Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, MB&F has partnered with dial engraving specialist Eddy Jaquet to create a special edition LM Split Escapement collection. The LM Split Escapement ‘Eddy Jaquet’ Limited Edition is a series of eight unique pieces featuring the extraordinary imagination and skill of the well-known engraver in depicting the novels of Jules Verne.
The engraved dial plates of the LM SE Eddy Jaquet Limited Edition are inspired by the stories of Jules Verne, the 19th-century French writer widely recognized as the pioneer of science fiction.
The eight Jules Verne stories illustrated in the series are:
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea
- From The Earth To The Moon
- Around The World In Eighty Days
- Five Weeks In A Balloon
- The Adventures Of Captain Hatteras
- Journey To The Centre Of The Earth
- Michael Strogoff
- Robur The Conqueror
Each of the eight unique pieces comes in an 18K red-gold case.
Apart from the large area of space available for engraving on the dial plate, the Legacy Machine Split Escapement is also an apt choice for this project with Eddy Jaquet. Featuring the proprietary escapement developed for MB&F by master watchmaker Stephen McDonnell and first introduced in the Legacy Machine Perpetual, the LM Split Escapement is the perfect MB&F creation to bear the engravings inspired by Jules Verne.
In these unique timepieces, Jaquet displays his creativity and exceptional engraving skills within the constraints set by the LM SE engine. The designated engraving space was the dial plate, which presents a flat upper surface in the main LM SE series, but is actually of variable thickness on its reverse side in order to accommodate the different components of the engine.
Engraving the dial plate as if it was uniformly thick throughout was not possible. Careful consideration had to be made as to where the thinner areas were, so as not to inadvertently puncture the artistic canvas if a particular section required deep-relief engraving.
From the side of production as well, several adjustments were made to the original LM Split Escapement so as to maximise the available engraving space and allow Jaquet to exhibit his savoir-faire to the fullest. New, open-worked date and power-reserve subdials were created, along with wider dial plates.
The bezel was redesigned to be slimmer, and the case dimensions reworked, in order to make space for the wider dial plate. Because the bezel and case dimensions were changed, a new dial crystal had to be produced, with a less pronounced curve to the dome, since its diameter was now increased.
To fully bring out each illustrated scene, Jaquet applied a dark rhodium alloy by hand, adjusting the shading of each detail according to the exigencies of the scene.
The smoke of the fire on the Michel Strogoff dial, for example, required an attenuated touch, while the underground sea depicted on the Journey To The Centre Of The Earth dial incorporated gradient-shading techniques.
Between the redesign of a number of components and the actual execution of the engraved dial itself, over 300 hours of additional labour were required for each unique piece of the LM SE Eddy Jaquet Limited Edition.
For each unique piece, Eddy Jaquet read the original work by Jules Verne and viewed any significant secondary creative works based on the books, such as the original published illustrations (which would have been approved by Jules Verne) or films.
He then created his own original sketches on templates of the dial plate, depicting key scenes from each story, sometimes combining several tableaux in a single dial plate as a graphic tapestry of storytelling.
The dial plate of the piece inspired by the book Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, for example, shows the submarine Nautilus drifting in the depths of the ocean in an unspecified location; a pair of ruined pillars just above the power-reserve dial hints that this is the scene where Captain Nemo and his crew explore the lost city of Atlantis.
The dial plate of the piece inspired by Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, by contrast, brings together scenes of the protagonists descending into the planet’s interior, the subterranean ocean teeming with prehistoric life, and, far off in the distance the erupting volcano that returns them to the surface in the novel’s denouement.
Creating these rich scenes on the limited diameter of the dial plates posed its own particular challenges, some of which Jaquet was able to foresee and plan around, and some that he was obliged to invent solutions for, mid-engraving.
While working on the first dial plate to be engraved, the piece inspired by Five Weeks In A Balloon, his detailed project notes include observations about the variable thickness of the dial plate. Although flat on the upper side, the dial plate was highly irregular on its reverse, hollowed out in different places to accommodate the different components of the LM Split Escapement engine.
In certain parts, the dial plate had a thickness of 1.15mm, which allowed Jaquet ample space to engrave even in deep relief. In three particularly vulnerable areas, the dial plate measured only 0.35mm thick, requiring him to work with an extremely light touch in those places while making sure that the overall aesthetic of the engraving, which is intricately detailed, was not compromised.
In the same project notes on this particular dial plate, Jaquet refers to the trio of zebras visible at the date dial, quietly refreshing themselves at a watering hole on the African savannah. These animals were not part of his initial concept sketch, but were added late in the engraving process for a key point of aesthetic balance. This, however, required Jaquet to adjust the placement of two nearby hippopotami, highlighting the agility and adaptive skills essential to this delicate project.
Jaquet frequently uses darkening treatments as a means to draw the eye to certain elements in his dials and to enhance the dramatic rendering of a scene. Instead of the more commonly seen technique of uniformly applying a dark coating, which is then removed in parts to create the necessary contrast, Jaquet opted for a far more labour-intensive (and ultimately more aesthetically impactful) method for Legacy Machine Split Escapement.
