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MB&F Legacy Machine LM1 Xia Hang Performance Art Watch Hands-On

MB&F Legacy Machine LM1 Xia Hang Performance Art Watch Hands-On Hands-On

For 2014, boutique Swiss watch maker MB&F releases its next “performance art” watch that combines a member of the MB&F watch family with the talent of an artist appreciated by the brand and its founder, Max Busser. This concept has been around almost since the beginning of the brand and here takes the form of the limited edition Legacy Machine 1 (LM1) Xia Hang timepiece. What is new about it? Look closely and you’ll see a modification to the original LM1’s vertical power reserve indicator on the dial.

The character on the dial is a form that Chinese artist Xia Hang has been exploring for years now that he refers to as “comma men.” It is often the case that artists fixate on a form, character, theme, color, or medium. In Hang’s case the medium is steel, and the forms are the comma men. In addition to the solo polished steel figurines he creates, you can find comma men in many of Hang’s larger works. Actually, Xia Hang should be familiar to some of MB&F’s more involved fans. He has been featured in the MB&F MAD Gallery in Geneva for over a year, where some of his larger mechanical artistic sculptures are on display and for sale. They are pretty cool actually, all functional in their ability to transform – and all feature comma men.

MB&F Legacy Machine LM1 Xia Hang Performance Art Watch Hands-On Hands-On

MB&F Legacy Machine LM1 Xia Hang Performance Art Watch Hands-On Hands-On

MB&F offers a different name for the comma man in the LM1 Xia Hang watch. Because “he” serves as the power reserve indicator, his torso actually bows as the power reserve of the watch decreases, and when the watch is wound he rises once again. Thus, MB&F calls him “Mr. Up” or “Mr. Down” (depending on his mood, or the mainspring’s mood for that matter). Let’s be frank, Mr. Up or Down also looks like Mr. Butt or Mr. Testicles depending on your perspective. Mr. Hang formed the head and face of the character from the concept of the comma in Chinese writing, but of course there is the intentionally provocative nature and social commentary involved in the visual design. Art is at its best when it makes you feel something, and this character is interesting because it tugs on your social ability to refrain from saying “this is a butt-head” or explicitly remark on what it appears like to you.

MB&F did an admirable job of miniaturizing the comma man on the the dial of the Legacy Machine 1 watch. This is actually the second such time they have done something of this nature. If you recall, back in 2011 they created a similar concept with the HM4 Only Watch 2011 piece (hands-on here).  That one-of-a-kind watch included a small engraved panda bear riding the Horological Machine No. 4 watch, which was more or less otherwise unchanged. The situation is similar here in that aside from the different power reserve structure the Legacy Machine No. 1 is unchanged. Having said that, the 18k red gold version adds a new and attractive dial color.

MB&F Legacy Machine LM1 Xia Hang Performance Art Watch Hands-On Hands-On

MB&F Legacy Machine LM1 Xia Hang Performance Art Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Even though Xia Hang prefers steel, Mr. Up/Mr. Down is rendered in polished aluminum. As a power reserve indicator it works very similarly to that on the standard LM1 watch (hands-on here) that also debuted in 2011. As you know, the LM1 was an almost shocking departure from what MB&F was accustomed to producing, as it was a traditional versus modern or futuristic style timepiece. Nevertheless, it proved to be a major success – and it is easy to see why, given the inherent beauty and design of the watch. At its heart, the LM1 is a traditionally conceived mechanical watch designed by Jean-Francois Mojon with each movement finished by the workshop of Kari Voutilainen.


The concept of the LM1 is to offer a face with two independent dials for the time (which can each be individually set to the minute) as well as a view of the large 18,000 bph balance wheel oscillating on a bridge that positions the wheel over the dials. It makes for a visually superlative experience that is enhanced by the world-class finishing detailing of the watch (typical of MB&F). So what does the inclusion of Mr. Up/Mr. Down and the personality of Xia Hang do to the watch?

