MB&F Legacy Machine N°1 Xia Hang

Swiss luxury watchmaker MB&F unveils their latest timepiece from the Performance Art series in association with world renowned Chinese artist Xia Hang. The newly announced Legacy Machine N°1 Xia Hang is a limited edition of 12 pieces in red gold and 12 pieces in white gold. Each Machine is accompanied by a pair of stainless steel sculptures: large-scale versions of Mr. Up and Mr. Down signed by Xia Hang.

Legacy Machine N°1 Xia Hang (LM1 Xia Hang) retains all of the 19th century pocket watch inspired features of the original LM1, including the majestically suspended slowly oscillating balance wheel and dual time indications that can be set completely independently, but with a twist: the power reserve is indicated by a miniature, highly-polished aluminium man, designed by talented Chinese sculptor, Xia Hang. The man sits up straight when the movement is fully wound (Mr. Up) and gradually slumps over as the power diminishes (Mr. Down).

The in-house movement powering LM1 Xia Hang bears testimony to the enormous talent of its creators. Jean-François Mojon and his team at Chronode developed the LM1 calibre, which features the world’s first vertical power reserve and allows completely independent setting – including minutes – of both time displays. Acclaimed independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen was responsible for the aesthetic design and for strictly ensuring the utmost respect for tradition and finish.

LM1’s ingenious three-dimensional movement was specifically developed for MB&F from Maximilian Büsser’s sketches by Jean-François Mojon and his team at Chronode in Le Locle, Switzerland. The balance wheel and spring are at the very heart of any mechanical watch movement and are responsible for regulating timekeeping accuracy. Büsser has long been fascinated by the large, slowly oscillating – 18,000bph compared with the 28,800bph common today – balance wheels of antique pocket watches, so it was no surprise this was his starting point from which to let his imagination roam free. What was surprising though is just how radically he re-interpreted tradition by relocating the balance wheel from its more usual position hidden at the back of the movement to the top, majestically floating above the movement… even floating above the dials!

While the location of Legacy Machine N°1’s regulating organ may be considered avant-garde, ‘tradition’ is upheld by the large 14mm diameter balance wheel with regulating screws specifically developed for MB&F, balance spring with Breguet overcoil and mobile stud holder.

Another very special feature of the LM1 movement is the ability to set the two time zones completely independently. The vast majority of dual time zone movements only allow the hours to be independently adjusted, while a rare few offer setting to the half hour. Legacy Machine N°1 allows both hours and minutes of each dial to be set to whatever time the user wishes.

The vertical power reserve indicator on LM1 Xia Hang is driven by an ultra-flat differential with ceramic bearings, allowing for a slimmer complication and a more robust and longer wearing mechanism.LM1’s power reserve complication was modified to enable Xia Hang’s comma man to seamlessly transition from slumping right over when power is low to sitting up straight at full wind.

Xia Hang first created full-size sculptures, which MB&F then scaled down to a height of just 4mm (1/8”) and then developed the articulation required. The head, shoulders, back and chest of ‘Mr. Up’ (as the power reserve indicator in known when wound), all bend down – thanks to a concealed hinge – towards the horizontal as he becomes tired and Mr. Up becomes Mr. Down. The tiny micro-mechanical sculpture is crafted from aluminium to minimise energy requirements. A very high polish ensures that the little man both catches the light and the eye, as well as remaining faithful to Xia Hang’s original conception.

The rate-keeping of the twin dials is controlled by the same regulator (balance and escapement) so that once set, the two times stay perfectly synchronised with each other. Both the hours AND minutes on both dials can be set to any time desired via their respective crowns.

Complementing the three-dimensionality of the balance floating in space, the dual white dials with their bright blue gold hands float above the top of the movement. The dials are gently domed with a translucent, high-gloss lustre created using a “laque tendue” process in which multiple layers of lacquer are applied and heated, causing them to stretch over the surface of the dials.

To ensure aesthetic purity of the dials and their traditional Roman numerals, a sophisticated fixation underneath negates the necessity of visually obtrusive used screws. A fine golden perimeter circumscribing each dial elegantly reinforces their timeless classicism.

Acclaimed master watchmaker Kari Voutilainen assumed responsibility for ensuring the historical accuracy of the style and finishing of the Legacy Machine N°1 movement. No easy task with such an unconventional suspended-balance design from which to begin.A finely engraved sun-ray pattern on top of the movement plate (dial side) subtly catches the eye at certain angles without distracting attention from the twin white dials, floating balance or vertical power reserve. But it is in the style and finish of the bridges and plates visible through the display on the back of the movement where Kari Voutilainen has excelled in providing exquisite historical fidelity in both the shape of elegantly curved bridges and the traditionally wide space between the bridges and between the perimeter of the bridges and the case.

On the back of the movement, over-sized ruby jewels set in highly-polished countersunk gold chatons provide striking visual counterpoints to the Geneva waves traversing the sensually curved bridges. While providing historical links with the large jewels seen in high grade antique pocket watch movements, the ruby bearings have a practical application in reducing wear/increasing longevity by accommodating large diameter pinions and holding more lubricating oil.

In a spontaneous gesture by Xia Hang, each of the 24 pieces of LM1 Xia Hang – 12 in red gold and 12 in white gold – are accompanied by a pair of full-size (approximately 15cm / 6” high) sculptures of Mr. Up and Mr. Down in polished stainless steel and signed by the artist.

Technical details
Engine (Movement)
Three-dimensional horological movement developed exclusively for MB&F by Jean-François
Mojon /Chronode with aesthetics finishes specified by Kari Voutilainen
Manual winding with single mainspring barrel
Power reserve indicator: a little man designed by Chinese artist Xia Hang
Power reserve: 45 hours
Balance wheel: bespoke 14mm balance wheel with four traditional regulating screws floating above the movement and dials
Balance spring: traditional Breguet curve terminating in mobile stud holder
Balance frequency: 18,000bph/2.5Hz
Number of components: 274
Number of jewels: 23
Chatons: gold chatons with polished countersinks
Fine finishing: superlative hand finishing throughout respecting 19th century style; internal bevel angles highlighting hand craft; polished bevels; Geneva waves; hand-made engravings

Functions
Hours and minutes; completely independent dual time zones displayed on two dials
Unique vertical power reserve indicated by a highly-polished little man in aluminium
Left crown at 8 o’clock for setting time of left dial; right crown at 4 o’clock for setting time of right dial and winding

Case
Available in 18k red gold or 18k white gold
Dimensions: 44mm wide x 16mm high
Number of components: 65
Sapphire crystals: High domed sapphire crystal on top and sapphire crystal on back with anti-reflective coating on both sides

Strap & Buckle
Black or brown hand-stitched alligator strap with gold tang buckle to match case

About Xia Hang
Xia Hang was born in 1978 in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China. He started painting when he was just 10 years old and went to Art College in 1997. In 2002 Xia Hang graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in China.

His graduation work was a cluster of comma-shaped men made from mirror-polished stainless steel, the first of the highly distinctive forms that have now culminated in the power reserve indicator of Legacy Machine N°1. Xia Hang also graduated with a Masters of Fine Art from the Sculpture Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in China.

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