Using a jeweller’s electroplating pen, Jaquet painstakingly applied a solution containing ions of a dark rhodium alloy to each dial plate. In this technique, the normally silver-white rhodium is alloyed with a secret mix of other metals to impart a lustrous dark-grey coating.
Using the electroplating pen like an artist’s brush, layering the solution in multiple applications and working with the natural tendency of the rhodium electroplating solution to draw itself along the grooves and surfaces of the dial, Jaquet was able to create a wide range of grey tones to suggest different textures and levels of light.
This mastery of chiaroscuro technique is demonstrated in the smoky fire depicted on the Michel Strogoff dial — ink-dark in some areas and pierced by light in others, billowing around a church steeple as Jules Verne described in his tale.
The sleek dark sheen of hippopotamus skin in the Five Weeks In A Balloon dial is brought out with subtle highlights using a more painterly approach, while the gradient shading of space and sea in From The Earth To The Moon and Journey To The Centre Of The Earth called for rigorous technique, intense focus and complex layering of the rhodium solution to obtain a moiré effect in some parts.
About Eddy Jaquet
Eddy Jaquet is one of the most gifted artists of his generation and the best storyteller working through the medium of dial engraving. Eddy Jaquet was born in 1965, in a small village on the outskirts of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. Having learned his trade at the Écoled’Arts Appliqués in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Jaquet went straight on to pursue his lifelong vocation of engraver after graduation, in a career that has continued uninterrupted from 1987 to this day.
Since 1994 he has enjoyed complete professional independence, which has allowed him to create some of the most exquisite works of art ever to grace a watch dial. His work is often based on existing stories and cultural narratives. Eddy Jaquet has been a Friend of MB&F since 2011, when the first Legacy Machine featured his skills in the names of Kari Voutilainen and Jean-François Mojon engraved on a movement bridge.
Model: LM Split Escapement MB&F x Eddy Jaquet
Limited edition of 8 unique pieces, with dial plates engraved by Eddy Jaquet, inspired by 8 novels written by Jules Verne:
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
From the Earth to the Moon
Around the World in Eighty Days
Five Weeks in a Balloon
The Adventures of Captain Hatteras
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Robur the Conqueror
LM SE movement developed for MB&F by Stephen McDonnell
Split escapement with the balance wheel suspended above the dial and the anchor and escapement wheel under the movement
Manual winding with double mainspring barrels
Power reserve: 72 hours
Bespoke 14mm balance wheel with traditional regulating screws 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
Balance frequency: 2.5Hz / 18,000bph
Number of components: 296
Number of jewels: 35
Functions & indications
Hours, minutes, date and power-reserve indicators
Push-button next to the date dial for quick adjustment of the date
Material: 5N+ red gold
Dimensions: 44.5 mm x 18.2 mm
Number of components: 50
Water resistance: 30m / 100ft / 3ATM
Sapphire crystals on top and display back treated with anti-reflective coating on both faces.
Strap & buckle
Dark brown hand-stitched alligator strap with 5N+ red gold folding buckle matching the case.
- Concept: Maximilian Büsser / MB&F
- Product design: Eric Giroud / Through the Looking Glass
- Technical and production management: Serge Kriknoff / MB&F
- Hand engraving of the 8 unique dial-plates: Eddy Jaquet
- Movement design and finish specifications: Stephen McDonnell
- Movement development: Stephen McDonnell and MB&F
- R&D: Simon Brette and Thomas Lorenzato / MB&F
- Wheels, pinions and axis: Jean-François Mojon / Chronode, Atokalpa, Daniel Gumy / Decobar Swiss, Paul-André Tendon / Bandi, Swiss Manufacturing and Le Temps Retrouvé.
- Balance Wheel Bridge and plates: Benjamin Signoud / Amecap
- Balance wheel: Andreas Kurt / Precision Engineering and Marc Bolis / 2B8
- Barrel spring: Stefan Schwab / Schwab-Feller
- Case: Alain Lemarchand and Jean-Baptiste Prétot / MB&F
- Fine-finishing of the case: Bripoli
- Movement components: Alain Pellet / Elefil
- Hand-finishing of movement components: Jacques-Adrien Rochat and Denis Garcia / C-L Rochat
- Gold ingotsCoC (Chain of Custody): Nathalie Guilbaud / Cendres et Métaux Lux
- Movement assemblage: Didier Dumas, Georges Veisy, Anne Guiter, Emmanuel Maître, and Henri Porteboeuf / MB&F
- After-sales service: Thomas Imberti / MB&F
- Quality control: Cyril Fallet / MB&F
- Dial: Hassan Chaïba and Virginie Duval / Les Ateliers d’HermèsHorloger
- Buckle: G&F Châtelain
- Crown: Cheval Frères
- Hands: Isabelle Chillier / Fiedler
- Sapphire crystals: Stettler
- Anti-refection treatment for sapphire crystals: Anthony Schwab / Econorm
- Strap: Multicuirs
- Presentation box: Olivier Berthon / soixanteetonze
- Production logistics: David Lamy and Isabel Ortega / MB&F