MB&F wants you to wear its new Legacy Machine Perpetual EVO anywhere you go.
The new watch, which MB&F debuts today, is an exuberant, ultra-tough version of its innovative and GPHG-award-winning Legacy Machine Perpetual (from 2015) that MB&F has now dressed in a new case and outfitted with enhanced shock resistance and increased water resistance.
Cased in lightweight zirconium, an extremely durable silvery-grey metal frequently used by medical instrument makers, the new watch immediately differentiates itself from the earlier LM Perpetual by displaying no bezel. Instead, MB&F has fused the watch’s domed sapphire crystal directly to the 44mm case.
This re-configured case/crystal configuration opens up the wearer’s view of the watch’s eye-catching, hovering balance wheel, a signature MB&F design element. But more than that, the new design also decreases the watch’s overall height-to-diameter ratio, which can reduce the chances of accidental impact to the crystal.
Zirconium, while difficult to machine, makes for a particularly lightweight case; it also features enhanced hypoallergenic and anti-microbial properties.MB&F has only used zirconium to case two previous watches, the HM3 Frog and HM5.
Perhaps the most critical addition to the original perpetual calendar’s movement design is a one-piece stainless steel dampener called the FlexRing. MB&F fits this new round component between the watch’s case and movement to enhance shock protection along the vertical and lateral axes.
According to MB&F, the new component “makes for the most robust Machine ever to emerge from MB&F.”
In addition to these adjustments, MB&F has transformed the watch’s pushers, which are larger and oblong instead of small and round, and has enhanced the water resistance of the crown (which is now screw-down) on this updated perpetual calendar. The sleeker pushers in particular signal the EVO’s sportiness.
To increase the watch’s water resistance to 80-meters MB&F has connected the crown to a new type of winding stem that disengages the crown from the winding mechanism when it is pushed in and tightened. This also prevents the wearer from over winding the mainspring barrel.
As a reminder, Stephen McDonnell effectively redesigned the traditional perpetual calendar when he first devised the LM Perpetual for MB&F five years ago.
McDonnell built the LM Perpetual with a “mechanical processor” (a series of superimposed disks) that takes the default number of days in the month at 28 and then adds the extra days as required by each individual month. This removes the chance that the date will jump incorrectly. He also built in a safety feature that disconnects the pushers during the date changeover to eliminate any risk of damage to the movement when the date is changed.
In addition to bolstering the shock and water resistance of its perpetual calendar, MB&F is also emphasizing the LM Perpetual’s EVO’s sporty nature with new movement plate PVD or CVD colors and a rubber strap that fits snugly between two polished lugs.
One of three plate color options, dubbed Atomic Orange, is new for MB&F. The watchmaker says it has devised a new coating material and CVD coating technique that allowed it to add this sporty hue to its component color options.
MB&F is offering two other dial-plate colors, PVD black and CVD blue, for the LM Perpetual EVO and is producing each of the three shades in a limited series of fifteen pieces (in celebration of the brand’s 15th anniversary). Strap colors are white, grey and black. Price: $167,000.
Specifications: MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual EVO
Movement: Fully integrated perpetual calendar developed for MB&F by Stephen McDonnell, featuring dial-side complication and mechanical processor system architecture with inbuilt safety mechanism. Manual winding with double mainspring barrels, bespoke 14mm balance wheel with traditional regulating screws visible on top of the movement. Superlative hand finishing throughout respecting 19th century style; internal bevel angles, polished bevels, Geneva waves, hand-made engravings. A FlexRing, an annular dampener fitted between case and movement, provides shock protection along the vertical and lateral axes, screw-down crown, 72-hour power reserve, 18,000 bph balance frequency (2.5Hz).
Functions/indications: Galvanic black dials with both SLN numerals and hands (except for the leap year and power reserve). Hours, minutes, day, date, month, retrograde leap year and power reserve indicators.
Case: 44mm by 17.5 mm zirconium, water resistance to 80 meters, sapphire crystals on top and display back treated with anti-reflective coating on both faces
For many years Precision Engineering AG, a sister company of H. Moser & Cie., has been making balance springs for MB&F. These two high-profile independent watchmakers today expand their ties well beyond sharing component-makers by each launching a watch with functions and designs originally found on watches from both companies.
Thus, on the new Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser × MB&F the wearer sees a cylindrical tourbillon and tilted dial that immediately recalls the MB&F LM Thunderdome or its Flying-T.
