February 9, 2023
Originally launched in 2013, the MB&F Legacy Machine No.2 is the brand’s dual-balance creation that is remarkably complex, despite ultimately being a two-handed, time-only wristwatch. That said, a brief passing glance is all that is required in order to figure out that the LM2 is quite a bit more involved and entirely more special, as its two balances sit prominently suspended above its dial. Over the years, the MB&F LM2 has been produced in a wide variety of different premium metals including gold, platinum, and even titanium — so, how does MB&F turn things up a notch to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the LM2? The answer is palladium.
Palladium is one of the rarest metals on Earth and it is estimated that it is approximately 15 times rarer than platinum, which itself is already 30 times rarer than gold. If the name of this uncommon metal sounds familiar, it’s because the high price of palladium (among other rare metals) is the reason why criminals have recently been stealing the catalytic converters out of cars. Alternatively, you might also recognize the name because you’re a Marvel fan, and you remember palladium being the metal that was originally used for the miniature arc reactor inside Iron Man’s chest.
Although palladium is incredibly expensive and notoriously difficult to machine (for similar reasons to platinum), it doesn’t create fusion that will allow you to power a flying robotic suit, nor will it result in whatever blood toxicity issue Tony Stark was dying from in the Marvel movies. Although you rarely see palladium used in watchmaking due to its high cost and the difficulties manufacturing precision components from it, timepieces with cases made from palladium (such as the most recent MB&F LM2) are entirely safe to wear, and they just represent one additional flex of exclusivity that exists beyond the already ultra-exclusive realm of platinum watches.
Compared to MB&F’s super “out there” Horology Machine series, the Legacy Machine lineup consists of slightly more conventionally shaped watches that you could actually see someone wearing in regular everyday life. Consequently, the new 950 palladium version of the MB&F LM2 offers the same external design as its predecessors, with a 45-component round case that measures 44mm in diameter by 19mm-thick, which includes the bubble-shaped sapphire crystal that significantly protrudes from the rim of its thin polished bezel.
A signed winding crown protrudes from the side of the case at the 2 o’clock location, while the screw-on caseback gets fitted with a large sapphire display window to offer an unobstructed view of the internal movement. While no one is going to be wearing a palladium MB&F as their go-to timepiece for swimming, the Legacy Machine series watches are designed to be worn and used, and the new MB&F LM2 Palladium features 30 meters of water resistance to protect against daily incidental contact.
The overall layout of the dial is identical to previous MB&F LM2 watches, although the base layer appears in a color that sets it apart from all of its predecessors. To complement the crisp white tones of its case metal, the new palladium MB&F LM2 features an aquamarine sunray dial, which serves as the backdrop for the various components that sit above it. Rather than opting for a rich and saturated hue, the aquamarine dial is understated and pale in its coloring, with gray, light green, and ice blue tones present throughout its metallic surface.
Just like the other MB&F LM2 models, the time itself is displayed by a small off-centered white lacquered dial at the 12 o’clock location that has blue hands and Roman numeral markers, while the planetary differential sits at the bottom of the dial, supported by the mirror-polished double arc-shaped bridge. Sitting between these two raised elements are the LM2’s signature dual balance wheels, which are suspended on V-shaped bridges that create a highly structural appearance, while also adding plenty of motion and visual intrigue to the dial side of the watch.
At the heart of the MB&F Legacy Machine No.2 is a three-dimensional dual regular movement that was developed exclusively for MB&F by Jean-François Mojon and Kari Voutilainen. Running at a frequency of 18,000vph (2.5 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 45 hours, the 241-component, manual-wind movement features two fully independent flying balance wheels and escapements. Rather than relying on the principles of resonance (where the two balance wheels beat in synchrony), the two balances on the MB&F LM2 are allowed to beat entirely independently from each other.
The planetary differential then transmits the average rate of the two balances to the single-gear train of the movement. The idea behind this approach is that the positional variations of each balance will cancel the other out and ultimately result in greater accuracy. While tighter timekeeping is the objective, it’s undeniable that the movement is also the true aesthetic focal point of the MB&F LM2, with its dual flying balance wheels prominently displayed on the dial side of the watch, and the rest of the components expertly decorated and sitting fully visible through the sapphire window in the caseback.
Completing the new palladium edition of the MB&F LM2 is a dark brown hand-stitched alligator leather strap that is fitted with a folding buckle made from 18k white gold. The decision to opt for a brown strap rather than a black one helps to highlight some of the subtle green tones of the aquamarine dial, and while I think everyone would have loved to see MB&F produce a matching palladium buckle (just for the pure novelty of it), it’s more than understandable why the folding clasp is constructed from white gold, as the clasp is hardly the focus here and a palladium clasp would be an enormous (and expensive) headache should you ever need to order a replacement.
Given the complexity of its design and the premium nature of its case material, this 10th anniversary edition of the Legacy Machine No.2 was always destined to be a rather expensive watch, and the new MB&F LM2 Palladium is accompanied by an official retail price of $172,000 USD. Additionally, production will be limited to just 18 examples worldwide, which is the same quantity for both the titanium and platinum versions of the LM2. While this is undoubtedly a lot of money for what is essentially still a time-only wristwatch, there are far less interesting ways to spend this type of cash within the watch industry, and both the design and materials of the MB&F LM2 Palladium represent something truly rare and special. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.