When Stephen McDonnell, the watchmaker currently putting the finishing touches on Bremont’s first inhouse movement, designed the LM Perpetual for MB&F he went back to the drawing board, completely redesigning the perpetual calendar complication.
Until McDonnell’s work, the fundamental architecture of the perpetual calendar mechanism had remained virtually unchanged for 150 years and it was beginning to show, with the complication earning the nickname ‘boomerang’ among aftersales watchmakers, given how frequently they returned to the shop in need of repairs.
This was because the perpetual calendar comes with more caveats, more warnings and more opportunities for ‘enthusiastic’ owners to well and truly bugger it up than any other watch in existence. Forget not trying to adjust the date of your watch in the wee small hours (I forward the hour hand to six o’clock, going past 12 at least once before adjusting the date of any mechanical watch), amateur adjustment of the traditional big lever-based perpetual calendar mechanism could result in a meshing of wheels that only a complete rebuild will resolve.
McDonnell set out to change this and change it he did; you could let a five-year-old loose on the crown of the LM Perpetual at any time of the day or month and nothing will jam, snap or seize up. He achieved this by using a set of program wheels to form a mechanical processor (much like Greubel Forsey’s QP à Equation) setting the month default to 28-days to which days are added where needed rather than the more traditional approach of working to 31-days and subtracting where needed. The mechanisms are also protected by safety devices that deactivate the date adjustment pushers when the system is already in motion.
So given the robust, real-world parameters of McDonnell’s movement, the rather surprising arrival of the LM Perpetual EVO, which is clearly MB&F’s most lifestyle-orientated watch to date, should come as no surprise at all.
For the past 15 years MB&F has carved a very successful niche out of being outlandish, of viewing horology and watch design through a different lens, but strangely up until now we’ve been accustomed to a certain degree of formality, art gallery pedestal formality rather than black tie function formality sure, but formality nonetheless. Straps have been for the most part leather, with only occasional smatterings of rubber and fabric, and no mention of water resistance depth ratings at all on the brand’s website.
Now MB&F is offering a perpetual calendar that isn’t just meant to reside in the velvet-lined tray of a safe but be worn with pride (and confidence) whilst engaging in all manner of activities. The accompanying video shows members of the MB&F team testing the watch whilst boating, running, cycling, driving and (I winced here) riding a motorbike. This is Richard Mille territory and I assume MB&F wants a piece of the action.
The brand has redesigned the LM Perpetual case to make it sleeker, milling it from Zirconium (do they have to source that from Wakanda?) adding flat, double sprung date pushers and integrating a rubber strap.
The movement has also been set into a newly developed ‘FlexRing’ shock-absorbing system to protect it from knocks (although no amount of case-polishing is going to undo coming off a motorbike) and for the first time an MB&F watch is rated as water resistant to 80m.
Price & Specs:
Model: MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual EVO
Case/Dial: 44mm diameter x 17.5mm height, zirconium, orange, blue or black PVD dial plate
Water resistance: 80m (8 bar)
Movement: In house perpetual calendar mechanism developed by MB&F and Stephen McDonnell, manual winding, 41 jewels
Frequency: 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 72h (3 days)
Functions: Hours, minutes, day, date, month, retrograde leap year, power reserve
Strap: White, grey or black rubber with titanium folding buckle
Price/availability: CHF 152,000 + VAT, 3 limited editions of 15 pieces each
More details at MB&F.