Likewise, on the new LM101 MB&F × H. Moser we see the highly recognizable MB&F suspended balance flying above a trademark H. Moser fumé dial with minimalized H. Moser hands indicating both time and power reserve.
Both companies have jointly created these two new watches and will make them available in several versions with each issued in a fifteen-piece limited series. Fifteen signifies the 15th anniversary of MB&F and the fifteenth anniversary of H. Moser & Cie.’s re-launch.
Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser × MB&F
For this 42mm model, H. Moser & Cie. takes the MB&F concept of three-dimensional movements to another technical level with a one-minute flying tourbillon (with the aforementioned cylindrical balance) popping out of an aperture at 12 o’clock.
Down at 6 o’clock we see a 40-degree tilted dial, lifted directly from MB&F’s LM Thunderdome or Flying –T.Rather than the white lacquer dial used by MB&F, here we find clear sapphire marked only by the H. Moser name, two hands and the twelve hour markers.
H. Moser CEO Edouard Meylan explains that his company has “Moserized the MB&F universe by developing a sapphire subdial, which melts into the background so as to highlight the beauty of our fumé dials.”
H. Moser will make the watch available in five different versions cased in steel and with a selection of favorite H. Moser fumé dials: Funky Blue, Cosmic Green, Burgundy, Off-White or Ice Blue.
LM101 MB&F × H. Moser
For its part in the cooperative venture, MB&F has outfitted its Legacy Machine 101 with distinctive H. Moser elements.
MB&F has retained the watch’s suspended flying balance, but has removed its own logo as well as the LM101’s white domed subdials, replacing them with an H. Moser fumé dial and three H. Moser hands showing hours, minutes power reserve.
MB&F chose four fumé dials to illustrate the watch’s cooperative nature: Red, Cosmic Green, Aqua Blue and Funky Blue. MB&F also retained the 40mm by 16mm steel case and domed sapphire crystal.
MB&F has also redesigned the LM101’s large suspended balance wheel by adding a Straumann double balance spring produced by Precision Engineering AG, the component maker that shares ownership with H. Moser. MB&F says the new spring actually improves the movement’s precision and isochronism while also reducing friction.
And there’s more ‘Mosering’ visible on this new LM101 MB&F × H. Moser. Rather than using a Kari Voutilainen finish, MB&F has supplied a contemporary NAC treatment to the movement, which is visible from the clear sapphire caseback.
Moser CEO Edouard Meylan and MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser compare their new creations to a “duet recital in the form of an exceptional concerto for devotees of fine watchmaking.”
Clearly, the two independent watchmakers are making beautiful music together.
The two models are available in several versions, each issued in a fifteen-piece limited series. Prices: $79,000 (Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser × MB&F) and $52,000 (LM101 MB&F × H. Moser).
Travelling through Berlin’s fractured, graffitied and tattooed streets, it’s understandable that Nomos founder Roland Schwertner would have been drawn to the balance, symmetry and inherent calm of the Bauhaus style. It represented an escape from the chaotic environment that was Berlin from before the war to the fall of the wall– and to this day.
The net result of the confluence of Schwertner’s entrepreneurial spirit and a singular moment in history resulted in the formation of one of the most aesthetically pure and culturally reflective watch brands to emerge from Germany.
Schwertner, schooled in technology and photography, found himself, along with millions of other Germans, in a whirling vortex of opportunity with the opening of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, signaling the beginning of reunification of West and East Germany under the chant, “Tor auf!”
By the time reunification became official, on October 3, 1990, Schwertner had already made his move to establish a new German watch brand in Glashütte, Saxony, where the German watchmaking industry began.
Schwertner wanted to build clean watches, something new and not gaudy, like many of the 1980s watches, with a reference to draftsmanship. He and designer Susanne Güntherwent through catalogues of watches from Glashütte and found one that was made in 1920s, that was not ornate like most watches of that time,” says Thomas Höhnel, product designer for Nomos Glashütte, and the creative driver behind , the Ahoi, the breakout water resistant sports model that received the Good Design, iF and Goldene Unruh awards. “This exception watch he found was simple and provided inspiration for the first watch.”
