MB&F recently added to its EVO lineup of daily-wearable wristwatches with the unveiling of two new Legacy Machine Split Escapement EVO models. The new EVO models follow in the footsteps of the LM Perpetual EVO, the LM Sequential EVO, and the original LM Split Escapement EVO, introduced as a limited edition to commemorate the UAE’s 50th anniversary.
The LM Split Escapement EVO models bring together two streams of innovation at MB&F. One is the development of the Split Escapement, and the other is the EVO case design.
MB&F’s Split Escapement was unveiled in 2015 with the LM Perpetual calendar. Northern Irish master watchmaker Stephen McDonnell, who conceived and designed the complication, had two objectives: make it fool-proof and display MB&F’s signature flying balance wheel in the centre of the dial.
The concept had worked with previous Legacy Machines, where the balance wheel was on the front of the watch along with the escapement, but with the more complex display of the perpetual calendar, there was simply no room for both.
McDonnell, as a result, had to create the world’s longest balance staff, one that would traverse the entire movement, while leaving the large balance wheel on its own, on the front of the watch. The remaining parts of the escapement – anchor and escape wheel – were moved to the opposite side of the movement, almost 12 mm below; hence the name ‘Split Escapement.’
When the LM Perpetual was unveiled, there were so many innovations to talk about that the split escapement went largely unnoticed. So, in 2017, MB&F decided to create the LM Split Escapement (LM SE) to highlight McDonnell’s genius idea.
The manual-winding, 298-component movement is driven by double barrels providing 72 hours of power reserve. It also features a user-friendly, “fool-proof” rapid date-changing system that prevents the user from inadvertently damaging the movement when adjusting the date.
The first editions of the LM Split Escapement were presented in MB&F’s classic Legacy Machine case. However, this horological innovation is now presented in the EVO case. Conceived for a more active lifestyle, the EVO case design first came to life in 2020 with the LM Perpetual EVO.
The case boasted 80 metres of water resistance, a screw-down crown, an integrated rubber strap and a bezel-free design. Inside the case, the movement is suspended thanks to the innovative monobloc shock-absorbing “FlexRing” system, which dampens the vertical and horizontal shocks that come with real-life usage.
After the LM Perpetual EVO, the EVO case worked its way further into the Legacy Machine collection: most recently with MB&F’s first-ever chronograph, the LM Sequential EVO. There is also the 10-piece limited edition LM Split Escapement EVO, presented on the occasion of the UAE’s Golden Jubilee.
The Golden Jubilee edition featured a change that radically modified the design of the LM Split Escapement: the entire mechanism was rotated clockwise by 30 degrees, with the crown at 4:30 instead of 2 o’clock. This alteration completely changed the symmetry of the watch and gave it a totally new character, which now carries into the new model.
The first of the two new LM Split Escapement EVO models comes in grade 5 titanium with an icy blue base plate, slate grey dial and opened counters. Another feature is the special darkened treatment on the movement side, creating heightened contrast between the wheels, the rhodium-plated barrels and the rose gold details.
This contrast also echoes the contradiction between the active, contemporary nature of the EVO collection and the traditional finishing of the movement. MB&F is one of only a handful of artisanal brands that continue to finish components by hand, making the view of the movement as mesmerizing as the dial.
The second model – dubbed the “The Beverly Hills Edition” – is the first of a series of limited editions that will be reserved exclusively for the MB&F LABs – a new retail format building on the success of MB&F’s MAD Galleries. The LAB combines MB&F timepieces with a limited number of art pieces, but adapted to spaces not quite large enough to host a full-fledged MAD Gallery.
This year should see the opening of MB&F LABs in Beverly Hills, Paris and Singapore. The Beverly Hills MB&F LAB is managed by the renowned American watch retailer Westime – a partner of the brand since the very beginning and also one of the first to open an MB&F LAB.
The Beverly Hills LM Split Escapement EVO model was exclusively designed for the MB&F LAB on Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive. This edition, limited to just 25 pieces, comes in Westime’s corporate colours of blue and black with a striking black base plate and metallic blue dial and open counters. It will be the only MB&F LAB edition released this year.
Although the five models featuring the EVO case are presented under Legacy Machines (LM) – “Machines that MB&F would have created 100 years ago” – there is now a strong argument for the daily-wearable EVO models to become a collection in their own right.