MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome Limited Edition

MB&F presents the Legacy Machine Thunderdome, a high complication watch jointly developed with the two exceptionally talented master watchmakers of contemporary Swiss watchmaking: Eric Coudray and Kari Voutilainen.

Equipped with the world’s fastest triple-axis regulating mechanism, the MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome is the culmination of four years of development.

Wrist shot - MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome Limited Edition

This new Legacy Machine marks three world firsts:-

  • First-ever collaboration between legends Eric Coudray and Kari Voutilainen
  • Proprietary new ‘TriAx’ mechanism features 3 axes revolving at different speeds and on different planes, in record-breaking 8 seconds, 12 seconds and 20 seconds
  • Unique combination of Potter escapement, hemispherical balance and helical hairspring

The engine that powers the Legacy Machine Thunderdome was designed and developed by Eric Coudray and Kari Voutilainen. With a movement diameter of only 35mm, the complex the LM Thunderdome engine has 413 components.

Movement - MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome Limited Edition

Appearing to hover above the dial plate of Legacy Machine Thunderdome is the ‘TriAx’, a highly sophisticated multi-axis rotating escapement. The pronounced arch of the sapphire crystal dome allows this horological mechanism to sit fully above the dial plate, visible from all sides.

View of triple-axis regulating mechanism - MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome Limited Edition

The complex ‘TriAx’ mechanism of the Legacy Machine Thunderdome was developed by Eric Coudray, the legendary watchmaker who now heads a specialist team at TEC Ebauches, a high-complication movement manufacture based in the Vallée de Joux.

MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome Limited Edition Platinum

There are three axes rotating at different speeds and on different planes, starting with the innermost axis that makes one complete turn in 8 seconds. The next axis of rotation is canted at right angles to the first, and makes one complete turn in 12 seconds. The outermost axis of rotation is canted at right angles to the second, and makes one complete turn in 20 seconds. This gives LM Thunderdome the distinction of possessing the fastest combined rotation in the category of multi-axis regulating mechanisms.

Additionally, the last axis of rotation is excentric relative to the other two, such that the final motion of the balance wheel, when viewed in isolation, is most precisely described as an orbital tri-axial rotation.

The LM Thunderdome engine, which has the largest range and fastest rate of balance positional displacement known throughout the history of watchmaking, offers a visual spectacle that the horological world has never seen before.

The rotating mechanism of LM Thunderdome incorporates key elements of traditional rotating escapements like the split-train energy transmission of the karrusel and the fixed wheel of the tourbillon, but in a different configuration unfamiliar to the conventional definitions of tourbillon and karrusel. Driving this mechanism, which weighs close to 1g, is a manual-winding three-barrel movement with 45 hours of power reserve.

For the first time in mechanical watchmaking, a hemispherical balance is used to provide inertia in the regulating organ. This completely innovative custom solution allows for the largest possible balance when combined with a cylindrical hairspring, while still maintaining a relatively compact cage.

Cylindrical hairsprings have been used throughout history for timepieces that prioritised isochronism and overall timekeeping performance, since the highly uniform breathing of a cylindrical hairspring is less likely to cause timekeeping anomalies even in a wide range of disruptive environmental conditions.

Pioneering a three-dimensional balance might be considered by even the most ambitious watchmakers as enough of a challenge, without the extra step of planting it in the middle of a multi-axis rotating mechanism.

Even state-of-the-art laser measuring instruments were baffled by the continuously shifting balance and its enclosing rotating cages. MB&F furthered the known applications of this laser technology by shifting the beam frequency entirely into the infra-red range (thus avoiding any misreadings caused by the visible range of the beam interacting with the polished components) and developing a system of taking discrete readings at specific intervals over a period of time. This, in addition to the combined experience and skill of Eric Coudray and the MB&F watchmakers, allowed the LM Thunderdome balance to be adjusted with efficiency and precision.

The key to the high-speed rotation of TriAx at the heart of LM Thunderdome is a little-known variant of escapement, first proposed by 19th-century American watchmaker and inventor Albert H. Potter as a tourbillon modification. Instead of driving the escape wheel, via its pinion, around a fixed fourth wheel, he made the escape wheel the fixed wheel, and altered the geometry of the escape lever accordingly. This, he correctly theorised, would allow blindingly fast tourbillon rotational speeds.

In the TriAx mechanism of LM Thunderdome, the Potter escapement is modified yet further. Instead of a fixed escape wheel with externally oriented teeth, co-axial to the balance, Thunderdome uses a fixed escape wheel with inverted teeth, co-planar to the lever fork. Only once has this configuration been seen in modern horology, and only in a single-axis tourbillon, never before in a multi-axis mechanism.

The Finnish watchmaker Kari Voutilainen, whose company is based in the small Swiss village of Môtiers, has also undertaken the responsibility of haute-horlogerie finishing of the LM Thunderdome.

Kari Voutilainen, for the first time in an MB&F creation, has chosen his proprietary finishing technique on the ratchet wheels. This finish imparts a sheen that appears almost uniformly sandblasted, but reflects direct light in deeply curved sigmoid waves.

The rest of the Legacy Machine Thunderdome engine features superlative hand finishing throughout, at the highest level of 19th-century style. Sharp internal angles, unachievable by machines, are bevelled and polished by hand. The softly luminous Geneva Waves are applied by hand, as are the frosting and engraving on the power-reserve indication.

Surrounding the multi-axis rotating escapement is a guilloché dial plate, which is also created by Kari Voutilainen in Comblémine, his dial factory.

The LM Thunderdome is available in two limited editions:
– 33 pieces in platinum 950, with a light-blue guilloché dial plate;
– 10 pieces in tantalum commemorating the 40th anniversary of Asia-Pacific retail group The Hour Glass, with five pieces bearing a dark-blue guilloché dial and five pieces with an inlaid aventurine dial.

Technical details

Movement
Movement developed for MB&F by Eric Coudray and Kari Voutilainen
Regulating mechanism featuring 3 fast rotation axes revolving at different speeds and on different planes. The rotation speeds of the axes starting from the centre are respectively 8 seconds, 12 seconds and 20 seconds. The combined weight of the multi-axis mechanism is nearly 1g
Manual winding with three mainspring barrels
Bespoke hemispherical 10mm balance wheel with traditional regulating screws and helical hairspring, visible on top of the movement
Superlative hand finishing throughout respecting 19th-century style; bevelled internal angles highlighting hand craft; polished bevels; Geneva waves; hand-made engravings
Power reserve: 45 hours
Balance frequency: 3 Hz / 21,600bph
Number of components: 413
Number of jewels: 63

Indications
Hours and minutes displayed on a 58° vertically tilted dial
Power reserve indicator on the back of the movement

Case
Material: launch edition in platinum 950 and The Hour Glass editions in tantalum
Dimensions: 44mm x 22.2 mm
Number of components: 20
Water resistance: 30m / 90′ / 3ATM
Sapphire crystals on top and display back treated with anti-reflective coating on both faces.

Strap
Blue hand-stitched alligator strap with platinum or tantalum folding buckle matching the case.

Edition
Two Limited Editions:
– Limited edition of 33 pieces in platinum 950, with light-blue guilloche dial
– Limited edition of 10 pieces in tantalum for The Hour Glass (5 pieces with an aventurine dial and 5 pieces with a dark-blue guilloché dial)