Höhnel works at Berlinerblau, the Nomos design studio, located in Berlin in what would be considered the urban part of any city in the world. The Hipster meets Goth meets Businessman meets Mad Max forms the interwoven Kevlar of the human experience that mesh together and drive the pulse of the busy streets surrounding the studio.
Through a courtyard that could have easily been a darkened spy drop during the Cold War, up an industrial steel grey elevator and through imposing doors lies the Nomos cognitive center, the head, populated by a crew of engineers, designers and marketers who feed their ideas to the production facilities in Glashütte, the thundering hands of the company.
“The creative part of the company comes from Berlin, there’s a reason why it’s there,” observes Uwe Ahrendt, CEO of Nomos Glashütte. “The spirit of the place is important. Glashütte is a town of watchmakers, it’s historical, but the design sensibility has to come from Berlin.”
“Berlin experienced chaos and then came together again,” adds Höhnel. “It’s evident everywhere and has helped it to becomes a creative hub.” Höhnel conducted a thorough history of the company and its products from one of airy, white conference rooms at the Berlin studio.
Berlinerblau itself is a reflection of the clean symmetry of the company’s design aesthetic, from the Eames furniture to the neat placement of nuts and chocolates thoughtfully positioned on the conference tables. It’s a highly ordered and logical environment, a far cry from the tumult in the streets below.
It started with Tangente
Among the mood boards and many company artifacts dotting Berlinerblau is a group of hand drawn numeric fonts on paper that were utilized in the design of the first family of products, the Orion, Ludwig, Tetra and Tangente, released in 1991. The elegant, elongated font is ascribed to “Suzi,” scrawled on the bottom of the art, however that actual name is lost in history. To everyone working at Nomos today, it’s simply called “the font.”
The Tangente proved the star of the original lineup and is still the number one best-selling model, according to Florian M. Langenbucher, a multilingual watch industry professional and true gentleman who conducted our tour through Nomos’ many facilities.
The Tangente, held in mythic regard by the company, is the most emblematic watch of the entire 150-unit product line and has received multiple industry awards over the years, including the Chrono, iF and the highly coveted international Red Dot awards. Photos of the permutations of the model are everywhere, as are exploded diagrams of its guts, citations of its awards, advertising imagery and a library of articles detailing almost every aspect of its existence. Originally offered as a 39mm manual wound unisex watch with a Swiss movement, the line has expanded to twenty-one models, powered by in-house manual and automatic movements.
Höhnel gently caresses various models of the Tangente as he offers them, with gloved hands, for review.
“Notice how the slim Tangent is raised above the wrist on its lugs,” he observes, “this makes even the smaller models seem bigger.”
For Nomos, the Tangente is a challenging canvas for their creative output, as variation in the theme is restrained by Schwertner’s mandate to not violate the original elemental aspects of the dial and case.
The addition of the crown guards, found on the new Sport Neomatik 42 ($4,980), or the external date ring on the Neomatik 41 update Ruthenium ($4,100), which won the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) Challenge Prize, required months of design deliberations and hand wringing before they were green-lighted for production.
“The development process on movements and cases can take up to two years,” says Höhnel. “Every model is reflective of the sensibilities of our audience. We must know how the end user thinks, what they like in design, in architecture, in cars, how they will interact with and use the watch. Sometimes we bring in outside designers, like Mark Braun who worked on the Metro Date Power Reserve ($3,780) a fantastic model with a unique power reserve indicator, to bring a new feel to the line. We work with all kinds of materials and colors just to get to a 3D- printed version that enables our team to interact with the product. Sometimes you just have to put a project down and let it sit for awhile.”
Outside parties involved in the process include the case makers, hand makers and strap makers, with a supply chain that stretches all the way to the United States.
And then there was Glashütte
Two hours south of Berlin, near the famous city of Dresden, lies the small town of Glashütte, population 7,000, located in a valley that is home to more than ten watchmakers and manufacturers. It is here that the Nomos production facilities turn the ideas of the Berlin studio into a tangible product.
The pioneering work of Ferdinand Adolph Lange (of A. Lange and Söhne) established the area as a source of German watches, an alternative to importing Swiss products, while leveraging the local workforce. His work served to germinate a generation of watchmakers and parts suppliers that would ultimately work with other famous brands from the region including Tutima and Muhle-Glashütte.
Wartime production of aviation watches and timing devices to support the Axis military earned the region a target designation in WWII, and Allied bombers destroyed many of the factories and railways. After the war Germany was divided and Glashütte was now located in Soviet East Germany: the German Democratic Republic (GDR).
