« 59 years ago today | Home | The virtue of owning books you haven't read — Umberto Eco »

November 23, 2022

MB&F LM Sequential EVO

[The LM Sequential EVO movement incorporates two column-wheel chronographs and a groundbreaking "Twinverter" binary switch, allowing multiple timing modes including split-second and lap timer modes — a combination never seen before in any chronograph.]

From Barron's Penta:

MB&F's LM Sequential EVO Takes Top Prize at Watchmaking's 'Oscars'

Each fall, the watch industry gathers in Geneva for the annual Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève awards, an event some playfully refer to as fine watchmaking's Oscars. This year's list of awards topped 20 categories — ranging from specific complications to chronometry to "Audacity" and "Horological Revelation." The top honor, or Best Picture if you will, is named Aiguille d'Or Grand Prix, or Golden Needle. 

Two weeks ago, Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bulgari, which won last year for the Octo Finissimo Titanium Perpetual Calendar, passed the Aiguille d'Or trophy to Maximilian Büsser, founder of MB&F, for his brand's first chronograph, the LM (Legacy Machine) Sequential EVO. The groundbreaking split-seconds chronograph was designed by the Northern Irish watchmaking visionary Stephen McDonnell, the savant behind MB&F's 2015 LM Perpetual. 

"I know that creating these movements in the last 10 years has consumed you," Büsser said in his acceptance speech addressing McDonnell, who could not attend the event. "It's been incredibly difficult, sometimes to the limit of agony. I know that each time you finished one of those two movements, you told me I will never have the strength to create another one. But I just want to tell you we are incredibly grateful for what you've done. And not only us, but I think the whole industry should thank you."

The LM Sequential EVO's origin story traces back to 2016 when McDonnell attended Dubai Watch Week in Büsser's adopted city to present the LM Perpetual, billed as a reinvention of the perpetual calendar.

Before sitting down to dinner after the presentation, Büsser learned he had won an antique Tiffany & Co. split-seconds chronograph pocket watch in a Christie's auction. But when he proudly showed a picture of his acquisition to McDonnell, a University of Oxford theology scholar who never formally studied watchmaking, he essentially shrugged. 

As Büsser relayed during an interview with Penta last summer, he asked: "Don't you like it?" McDonnell responded, "It’s not about my not liking it. Chronographs, particularly split-seconds chronographs, make no sense." 

Busser noted, "That's exactly what he told me five years before about perpetual calendars."

McDonnell explained that just starting a chronograph causes the movement to lose 30 degrees in amplitude, which impacts precision when it's most needed. In addition, given that most chronographs have jumping minutes on the chronograph side, the chronograph minute is going to further reduce amplitude by another 20 degrees. McDonnell went on to explain that split-seconds chronographs were even more problematic. 

Büsser threw down the gauntlet: "What are we going to do about it?" McDonnell replied, "I have an idea."

After two years of working to solve the riddle, McDonnell presented his concept to Büsser in Geneva in January 2018. His re-envisioned chronograph incorporates two vertically-coupled, column-wheel chronographs, plus an innovative "Twinverter" binary switch controlled by a fifth pusher at 9 o’clock that allows for multiple timing modes including a split-seconds function and a lap timer — an unprecedented combination.

Each chronograph can be independently started, stopped, and reset using the start/stop and reset pushers on their respective sides of the case. And linking them to the same oscillator eliminates the loss of amplitude, which can impact precision.

"It's got two chronographs and they don't take an inch, nothing, not a degree of the amplitude," Büsser says. "He came up with the idea of two independent, but also linked, chronographs, hence you've got four possible timings."

When running in Independent mode, the watch can time multiple events with separate starting points and end points, even when the events overlap. Simultaneous mode measures two events that start simultaneously but have different end times, like a race between two competitors.

In Cumulative mode, the watch can track elapsing time of two separate discontinuous events cumulatively and independently, like a chess clock. And the Sequential mode, for which the piece is named, acts as a sophisticated lap timer that can record one lap then automatically launch the second chronograph to start timing the second lap.   

"With the Twinverter, you press it and just as the first chronograph stops, immediately the second one will start," explains Büsser. "You can actually time a race completely — it's the first movement ever that enables that."

The movement, or "engine" in MB&F-speak, marks a milestone for the brand, which completed its 20th caliber in only 17 years. Showcased in a 44mm gray zirconium case, the movement's intricate architecture, comprising 585 components, is on full display with a no-bezel design under a dome of sapphire crystal.

The dial plate, available in atomic orange or coal black, features the two chronograph displays — one with a seconds display at 9 o'clock and minutes display at 11 o'clock, and the other with its seconds display at 3 o'clock and minutes display at 1 o'clock. Even with a US$180,000 price tag, MB&F quickly tallied a multi-year waiting list.

"We took five years of Stephen's life for the perpetual and five years of his life for the chronograph," Büsser says. "It's 10 years of this genius's life that's given us these two revolutions."

November 23, 2022 at 08:01 AM | Permalink


The comments to this entry are closed.