Katherine S. Cunanan
February 7, 2023     |    


Blue and white tourbillons, pristine as the snow

What happens when forward-thinking horological minds collaborate with an independent creative jeweler? The result is two limited edition watches that are clean as snow and cool as ice.

MB&F has always been forward-thinking and avant-garde in their creations. And they consistently use the best gems to bring that added oomph to their work. They think outside the box and stretch the bounds of the imagination. And they realize that as much as they know about gems, there are jewellers that know even more and are also willing to take risks.

As MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser shares, “We are not jewellers, we are watchmakers. We would put diamonds on our timepieces, but it was really the bare minimum. So, I started to see jewellers, great jewellers, to ask them if they would like to put their artistry and jewellery into our FlyingT — much like giving them a blank canvas to paint.”

Though ‘blank canvas’ doesn’t technically apply to the MB&F timepieces because they are so imaginative, but we get his point. And which artist would say no to the opportunity to partner with a great horological brand willing to give them the freedom to express themselves creatively on a watch? Certainly not Emmanuel Tarpin.


Emmanuel Tarpin is a French masterful jeweler who draws inspiration from nature. He values the connection between man and art, between art and nature. He chooses projects carefully to be sure his endeavors are sincere. His connection with Max Büsser goes farther back than this collaboration though. Büsser had a presentation about MB&F at Geneva’s Haute école d’art et de design (HEAD), where Tarpin was a student. Years later, their paths crossed again but this time as collaborators instead of presenter-student.

Tarpin prefers to work alone, and in fact runs his company solo. Perhaps he prefers being in control, or perhaps he wants to keep his artistic vision pure and unadulterated. He does, on occasion, collaborate with other artistic minds, and this project with MB&F is the perfect example of strength through partnership.

“I do very few collaborations; I much prefer to focus on my own creations,” explains Emmanuel Tarpin. “But (Max and I) had a chat and then met in person and we got on really well. I found the project to be extremely interesting and working with Max was just spontaneous and easy, even if this was my first time working on a watch!”

The MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT models Ice and Blizzard are the result of this amazing partnership and the watches themselves leave us breathless.


The FlyingT
The tourbillon, as we know, was created to combat the ill effects of gravity on a pocketwatch when stored vertically in a gentleman’s vest pocket. A flying tourbillon takes the mastercraft to a higher level, because instead of being mounted on two sides supported by a bridge, a flying tourbillon is supported from only one side. This gives added allure to the watch, and also opens the space within the dome.

As explained by MB&F, “the LM FlyingT engine utilises a vertical and co-axial approach, along a central axis orchestrating the overall architecture of the entirely visible mechanism. In this respect, the watch deliberately goes against tradition, since everything that is usually hidden is highlighted here in a three-dimensional construction.”

The engine of the LegacyMachine FlyingT has 280 components, each one serving a specific purpose. The rotating escapement and the flying bridge are just two of the details that help this watch function smoothly and accurately. With all the technicalities this involves, perhaps the most obvious one is the angle on the dial. The dial inside the dome is angled at 50° so the one wearing the watch the best viewpoint. After all, that’s what matters, right?

The collaboration with Emmanuel Tarpin resulted in two limited edition Legacy Machine FlyingT models, with just 8 pieces for each model. Tarpin was fascinated by the dome space and the added real estate this allowed. Remember the blank canvas? What would Tarpin put on this watch, how would he fill this canvas? Coincidentally, Tarpin often travelled between Annecy and Geneva and probably spent a lot of time looking out the window. You could think of a window as the frame of a masterpiece, except the masterpiece keeps changing. Travelling during winter seems to have inspired Tarpin, as the two watch models are recreations of snow-filled dreams: Ice and Blizzard.


Cold as Ice
The watch model Ice has asymmetrical stalagmites on the dome in, of course, diamonds. No two stalagmites are the same, just as they are in nature itself. A trip to Southern Siberia and Lake Baïkal provided additional inspiration here. The stalagmites seem to want to take over the dial, and the sharpness of the details seems a bit aggressive. The diamonds on the watch total roughly 2.1 carats.


Blowing Blizzard
The second watch model Blizzard might sound harsher but it actually has a more gentle inspiration. Tarpin has been skiing since age 2 and drew from his childhood memories of snow blizzards. The diamonds inside the dome and on the dial resemble individual snowflakes. The rounded shapes are gentler and easier on the eye. The diamonds here total slightly more than the other model, coming in at just over 2.5 carats.


Beautiful blue
Both Ice and Blizzard have dials of lapis lazuli. Lapis lazuli is a blue metamorphic rock, also used as a gemstone. The rich solid blue color is often used to represent different aspects of nature — the deep blue sea, the dark expanse of night, or the cool blue skies. Lapis lazuli is not a single mineral though, it is a combination of multiple minerals. The blue silicate mineral in the mix is responsible for the blue color, and the gold pyrite adds interest with the specks.

The brilliant blue is a perfect pairing with the white gold and dazzling diamonds in both watch models. Tarpin took the artist’s prerogative to remove any and all yellow gold or rose gold from these collaboration pieces. He was set on the clear, pristine blue and white palette. He also used rare turquoise Paraiba stones to enhance the glacial look. The case is in white gold, and the alligator leather watchstrap has a gold paved pin buckle to match the case.

Beautiful expanse
The MB&F X Emmanuel Tarpin Legacy Machine FlyingT models in Ice and Blizzard are wonderful timepieces and works of art. The collaboration was indeed a success, and we hope this bodes well for more projects from these two minds in the future. In the meantime, pick your pleasure: Ice or Blizzard.


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