The Soviets seized the machinery as part of war reparations and began converting production to timekeeping pieces for Soviet consumption. In 1951, pre-war era private enterprises were outlawed and all commercial assets and intellectual property were combined to form the state-controlled Glashütte Uhrenbetrieb (GUB). The fall of the wall passed control of the GUB to the newly forming German Republic, and created opportunities for the legacy companies– and entrepreneurs like Schwertner.
For a German watch company, association with the name Glashütte represents an elite status. To receive the designation “Made in Glashütte/Sa,” more than fifty percent of the watches’ value has to be created on location. Protection of this identifying mark is strictly enforced by the manufacturers in the region, who have sought legal channels in the past against transgressors who have falsely identified the origin in their products, in the same manner that champagne producers guard the use of their region’s output to products made specifically in the Champagne region of France.
By locating production in Glashütte and design in Berlin, Schwertner successfully capitalized on two of the country’s hallmark regions.
Schwertner acquired the rights to several now defunct German companies, one of which was Nomos-Uhr-Gesellschaft, Guido Müller & Co. This company was in operation between 1906-1910 and was put out of business by other Glashütte companies for misleading advertising that indicated that it was producing authentic, assembled-in-Glashütte products.
Ironically Schwertner’s Nomos would later sue watch manufacturer Mühle, in 2007, for the same violation, driving Mühle into Chapter 11 insolvency. Mühle Glashütte returned to regular production in 2008, after agreeing to ensure that their production process added at least fifty percent of the value of the watch in Glashütte.
The Glashütte Name
“America represents our most important growth area, followed by the U.K. and Asia. The strength of the Glashütte name, the power of our brand and the quality we deliver for the money will help us become top brands in those areas,” said Ahrendt, from his stunning glass- walled office located in the town’s converted train station with direct views of competitors A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original.
Ahrendt arrived in a vintage pastel blue Mercedes and is himself a reflective embodiment of the brand. He carries the Berliner sense of style on the frame of a Saxon boxer, a hybridization of the intersection of the two regions.
“Our move to in-house movements represents two things: our liberation from suppliers and a demonstration of our innovation,” adds Ahrendt.
“We produce all our own calibers, including the Alpha, our original hand-wound movement, and six others, and our award-winning automatics. They are all sleek, highly crafted movements that represent the highest standards of engineering.”
The Nomos production facilities are spread across several buildings in Glashütte and house technologies and capabilities equal to most tier-one manufacturers. Nomos worked with the Technical University of Dresden and invested 12 million Euros to develop its escapement and swing system, critical core elements of any watch movement, released in 2014. This move freed Nomos from relying on external suppliers, such as the monolithic Swatch Group, for this important element.
The spotless facilities employ hundreds of skilled personnel who are involved with all aspects of the watchmaking processes. CNC machining equipment turns out base plates, which join over over 150 smaller parts made of brass, steel and other materials that are manufactured, ground, polished and finally assembled to pump out the region’s highest volume of products.
In 2015 Nomos released its 3.2 mm height DUW (Deutsche Uhrenwerke) 3001 Neomatik caliber automatic movement, an ultra-slim creation loyal to the brand’s style aesthetic.
This movement became the seed from which the entire automatic line grew, and the basis for the highly impressive DUW 5201, found in the Tangomat GMT ($4,920) and Zurich World Time ($6,100) models. Nomos’ current in-house produced calibers include the manual-wound Alpha, found in the original Tangente, and the DUW 1001, DUW 2002, DUW 4101, DUW 4301, and DUW 4401. Automatic movements include the DUW 3001, DUW 5001, DOW 5101, DUW 5201, DUW 6101 Epsilon and Zeta.Collectively this impressive list of movements power thirteen families of watches and 150 models.
Price is one of the key differentiators of the Nomos brand, and something that’s repeatedly referred to by company representatives at every level. There is no one involved with the company that isn’t aware of the high level of quality and craftsmanship being delivered.
“Unlike most companies, when we produce a limited edition model we actually offer them at a lower price, like our ‘Century of Bauhaus’ Tangente commemorative model,” says Langenbucher.
“This market ethos also carries throughout the entire brand line. Look at the Metro Rose Gold 33, for $7,200 or the Tangente Neomatik 41 with a rare Ruthenium dial for $4,100. These are incredible products for the money,” he adds.
