After working for nearly 45 hours without a break – all at peak performance – it’s been a long tiring day and energy levels are low. While it was relatively easy to sit up straight at the start of the day, fatigue has now set in, back languidly bends, head hits lap. ‘Mr. Up’ has become ‘Mr. Down’. But before Mr. Down shuts off completely, an invigorating influx of energy lifts his head, straightens his back and brightens his spirits. Mr. Up has been brought back to life!
Welcome to the world of Legacy Machine N°1 Xia Hang. Welcome to the world of Mr. Up and Mr. Down, a collaboration between MB&F and Chinese artist 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).
“I call these little men ‘comma men’, and their distinctive shape comes from a selection of art I created from 2005 to 2008. Commas do exist in Chinese writing and for me the ‘comma man’ represents a chubby boy.” Xia Hang
Xia Hang and MB&F share much in common. While MB&F create serious works of time-telling kinetic art, they don’t take themselves too seriously. Similarly, Xia Hang believes the world of art is often too serious; he likes it to be playful, and wants his sculptures to entertain and make people smile. And just like MB&F, Hang calls his kinetic sculptures ‘machines’.
“I was first introduced to Xia Hang a few years ago by a Chinese art collector friend, and visited him on the outskirts of Beijing in his workshop. I was like a child in a toy factory!” Maximilian Büsser
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.
Legacy Machine N°1 was conceived when Maximilian Büsser started fantasising: “What would have happened if I had been born in 1867 instead of 1967? In the early 1900s the first wristwatches appear and I would want to create three-dimensional machines for the wrist, but there would have been no Grendizers, Star Wars or fighter jets for my inspiration. But I would have had pocket watches, the Eiffel Tower and Jules Verne, so what might my 1911 machine look like? It has to be round and it has to be three-dimensional: Legacy Machine N°1 was my answer.”
MB&F’s futuristic Horological Machines have always had a firm foundation in the very best of traditional horology, but Büsser wanted to pay further homage to that rich tradition by imagining the type of timepiece he might create if he had been born 100 years earlier, in 1867 instead of 1967. With its large, sedately oscillating balance, domed dials, historical bridge design and classical fine-finishing, Legacy Machine N°1 is the very contemporary, yet traditionally elegant, fruition of that dream.
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.
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.
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.
“Legacy Machine N°1 Xia Hang is the first time (and hopefully not the last) that there has been a cross-pollination between a MB&F M.A.D. Gallery artist (Xia Hang) and a MB&F watch (LM1). In curating these amazing artists at our M.A.D. Gallery in Geneva, it opens a world of possibilities in possible co-creations with MB&F’s Machines” Maximilian Büsser
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.
Since he began sculpting, Xia Hang has had an affinity for steel, drawn to it by its strength and high polish. He explains, “I have always been interested in metal. Perhaps I am drawn to the shine of metal and its durability. Metal is much stronger than stone or wood, yet it is still very malleable. I think that the changeable dynamics of metal are similar to the characteristics of humans. This is why I choose to work with metal.”
Xia Hang believes that his sculptures should be considered like toys. He wants people to touch his art, to play with it. Highlighting this philosophy, Hang’s 2008 exhibit was called “Please don’t touch”, with the “don’t” crossed out. While we may view Xia Hang’s creations as aliens, he sees them as babies. Fat babies.
“When I first met Max he was wearing a HM3 and I loved the playful sculptural nature of it. Through him, I learnt that watches could also be very creative. I admire Max’s passion in finding artists who share similar tastes and the MB&F M.A.D. Gallery in Geneva is one of my favourite art galleries in the world. I hope to be able to collect Max’s watches one day and I think that MB&F’s mechanical art work is unsurpassed. I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to collaborate with MB&F, their Machines inspire me.” Xia Hang
- 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
- 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
- Available in 18k red gold or 18k white gold
- Dimensions: 44mm wide x 16mm high
- Number of components: 65
- 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