The newest creation from the MB&F ‘Legacy Machine’ line is s a masterstroke of horological compartmentalization and this is not an exaggeration. Its price is just as head-turning as its revolutionary design and bespoke craftsmanship. The MB&F LM Split Escapement retails for $79,000, but is worth every dollar.
It made its debut in 2011 and since then the Legacy Machine range has perfected its complexity without deviating from its core characteristics: manual winding, traditional finishing, round case, huge domed crystal, and a 2.5 Hz balance suspended by a wishbone-shaped cock. The Split Escapement is in a class of its own compared to the last Legacy Machine (the Perpetual).
There is something unique in the Stephen McDonnell–designed movement. Unlike its predecessors, the Perpetual has chosen to extend right through the movement, and fix the escapement to the back. This configuration was unique for a wristwatch, and it worked well on either side of the watch.
Now, for the design of the LM Split Escapement, MB&F has worked once again with McDonnell with the intent to simplify and distil this concept into a still purer form. The balance staff extends a full 11.78 mm from the balance wheel to the impulse jewel. This receives its impulse from a lever and escape wheel on the back of the movement. Unlike the Perpetual, the hand-burnished dial of the Split Escapement has enough space to display its timekeeping, date, and 72-hour power-reserve dials. The burnish brush treatment of the dial reflects this space by delivering “a wider, more diffuse frosted finish” than more commonly used in order “to accommodate the larger area.”
This is what makes the Split Escapement a horological masterpiece. The watch is a juxtaposition of isolation and space. These components are separated into categories: The regulation and timekeeping can be found on the front, and the power, transmission, and distribution are placed on the back. The unique layout of the movement complements the generous space beneath its soaring sapphire firmament, allowing for these categories to occupy large areas of their own real estate.