Speaking of money, when asked why Nomos continues to remain independent in spite of numerous offers from other companies, Ahrendt has a thoughtful response.
“We produce a watch called the Lambda Rose Gold, reference 930. It’s a fine, elegant men’s gold watch and if you look carefully at the balance cock you will see the words inscribed by hand, ‘lovingly produced in Glashütte.’ We put that there because it’s fun to do so. To answer the question, we won’t sell because we, and all the families that work with us, are just having too much fun.”
And where will the company be in five years?
“Sharing our vision of quality and fun in many more markets internationally,” he adds. And if the meteoric rise of Nomos over the past twenty-nine years is any indication of future growth, this company may one day become a household name like other well-known and loved international brands.
De Bethune marks the tenth anniversary of its DB28 by re-interpreting the 43mm titanium-cased, top-crown watch in three extra-thin versions. All three timepieces re-imagine the DB28 in slightly different ways, but all utilize a new, thinner case with newly designed – but still floating – lugs.
One of the three celebratory DB28XP debuts flouts a highly polished example of the new ultra-thin case with the prominent De Bethune delta mainplate, one presents a De Bethune Starry Sky design on its dial and the third is equipped with a De Bethune ultra-light tourbillon set in a stunning hand-engraved “barley grain” guilloche pattern.
The Ultra-Thin DB28XP
To create this ultra-thin (measuring 7.2mm compared to 9.3mm in previous models) evolution of the DB28, De Bethune re-designed the case, lugs and the case band, adding a more pronounced curvature.
New finishing needed to reflect the new, thinner profile, according to De Bethune, which is why the new model features highly polished titanium bridges and satin-finished bevels, a visual treat that enhances the thinness of the new watch. Likewise, De Bethune mirror-finishes the emblematic delta-shaped mainplate and with its dial offers a modern take on traditional guilloche technique.
De Bethune of course fits the watch with its own balance-spring with a flat terminal curve, silicon escape wheel and De Bethune triple pare-chute shock-absorbing system. De Bethune has also increased the efficiency (by twenty percent) of its self-regulating twin-barrels to ensure that the hand-wound movement delivers a full six days of power reserve.
DB28XP Starry Sky
Here, De Bethune creates its first-ever blued Microlight dial, comprised of a blue titanium base with applied microgrooves, to deliver a celestial dial show. Those ‘stars’ on the dial are actually white gold pins placed with precision and as requested by the customer.
As you may know, De Bethune allows the customer to select a date, hour and location so that it can create a night sky exactly as desired by the watch’s owner.
The DB28XP Starry Sky features the hour circle in silver, the minutes in Arabic numerals, the De Bethune signature at 12 o’clock and rose gold hands designed especially for the new watch.
With this third interpretation of the DB28 theme, De Bethune rearranges the movement’s architecture by placing an exceedingly lightweight (0.18 grams-which De Bethune calls “the lightest ever”) 30-second, 36,000-bph tourbillon at 6 o’clock. De Bethune notes that the dial of the DB28 Digitale inspired the new design.
Offering hour, minute and seconds indications, the DB28XP Tourbillon’s white dial with silver reflections is stunning indeed. It provides an enthralling hand-engraved “barley grain” guilloche pattern, highlighted by a blued hour circle with polished marker dots.
If you can bear to turn the watch to its caseback, there’s another reward to viewing the DB28XP Tourbillon: a representation of our solar system that references the Aiguille d’Or – the highest distinction of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) – awarded to the first DB28. The position of the planets is that of the evening sky over Geneva when the prize was presented on November 19, 2011.
The Academy of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), now reorganized with 350 members in its first year of existence, is transforming its selection and voting process as it ramps up for the annual GPHG Awards ceremony, this year scheduled for November 12 in Geneva.
On April 8, the Academy published a full list of the 350 Academy members for 2020. Their first mission, according to a GPHG press release, is to propose eligible watch models, starting in May.
“In parallel, and as they have in the past, brands will also be able to enter their models. Academicians will subsequently be invited to take part during the summer in the first round of voting to select the nominated watches; then in the autumn they will take part in a second and final vote to determine the 2020 prize list,” according to the release.
A full list of the 2020 GPHG Academy members can be found here, while the 2020 Award regulations are described here. Additional details are available on the GPHG website