is called Max Büsser & Friends. It’s more about being able to design movements for specific watches, rather than having to live with the design limitations that come with working with external movement designers and modified base movements. This marks a whole new chapter for MB&F, one that will make any consequent watch from the brand that much more exciting.

Flip the watch over and you’re in for another treat of horological eye-candy. Sitting under the raised “box” sapphire crystal is the manually wound movement developed by MB&F, with all the charm you’d expect to find in a vintage pocket watch movement. Like all the other Legacy Machines, MB&F sought the help of award-winning independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen to apply some pretty lavish hand-decoration and finishing. The term “Côtes de Genève” (Geneva waves) takes on a whole new meaning here. The beautifully beveled and polished edges (Kari tends to like his polished angles slightly on the wider side) add a great sense of depth to the movement. This is, through and through, a piece of haute horlogerie in the purest sense.

MB&F LM101 Legacy Machine 10113


MB&F LM101 Legacy Machine 10114

I honestly didn’t know what to make of the MB&F LM101 when I first saw it at Baselworld. Sure, having a smaller and more wearable Legacy Machine is great and all, but was it too soon for yet another one? Was the layout too awkward? After letting it simmer for a while however, I realized that the LM101 is actually one of the most interesting offers from MB&F.


There’s certain quirkiness about the asymmetrical display that I find very charming; perhaps even more so than its bigger LM1 and LM2 brothers, which now seem almost too perfect, if that makes sense. I should really stop making the comparisons at this point, because these aren’t the same watches at all. Once you get over the inherent similarities, it’s easy to see how each Legacy Machine can attract an almost entirely different kind of watch buyer.

And while there’s really no such thing as an entry-level MB&F, the LM101 is in fact the brand’s least expensive watch to date, with a price tag of $59’000 USD. Now that doesn’t mean you’ll be seeing the LM101 everywhere, as MB&F will only produce up to 30 pieces of each version per year.

More information on www.mbandf.com