MB&F Legacy Machine LM1 Xia Hang Performance Art Watch Hands-On Hands-On

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  • ZL

    What, you thought MB&F finally made something kind of normal looking? Look closer. Nope.

  • OmniRak

    While my personal tastes tend toward the more traditional and practical, I do have to say that I can really appreciate the visual artistry MB&F puts together for their watches.   That wasn’t always the case.  I changed my mind when I saw one of their watches on someone’s wrist just casually walking around the streets near where I work (not a Legacy Machine though).  I was astonished how good looking it was on him.  I was also surprised that It actually didn’t look odd or out of place on him for some reason.

  • CG

    Change that to “coma men”, that’s how interesting this is… what’s with the laser etched font style? Looks truly amateurish, a beginner calligrapher could do better.

  • ZL

    You must live in a nice neighborhood.

  • DangerussArt

    Guys check out my new $107,000 Mr. Nutsack watch.  Nope.  MB&F is quickly becoming my least favorite watchmaker. I read MB&F and think WT&F.

  • MKRoma

    The comma chap looks like E.T after a few too many tequila’s.

  • Shawnnny

    It cheapens the piece!

  • Ulysses31

    I’d rather have the original version of the watch, without a testicle-headed fat little man sitting on the dial.  Might as well be a polished steel turd.

  • OmniRak

    ZL No. It was the area where I work in New York City actually. It was on 57th street near the AP boutique. The guy was just walking by while I was looking at the few APs they have in the window.  Still, I was totally surprised by it. I see often see mid-range watches on people and such, but never saw anything like that on the streets before.  (and will likely never see one like that on a “real” wrist again.)

  • spiceballs

    Thx Ariel, as always its interesting to see such creations that watchmakers produce, not that I’d ever could or want to have one of these things..

  • PrestoMan

    Great piece demonstrating that watches are forms of art. Art for the wealthy that is!

  • Perhaps if Ulysee Nardin had colaborated with Mr. Hang instead, the could have produced a “Stranger” watch which plays  “Fanfare  for the Comma Man”.
    I guess its no worse than the Panda playing Santa Clause on the HM-4 (but also no better). I thinks its odd, but I really don’t care that much about it either way. On the other hand, the gray dial and rose gold case are a very nice variation to the LM-1.

  • IvanGopey

    It’s totally new version for white gold too, Ariel. LM1 was not available in white gold with that beautiful blue dial.

  • Abu Rose

    I always marveled Max Busser & Friends’s creations that always
    pushed the boundaries of horological exceptionalism and craftsmanship hitting
    the target Bull’s eye, most of the time. They actually have one person (Oliver
    Berthon) in charge of creating the watch boxes for god’s sake! Check out their range
    of fantastic creations in this link
    Legacy machines are a feat of seamless fusion between the
    antique and the modern. I am especially fond of the LM1 created by Max Busser, Jean-François Mojon & Kari Voutilainen.
    It has 2 dials giving 2 separate time zones, a single bridge inspired by the
    Eiffel tower, and the floating balance wheel that is a completely insane
    mechanical achievement that is absolutely gorgeous to see in action on the front
    of the dial. Last, the LM1 has the reportedly “first” 3 dimensional power
    reserve, which brings us full circle to the “Comma Man”.
    With all due respect to the artist Xia Hand, I strongly believe
    the miniature statue looks like a melting Jabba the Hutt at most and a silver
    piece of … that I do not want contaminating such a gorgeous and classically
    looking dial. So, I will take the LM1 and will pass on this special edition.
    One more thing, when I get my tax return this year and have extra
    $200k, I will get 2 LM1’s; one in rose gold with gray dial
    and another in white gold and blue dial .

  • Abu Rose I wish my total income was equal to your tax refund.

  • Abu Rose

    You know I was being sarcastic with my tax return comment, come on now!
    If that was really the case, I would have been retired in Turks & Caicos instead of hustling in the Grind.
    Cheers- Abu Rose

  • Abu Rose Darn – I was all set for you to adopt me.

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