AMONG the watches almost lost in the clutter of releases made earlier this year was MB&F’s introduction of a ladies’ timepiece. Coming in three versions, the watch is Maximilian Busser’s first for women. It is called the Legacy Machine FlyingT, and unlike the feminine offerings of other brands it is not merely a scaled down version of a men’s piece that got tacked with shiny stones and gaily décor. As its name suggests it packs serious horologic cred — a flying tourbillon, for one.
Like the rest of the models in MB&F’s Legacy Machine collection, the FlyingT is as much a time-teller as it is a mini sculpture and a complicated piece of micro engineering. It looks like a desk clock (whose intricate mechanism is placed behind it rather than in it) resting on an ornate surface, which is then covered by a crystal canopy.
The watch’s dimensions are tempered; the 18-karat white-gold case measures only 38.5 millimeters and is actually svelte, with gracefully drooping, slender elongated lugs. But then this case is sandwiched between a generously domed canopy on top and another domed crystal on the caseback. Together, these push the FlyingT’s height to a full 20 millimeters.
Distinguishing the three FlyingT versions from one another are their dial plate. Slightly convex, this is the abovementioned surface on which the “clock” rests. In one version this dial is finished in lacquer black. The two other versions have this spot completely carpeted with either pavée or baguette-cut diamonds. No matter which version is picked, the case’s softly rounded sides and lugs are fully set with diamonds.
Lots of them. The lacquer black watch counts 1.7 carats’ worth of diamonds, the pavée about 3.5 carats, the baguette a staggering 8.2 carats.
In the FlyingT the hours and minutes are displayed on the slightly upright, tilting subdial — or the “clock’’ — placed at 7 o’clock. MB&F says this is the best spot to read the time when the watch is strapped on the wrist. And the subdial’s position — it tilts at 50 degrees — starts to make sense, too. Because, yes, it does make reading the time on a small dial easier.
This subdial can come in either black or white lacquer. It has Roman numerals and wavy steel hands (blued in the white rendition) over it. The shape of the hands mimics the rays in the sunburst-like winding rotor that’s fashioned from a combination of 18-karat red gold, titanium and platinum. This rotor serves as the artwork displayed beneath the crystal on the caseback.
Two crowns are placed on the left and right sides of the case, one for time-setting, the other for winding. Both are festooned with diamonds, too.
Rightfully commandeering the center of the watch, peeking through an irregular cutout on the dial plate, is the FlyingT’s vertically stacked, self-winding movement that spins at a relaxed 18,000vph and which has an ample 100-hour power reserve. And, certainly, the attraction here is the 60-second flying tourbillon which, unlike other such escapements, sits on top of the movement rather than alongside it. The placement is challenging at best, precarious at worst.
This is because a flying tourbillon, as the term hints at, is anchored only at the bottom, with no bridge holding it on top. Its base, therefore, needs to be rigid enough to restrict the top of the mechanism from moving laterally. It’s this rigidity issue which causes most watchmakers to put the flying tourbillon within the calibre and not stick the component out by its lonesome. But, apparently, it’s a limitation MB&F found a solution to.
Another challenge created by the vertical arrangement was the shape of the upper tourbillon cage itself; it is heavier on one side than the other. To fix this imbalance on the, uhm, balance mechanism a hidden counterweight was placed under the tourbillon carriage, on the opposite side of the upper tourbillon cage.
Which in the end really worked out quite well. Because if the FlyingT had instead been limited to the conventional options, then the watch would not have come out as spectacular to gawk at as it is now. MB&F has earned every right to call its presentation “cinematic.”
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but in this ladies’ timepiece it’s horology that puts on the show.